From midnight of 24-25 February, India and Pakistan have agreed to a ‘strict observance’ of ceasefire truce along the border besides all agreements and understandings between the two countries. The announcement of was made in a joint statement after the DGMO (Director General of Military Operations) level talks. Two days later, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan took to Twitter saying that the onus is on India to create an enabling environment for further progress. He also raked up the Kashmir issue and said that India must take the necessary steps to meet the long-standing demand & right of the Kashmiri people to self-determination according to UNSC resolutions.
The timing is important. Because the Pakistan PM has made this statement on the second anniversary of what Pakistan calls retaliatory airstrikes to the Indian Air Force (IAF) targeting a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) camp at Balakot in 2019. Imran Khan, in his series of tweets, called India’s airstrikes against Pakistan illegal and a reckless military adventure.
Cornered in the country by the Pakistan Democratic Movement – an alliance of 11 opposition parties – over a range of issues including the depleting economy and interference of the army in politics, Pakistan Prime Minister was, in fact, playing to the gallery tweeting against India and invoking the cause of Kashmir.
Imran Khan was also trying to put up a brave face calling out India in the wake of debates raging in Pakistan that Imran Khan government (along with the army) was coerced into resorting to 2003 ceasefire truce as India succeeded in cornering it on the world stage on the issue of terrorism.
Sadly, the same internal politics of Pakistan and the ruling dispensation’s dependency on the army’s blessing for their survival have always hampered the country’s relations with India. And after two years of the Pulwama attack, when an announcement of the ceasefire was generating hopes of fresh measures to restore ties in both countries, the Pakistani Prime Minister’s rhetoric on India and Kashmir has displayed the same old non-seriousness and lackadaisical approach which have allowed the wounds to fester for decades.
What is 2003 ceasefire agreement?
It is interesting to know that the ceasefire agreement in 2003 was initiated by Pakistan. Two days before the final agreement between the armed forces came into place on 25 November 2003, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali in a nationwide address had declared a unilateral ceasefire along the line of control. The truce was the first formal ceasefire between the two countries since the beginning of an insurgency in Kashmir in the 1990s.
When the agreement took place Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister of India. The truce was indeed a landmark for bringing peace along the border. But after a few years, cross-bordering firing restarted, which even intensified after the Uri terror attack in 2016.
Recently, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh informed Parliament that in 2020 Pakistan had resorted to over 5000 incidents of ceasefire violations leading to the death of 46 armed forces personnel.
After a gap of over 17 years, when Pakistan once again has vowed to adhere to the ceasefire truce, one can only hope that this time the notoriously rogue nation abides by it also. Though, given the infamous history of Pakistan, India must take the neighbour’s pledge with a pinch of salt and be vigilant of its activities. Because the past experiences tell us that Pakistan has always backstabbed us when we have trusted it.
Pakistan has a history of rogue behaviour
Last time, Prime Minister Narendra Modi opened his arms for his counterpart in Pakistan in 2015, making an unannounced visit to Lahore to attend the wedding of Nawa Sharif’s granddaughter. But in return for the warm gesture, Pathankot airbase was attacked by the Pakistani terrorists, followed by another terror attack in Uri and India had to respond with a cross border surgical strike.
The bilateral relations further deteriorated after the terror attack in Pulwama in 2019 and the retaliatory airstrike by India on the terror camps in Pakistan’s Balakot. Talks were put on hold, trade across the border declined, diplomatic ties between the two countries were downgraded and the Indian government began to isolate Pakistan on the world stage on the issue of terrorism.
Since 2018, Pakistan has failed to get out of the grey list of the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) due to its inaction against the terror groups in the country. Essentially, the global money-laundering watchdog, FATF, places those countries on the grey list which are considered a safe haven for terror funding.
FATF grey-list costs Pakistan $38 billion: Report
According to a report, cash-strapped Pakistan has suffered a loss of $38 billion due to its greylisting by FATF, as it involves economic sanctions from the financial institutions like IMF, World Bank and ADB. Plus, a grey-listed country faces hurdles in getting loans from these institutions and the member countries, literally reducing its international trade and ensuring an international boycott.
In spite of the greylisting Pakistan has failed to fulfill FATF’s six crucial obligations of FATF. And India has been maintaining that UNSC proscribed terrorists like Hafiz Saeed and Masood Azhar continue to enjoy the government and army’s support in Pakistan.
While Pakistan is desperate to improve its financial conditions by restoring trade ties with India, the Biden factor could also have played a role in the ceasefire truce announcement as the Imran Khan government seeks to improve its international image.
But India, undoubtedly, will continue to stick to its stand on terrorism, asking Pakistan to shun its state policy of sponsoring terrorists operating from its territory and dismantle the infrastructure from where terror attacks are launched in other countries. Until then a threat of FATF blacklisting looms on Pakistan.