India and Pakistan announce ceasefire . . .
India and Pakistan announced a ceasefire today along the Line of Control (LoC) in the disputed Kashmir region. The declaration also outlines dedicated political mechanisms through which the two nuclear-armed neighbours agree to resolve future LoC disputes. The news comes as a relief to the region, which has witnessed frequent armed conflict since the 1947 partition of British India. The last ceasefire agreement in 2003 managed to maintain peace until 2016. Since then, the two countries have engaged in over 10,000 ceasefire violations that have led to the loss of hundreds of lives of both security personnel and civilians and caused widespread unrest.
The contested Line of Control . . .
Kashmir has remained a contested region for the better part of the last century due to its strategic location at the crossroads of South, Central, and East Asia, and importance in terms of national security and resources. The 725-km-long LoC demarcates the areas of Kashmir controlled by India and Pakistan. Its history can be traced back to the first Indo-Pakistan war of 1948. After the third Indo-Pakistan war in 1971 and intervention by the United Nations, the LoC came into effect as a provisional international border that the two nations agreed to and formalized with the Shimla Agreement of 1972.
Will peace return?
This week’s ceasefire comes on the heels of the India-China disengagement in the nearby Pangong Lake region of eastern Ladakh, a welcome change to the deadly border disputes last year as India engaged with both China and Pakistan in different contested areas. It also comes as social and political restrictions that followed India’s August 2019 revocation of Kashmir’s special autonomous status are easing, and economic activities are resuming. Senior Kashmiri politician Mehbooba Mufti lauded the ceasefire as a way to stop “the un-ending cycle of violence and bloodshed.” Acknowledging that India-Pakistan ceasefires have come and gone, resolve from both sides will be required if dialogue is to triumph over violence.