A thaw in relations between India and Pakistan is the first good political news of 2021 for the subcontinent. For too long Kashmir — the picturesque valley nestled in the Great Himalayas — has been a bone of contention between the two nuclear-armed nations.
With armies of India and Pakistan in an eyeball to ball confrontation at several places across the Line of Control (LoC) in the Kashmir region, fears that a border skirmish can result in a larger conflict always lingers.
Recent announcement by the Indian and Pakistani armies that they had begun adhering to a ceasefire along the LoC (from the midnight of February 24) is a welcome move. There is speculation that the latest development is a result of hectic back-channel parleys and a nudge from the new US administration but whatever the immediate spur, the surprise truce is critical for both nations.
Both India and Pakistan must build on the latest peace effort towards restarting a broader dialogue process and solve all impending issues
In a measured statement, the White House noted that the latest push is a positive step towards greater peace and stability in South Asia, which is in “our shared interest and we encourage both countries to keep building upon this progress”.
The UAE has also welcome the peace move. In a statement on Sunday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation affirmed that the UAE has close historical ties with India and Pakistan and that it commends the efforts of the two countries to reach this achievement. It also stressed that this is an important step towards achieving security, stability and prosperity in the region.
A much-needed respite
Hostility between India and Pakistan over the decades has often resulted in cross-border fire and violence. While there have been peace efforts by subsequent governments in both nations, peace has often been fragile and elusive. The latest ceasefire gives both nations a much-needed respite.
It gives the Indian army space to recoup after a hostile 2020 in which India sparred with China along the Sino-Indian border, including near the Pangong Lake in Ladakh. Pakistan will also get a respite at a time when its economy is not doing well because of the pandemic.
The move also has the scope to bring about a meaningful change to the people of Kashmir who are at the heart of this conflict. Previous border stand-offs and fighting has resulted in loss of lives, livelihood, infrastructure, and the displacement for many.
Both India and Pakistan must build on the latest peace effort towards restarting a broader dialogue process and solve all impending issues.