India, Pakistan vow to ‘observe’ ceasefire

New Delhi/Islamabad: India and Pakistan have agreed to strictly observe all agreements on ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir and other sectors, even as Indian Army officials asserted there would be no let-up in its fight against terrorism or in its troop deployment along the borders.

A joint statement issued in Islamabad and New Delhi said the Director Generals of Military Operations of the two countries held discussions over the established mechanism of hotline contact and reviewed the situation along the LoC and all other sectors in a “free, frank and cordial” atmosphere.

“In the interest of achieving mutually beneficial and sustainable peace along the borders, the two DGMOs agreed to address each other’s core issues and concerns which have propensity to disturb peace and lead to violence.

“Both sides agreed for strict observance of all agreements, understandings and cease firing along the Line of Control and all other sectors with effect from midnight of February 24/25,” the joint statement said.

The two sides also reiterated that existing mechanisms of hotline contact and border flag meetings will be utilised to resolve any unforeseen situation or misunderstanding, it added.

When asked about the announcement, the external affairs ministry spokesperson reportedly said India desires normal neighbourly ties with Pakistan.

“On relations with Pakistan, as we have said earlier, India desires normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan. We have always maintained we are committed to addressing issues if any in a peaceful and bilateral manner,” the spokesperson asserted.

Thursday’s announcement comes a day before the second anniversary of Balakot air strike by India in response to the deadly Pulwama attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed.

Indian Army officials maintained that there will be no let-up in the troop deployment as well its operations along Pakistan borders against terrorism and infiltration.

The ceasefire, they said, does not mean that the army’s fight against terrorism has come to a halt and its alertness and vigil will not be lowered. They said they are “cautiously optimistic” on the ceasefire.

India and Pakistan signed a ceasefire agreement in 2003, but it has hardly been followed in letter and spirit over past several years with more violations than observance of the pact.