India, Pakistan to Implement Ceasefire After Kashmir Clashes

(Bloomberg) -- India and Pakistan agreed to abide by a 15-year-old ceasefire agreement after years of sporadic firing across the disputed border in Kashmir, a move which signals a potential thawing in deteriorating relations between the arch-rivals.

The nuclear-armed nations agreed to put an end to ongoing border fighting and to fully implement the ceasefire understanding of 2003, India and Pakistan’s armed forces said in statements late Tuesday. Pakistan’s director general of military operations phoned his Indian counterpart at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, according to the Indian statement.

“This is a significant breakthrough given the mounting tensions between two countries,” said Naeem Ahmed, an assistant professor of international relations at the University of Karachi. “They at least have realized the gravity of the situation.”

Since partition and independence from British colonial rule in 1947, both countries have fought two wars over the mountainous Muslim-majority region of Kashmir, which they both claim in full. New Delhi has long accused Islamabad of fomenting separatist unrest through the support of proxy militant groups, while Pakistan has said normal relations between the countries can be restored only when Kashmir’s status is resolved.

Ceasefire Violations

Pakistan’s foreign ministry this year has said there have been around 3,000 ceasefire violations since 2017, while in the past five months 24 civilians were killed and 107 injured on Pakistan’s side of the so-called Line of Control.

On the other side, India’s foreign ministry said Pakistani forces had committed 1088 ceasefire violations so far this year, killing 36 and injuring 127 people. Last week, India summoned Pakistan’s deputy high commissioner in New Delhi after the death of a 7-month old infant in what the foreign ministry said was an “unprovoked” ceasefire violation.

Ahmed warned that these types of agreements produce only “temporary results,” given the degree of mistrust between Pakistan and India.

“Tensions will, on and off, keep surfacing until and unless they address and resolve their core issues involving Kashmir and water disputes,” he said, noting that it is difficult to improve bilateral relations while there is “no stable government” in Pakistan ahead of July 25 national elections.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.