Issue of ceasefire violation between India and Pakistan – Explained Pointwise

Recently India and Pakistan issued a joint statement to strictly observe all the agreements on a ceasefire along the LoC and other sectors. The joint statement aims to address each other’s core differences and concerns in the border areas. But controlling the ceasefire violations is not an easy task to achieve considering past issues and challenges.

What are the recent developments?

According to the report submitted in Parliament in 2020 alone, there were 5133 instances of Ceasefire Violations. Apart from that, there were also 46 fatalities in 2020. The number of ceasefire violations increased gradually every year that resulted in the loss of life and resources on both sides. This can be understood better by the image given below.

Source: The Indian Express

So, both the countries were forced to solve and restrict the ceasefire violations. Accordingly, the Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs) of both India and Pakistan held talks to establish peace in the region. As a result of that, both the countries recently issued a joint statement.

In the statement, they agreed to observe all the ceasefire agreements along the LoC and all other sectors from midnight of February 24/25.

How India Pakistan Border is demarcated and guarded?

India and Pakistan share 3323 km of Borders. The border runs through 4 states of India (Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Gujarat). Similarly, the border runs through 3 states of Pakistan. The entire border is divided into three parts.

  1. International Border (IB): The IB stretches for approximately 2,400 km from Gujarat to the north banks of Chenab (in Akhnoor in Jammu). IB is generally recognised by both the countries without much dispute. This Line was drawn by Sir Cyril Radcliffe during the partition. This section is running across Punjab, Rajasthan, and Gujarat States and guarded by the Border Security Force (BSF) of India.
  2. Few sections of IB (201 km) where the line connects with Jammu and Kashmir are called Working Boundary (WB) by Pakistan. This WB has Pakistani Punjab on the other side. Pakistan calls this a Working Boundary because this boundary is subjected to one-way dispute (Pakistani Punjab is recognised by India).
  3. Line of Control (LoC): It is a 740 km long boundary line. It is a De facto boundary between the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and the Indian side of Kashmir. The LOC runs from parts of Jammu to NJ 9842 in the Siachin glacier. This is an imaginary line that came into existence after the 1948 Pakistan aggression.  At present, it is governed by the 1972 Shimla agreement.
  4.  Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL): It is the 110 km long line that divides the current position of disputed regions in Siachin Glacier. It extends from Point NJ 9842 to Indiracol.

Except for IB, all the remaining regions (IB, LoC, AGPL) are guarded by the Indian Army.

Ceasefire agreements between India and Pakistan:

There are several agreements signed between India and Pakistan to resolve the border dispute. They are,

  1. Karachi Agreement 1949
    • This agreement was signed after the India Pakistan war of 1947 and supervised by the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan.
    • The agreement established a Ceasefire line along the disputed regions of Kashmir.
    • The ceasefire line are monitored by United Nations observers from United Nations.
    • Both the countries agreed to establish a buffer zone of 500 yards on both sides of the Ceasefire line.
  2. Shimla Agreement 1972
    • This agreement was signed after the Bangladesh liberation war of 1971.
    • Under this agreement both the countries agreed to resolve the disputes bilaterally.
    • The agreement converted the ceasefire line into a Line of Control (LoC).
      (Thereby, the role of the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan to monitor the ceasefire line lost its relevance. But Pakistan still disputes that.)
    • There is no mention of the buffer zone in this agreement.
  3. Ceasefire Agreement 2003
    • This agreement came after four years of Kargil and two years after the Indian Parliament got attacked.
    • Pakistan PM announced the Ceasefire on LoC on November 26, 2003. Later the IB was also included in the ceasefire. So, it is not a formalised document. But it has certain important points such as,
      • Creating a buffer Zone within 500 yards of LoC and 150 yards of IB.
      • Proper fencing on LoC can be done by countries.
      • No firing will be done by both the countries on LoC.
      • Both countries cannot indulge in altering the ceasefire unilaterally irrespective of mutual differences and legal interpretations of the agreement.
Why there are ceasefire violations?

A study conducted by the US Institute of Peace mentions the Ceasefire line as “A Line on Fire”. The Institute further held the reasons for ceasefire violation on India Pakistan border by both sides of the army. They are,

  1. The factor of testing the new boys: It is an attempt on one side to assess the new battalions posted on the other side. For example,  after a new BSF battalion posted in a region of Jammu and Kashmir, the study observed 45 days of consecutive ceasefire violation by the Pakistani troops.
  2. To show the potential of new boys: In few instances, the new battalion indulges in ceasefire violation to prove to the opposite side that they have better-fighting capability.
  3. The emotional state of soldiers: The ceasefire violations occur whenever there is happiness or a sad state of the emotional capacity of soldiers. For example, ceasefire violations increased after a defeat of the Pakistani cricket team by the Indian cricket team. Similarly, it got increased after India successfully conducted a missile test.
  4.  Defense constructions: Ceasefire violations also occurred due to the defense constructions in border areas.
  5. No proper definition of LoC: As the Shimla Agreement, Karachi Agreement not defined the LoC properly, and the 2003 agreement is not yet finalised there is an ambiguity in the demarcated areas. That triggers the Ceasefire in the majority of the cases.
Potential of Ceasefire violations:

Ceasefire violations have the potential to alter fundamental political dispute between both countries. The reasons are,

  1. Ceasefire violations can alter political and diplomatic ties. Many ceasefire violations on the border can change the stand of both the governments.
  2. They can escalate any ongoing crisis. This is feasible especially when the ceasefire violation occurs in the aftermath of terror incidents.
  3. They can aid the infiltration by terrorists. The ceasefire has a positive correlation with the number of terrorists entering India.

So by reducing the ceasefire violations one can expect a reduced terror attack, increased bilateral relations etc.

Suggestions to control the ceasefire violations:
  1. The best solution for both countries is to Formalize the 2003 agreement. This will not only reduce the violations but also create stability in border areas.
  2. Until formalizing the ceasefire agreement both countries can agree to standard operating procedures (SOPs). The SOPs must include the provisions such as,
    • Frequent communications between both sides of security forces to intimate their activities.
    • Managing the night movement of both the armies smoothly.
    • Restricting and intimating the accidental firings.
    • Knowledge sharing between both the countries on inadvertent crosses (unidentified passes on both sides).

The recent step taken by both the countries to respect all the agreements is a welcome move. But Pakistan has to prove their credential on the ground. If Pakistan does that then the recent move has the potential to turn the current bilateral relations between both the countries.

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