Pakistan and India have agreed to immediately end military hostilities in the disputed area of Kashmir. The two nations promised Thursday to honor a 2003 truce to reduce tensions between the two nuclear-armed rivals.
In a joint statement, top military commanders said they had discussed in a “cordial atmosphere” the situation along the Line of Control that splits Kashmir.
Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, but both countries claim the whole territory. It has been the cause of two of the three wars between the countries since both gained independence from Britain in 1947.
A statement released by Pakistan’s army said the two nations had agreed to observe “all agreements, understandings and cease firing along the LOC.”
It also said that in the interest of peace, the two sides had agreed to discuss each other’s main concerns in an effort to prevent further violence.
Indian and Pakistani military commanders also agreed on the need to use existing arrangements between the two sides to settle any problems that may arise, the statement said.
Thursday’s communication between the two militaries -- through an established hotline -- came after months of worsening relations between Pakistan and India.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi called the understanding an “important step” toward peace in the area. He added that while the agreement can be a “good beginning,” it also requires India to demonstrate sincerity.
South Asia experts in India welcomed the move.
"It’s a good development and should have happened a long time ago,” said Amit Baruah. He is editor of The Hindu newspaper in Delhi.
“India and Pakistan may not see eye-to-eye, but contact is always good for the sake of the people living on either side of the Line of Control,” Baruah told VOA.
The two countries agreed to the 2003 Kashmir ceasefire at a time when the world worried that hostilities over Kashmir could grow into a nuclear conflict.
However, small military conflicts at the border have become common in recent years. Each side has accused the other of truce violations. Both countries say the violence has caused hundreds of casualties to security forces and civilians.
India has long accused Pakistan of arming Muslim separatists fighting Indian rule in Kashmir. Pakistan denies the charges. It says Indian security forces have committed “atrocities” against Kashmiris.
India’s Hindustan Times newspaper said the new agreement was the result of secret talks between Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and his Pakistani counterpart, Moeed Yusuf.
Tensions have increased sharply since August 2019. At that time, India canceled Kashmir’s constitutional right to limited self-rule in the part of Kashmir it controls. It split the area into two new territories and enforced tough new security and communications rules in the majority Muslim area.
Pakistan’s government saw the move as a violation of a United Nations Security Council resolution that recognizes Kashmir as a disputed territory. Its relationship with India worsened as it demanded that the action be changed.
India said the move was part of efforts aimed at improving security and bringing economic growth to Kashmir.
I’m Susan Shand.
VOA’s Ayaz Gul reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for Learning English. Bryan Lynn was the editor.
Words in This Story
rival – n. someone or something that is competing with another person or thing
cordial – adj. friendly and polite
arrangement – n. plans for how something will happen
hotline – n. a direct telephone line in constant operation in order to carry out immediate communication
sincerity – n. being honest and saying or showing what you really feel or believe
atrocity – n. a very cruel or terrible action
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