In this photograph taken on August 2, 2012 Indian Border Security Force (BSF) soldiers stand guard along fencing near the India-Pakistan Chachwal border outpost, some 65 kms north from the north-eastern Indian city of Jammu. Image Credit: AFP

New Delhi: India and Pakistan’s militaries said on Thursday that they agreed to stop firing on the disputed border in Kashmir where such exchange of gunfire has been frequent in recent months.

The military operational heads of the two countries spoke over telephone and agreed to discuss each other’s concerns that could disturb peace and lead to violence in the Himalayan region, a joint statement said.

"The two sides reviewed the situation along the Line of Control and all other sectors in a free, frank and cordial atmosphere," the statement said.

Both sides agreed for strict observance of all agreements, understandings and cease firing along the LoC and all other sectors with effect from midnight February 24 and February 25, 2021.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi welcomed the joint announcement and termed the move a “significant development” that can lead to a positive impact in the region facing serious threats due to continuous violation of the ceasefire. “India must sincerely abide by the ceasefire agreement” he urged.

Pakistan has registered strong protest over the relentless ceasefire violations and also attracted the attention of the international community towards the issue particularly the targeting of civilians, FM Qureshi said. In 2021, Pakistani officials said that Indian forces have violated the ceasefire at least 175 times, wounding eight civilians.

"Both sides reiterated that existing mechanisms of hotline contact and border flag meetings will be utilised to resolve any unforeseen situation or misunderstanding," the statement continued.

An official in New Delhi said the cessation was partly aimed at easing the fraught situation for civilians living along the border, who are regularly caught in the crossfire.

"We are cautiously optimistic that the violence levels and tensions along the LoC will come down," the official said, declining to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.

But India will not ease up on deployments along the LoC that aim to stop infiltration or counterinsurgency operations in the Kashmir valley, the official said.