Pakistan lodges protest as India violates ceasefire agreement

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office (FO) confirmed on Tuesday that India has violated the ceasefire along the Working Boundary, the first time since the two countries agreed to restore the truce on February 25.

The Indian Border Security Force (BSF) violated the ceasefire at the Charwa Sector of the Working Boundary on Monday, Foreign Office Spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said.

The spokesperson confirmed that the Indian charge d’affaires was called to the FO to lodge a protest against the violation.

“The Indian side was reminded of its obligation to respect the ceasefire understanding,” he added.

But unlike the past, the FO tried to downplay the incident as no formal statement was issued. Instead, the spokesperson responded to media queries.

Tensions between Pakistan and India have eased considerably along the Line of Control (LoC) after the two countries decided to honour the 2003 ceasefire understanding in February. Since then, the LoC and the border remain calm as there has not been a single incident of ceasefire violation until the latest one.

The truce violation at the Working Boundary caused no casualties. The de-escalation in tensions were attributed to back-channel talks between the senior intelligence officials of Pakistan and India.

The backchannel talks were confirmed by a high official in a recent interaction with journalists. But retired diplomats and generals warned against being too optimistic about these contacts as New Delhi has yet to give any positive signal.

On Monday, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) President Masood Khan said that a fragile border truce between longtime nuclear rivals Pakistan and India will not resolve the long-smoldering Occupied Kashmir dispute.

In an interview with a private news channel, Khan observed that the cease-fire at the LoC — a de facto border that divides the picturesque Himalayan valley between the two neighbors — and de-escalation of tensions would “neither resolve the Kashmir issue nor would peace return to the region.”

Since August 5, 2019, when India scrapped the autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir,
dozens of people have been killed and scores have been injured in cross-border firings that have been the most intense in the past 17 years.

“To bring peace, India must stop the massacre of the Kashmiri people and take decisive steps to grant the fundamental right of self-determination to them,” said Khan, who also served as Permanent Representative to the United Nations from 2012 to 2015.

“Kashmiris must be consulted and taken into confidence about whatever the decision is to be made about Kashmir because none other than the Kashmiri people can be sincerer to Pakistan,” he went on to say.

He was apparently referring to reported United Arab Emirates-brokered backdoor diplomacy between New Delhi and Islamabad which aims to provide a roadmap for long-term peace and a possible solution to the 73-year-old Kashmir dispute.

Citing New Delhi’s August 2019 move, Khan said he does not see “any sincerity in the offer of the Indian leadership to resolve the Kashmir issue through talks.”

Khan said that mounting pressure from the international community after the August 2019 actions has “temporarily” compelled India to talk about a negotiated solution to issues.

“The restoration of Article 35-A by India is not enough for confidence building. On the contrary, India would have to recognise the whole of Jammu and Kashmir as a disputed territory and would have to revive the pre-Aug. 5, 2019 position of the state in order to pave the way for talks,” he maintained.

Kashmiris, he further said, will get relief only when India lifts the siege of “occupied” Kashmir, ceases the killing spree of Kashmiri people, gives up settling Indian Hindus in Kashmir and stops attempts to change the demography of the state.

According to several human rights organisations, thousands of people have reportedly been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.

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