India and Pakistan’s militaries said on Thursday that they had agreed to stop firing along their disputed border in Kashmir, a region that has experienced frequent conflict in recent months, often resulting in the killing or maiming of people living in the area.
“In the interest of achieving mutually beneficial and sustainable peace along the borders, the two DGsMO agreed to address each other’s core issues and concerns which have propensity to disturb peace and lead to violence,” a joint statement said, referring to the two countries military operations heads.
The nuclear-armed neighbors signed a cease-fire agreement along the Line of Control (LoC) – the de facto border in the Kashmir region – in 2003, but the truce has been fraying in recent years.
An official in New Delhi said the cessation was partly aimed at easing the fraught situation for civilians living along the border, who are regularly caught in the crossfire.
“We are cautiously optimistic that the violence levels and tensions along the LoC will come down,” the official said, declining to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.
But India will not ease up on deployments along the LoC that aim to stop infiltration or counterinsurgency operations in the Kashmir valley, the official said.
Last summer, India and Pakistani troops were locked in their most frequent cross-border fighting in at least two years, amid surging coronavirus outbreaks.
The Kashmir dispute, one of the oldest on the agenda of the U.N. Security Council, erupted between India and Pakistan in 1947. Since 1947, more than 94,000 Kashmiris have been killed during clashes with Indian authorities, according to Pakistani sources. Islamabad has urged the international community to fulfill its moral and legal obligation by giving Kashmiris the chance to realize their inalienable right to self-determination in accordance with Security Council resolutions.
Pakistan and India have a history of bitter relations. The two neighbors have fought two of their three wars over the territory. Most Kashmiris support uniting the territory, either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country. Rebels in the region have been fighting against Indian rule since 1989.
Pakistan and India routinely accuse each other of unprovoked attacks along the tense Kashmir frontier in violation of a 2003 cease-fire agreement. Pakistan says India has violated the truce more than 2,000 times in 2020 alone.
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