Let the people live in peace

India- Pakistan should not lose sight of the gains of the February 25, 2021 ceasefire
"It was important for Delhi and Islamabad to understand what all has been achieved so far, and could the two countries have moved further to consolidate the gains of peace on the LoC."
"It was important for Delhi and Islamabad to understand what all has been achieved so far, and could the two countries have moved further to consolidate the gains of peace on the LoC." GK Layout Desk

A geo-strategic irony hit India and Pakistan when Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, shortly after Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan landed in Moscow. The time to reflect on the first anniversary of the February 25, 2021 ceasefire on the Line of Control was snatched by the conflict in Eurasia.

It was important for Delhi and Islamabad to understand what all has been achieved so far, and could the two countries have moved further to consolidate the gains of peace on the LoC.

A periodic review of such important decisions that touch the lives of the people, not just on the borders, but also in the hinterlands, serves a sort of examination of nations’ behaviour.

In essence, the February 25 ceasefire had its origin in the November 26, 2003 ceasefire which was signed and implemented in one of the best periods when Indo-Pak relations took turn for resolving issues through peace; conflicts were on table to look for solutions.

The Ukraine crisis which brought new dimensions of the war, the kind of which was not seen and experienced since the end of cold war more than 30 years ago, to the fore.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine, whatever might have been the provocations – needling by Washington and Europe is unforgivable as it has resulted in loss of thousands of lives, and has also shaken the world order, in whatever form it existed.

Russia has revived the threat of nuclear war and the world is inching toward catastrophe of its own, with deepening of the economic distress, nightmare of slow growth, inflation becoming a reality. It is not the third world war on the lines of first and second, this is much worse.

It has created and sharpened the psychology of conflict. And that is the last thing that India and Pakistan can afford at this stage. Therefore, it was extremely important to review where do these countries stand at the end of the first year of the renewed ceasefire.

Ceasefire, as the term denotes, means end of hostilities, and subsequently the attempt is made to turn into as a foundation for resolution of the issues. India and Pakistan understand it better, but at the same time, when they are locked in ego clashes, the ceasefires fail to yield he desired results.

Now looking at what is happening in Ukraine, and the world crying for ceasefire should serve as a lesson to both India and Pakistan; that they should make a progress toward addressing their issues.

Both India and Pakistan have to show to the world that they have a ceasefire in place and they know the art of ending hostilities. But between them, there are many fissures which they are not addressing, simply because they think that would amount to compromise on their core issues.

The ceasefire and its subsequent benefits are not compromises, but statesmanship to end the gunfire and let the people live in peace.

A ceasefire, in all its essence, means ending of hostilities – that is, that there would be end to the use of arms; this can be on the borders and within. These two ideas can be viewed separately as also in relation to each other. Jammu and Kashmir has experienced both of them.

There were spells of ceasefire, and the most important of which was “Ramzan ceasefire ( November 2000 to May 31, 2001), which collapsed internally, but led to the talks between India and Pakistan. Talks failed at Agra summit, and what followed was a blame game between the two sides before the 2002 stand off and heavy exchange of fire took place on borders.

But the whole scenario changed with Prime Minister Vajpayee’s extension of hand of friendship to Pakistan, then came the November 26, 2003 ceasefire. That ceasefire on LoC and other borders lasted for few years, and one of the best examples of that is that not even a single shot has been fired at Siachen glacier for the past over 18 years.

But the LoC could not maintain the same spirit and the ceasefire collapsed by 2009, and accordingly the internal situation also saw many ups and downs. Now, when this (February 25, 2021) ceasefire has completed one year, there is a hope that it will sustain.

While my hope is that it will become a permanent feature and, at some point of time lead to further consolidation, but at the same time, fears of the past keep haunting me. Gunfire has stopped but the rhetoric has not. The rhetoric often gives rise to conflict.

If, as and when the history of the current Ukraine crisis, would be studied and written, it will be traced first to rhetoric, then what happened in Crimea and finally what happened in the last week of February 2022.

Toxic rhetoric must end to sustain the psyche of ceasefire, which in the context of J&K in the current global situation, means a lot for the people sick of the perennial conflict.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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