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India and Pakistan: Formalizing the 2003 Ceasefire Agreement

11 2 9

The year 2017 was the worst year in terms of ceasefire violations between India and Pakistan since the 2003 agreement came into force. India blamed Pakistan for 860 ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (LOC) and the working boundary along Jammu-Sialkot, while Pakistan blamed India for 1300 ceasefire violations causing around 100 deaths in 2017 only. Both sides claim they are retaliating, blaming the other side for breaking the ceasefire in an ‘unprovoked’ fashion and boasting that a ‘befitting response’ was given and a higher number of deaths were incurred on the other side.

There are several explanations for these events; they range from local level military factors on the border to larger dynamics of internal and external political developments. Nevertheless, one thing is certain: all these ceasefire violations take place because India and Pakistan have no formal written ceasefire agreement with clearly defined modalities or Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to manage their borders. Currently, what stops India and Pakistan from opening fire at each other is a 2003 ‘ceasefire offer’ made by the then Prime Minister of Pakistan, Zafarullah Jamali, on 23 November 2003 on the eve of the Eid-al-Fitr holiday. India’s formal acceptance of the ceasefire came a few days later in a statement by the foreign ministry: “The director generals of military operations of India and Pakistan have agreed to observe a ceasefire with effect from midnight tonight along the international border [the working boundary for Pakistan], the Line of Control and the Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) in Siachen.”

It is interesting to note here that Pakistan appears to be quite eager on formalizing the 2003 ceasefire, while the Indian side appears quite reluctant to even discuss it. In his address to the 70th session of the UN General Assembly in September 2015, the former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said: “We propose that Pakistan and India formalize and respect the 2003 understanding for a complete ceasefire on the Line of Control in Kashmir”. And he went on to propose an expansion of the U.N.........

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