November 2003 News

Ceasefire At Midnight

25 November 2003
The Pioneer

New Delhi: Keen to sustain the momentum of the peace initiative, India has agreed to the Pakistani offer of ceasefire from midnight, Tuesday, along the Line of Control (LoC), the International Border and the Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) in the Siachen Glacier area.The important agreement to bring down temperatures along the Indo-Pak dividing lines came about on Tuesday during the weekly interaction between the Directors General of Military Operations (DGMO) of both countries. A Ministry of External Affairs release said that 'Directors General of Military Preparations of India and Pakistan, in course of their weekly conversation today, agreed to observe a ceasefire with effect from midnight tonight along the International Border, LoC and Actual Ground Position Line in Jammu and Kashmir'. India, however, made it clear that it reserved the right to shoot infiltrators, sources said here on Thursday. The ceasefire coincides with Eid in India. Pakistan celebrated the festival on Tuesday. Incidentally, the security establishment, while expressing cautious optimism, had urged the political leadership at a recent meeting to first ask Pakistan to end infiltration from across the 745-km LoC into Jammu and Kashmir and then agree to a ceasefire, the sources said. The security establishment was of the view that Pakistan would not stop cross-border terrorism and infiltration. Admitting the fact that a political decision was paramount in a democratic setup, the security establishment, however, apprised the leadership that Pakistan had not dismantled the terrorist infrastructure. Moreover, the security forces are preparing for a rather 'hot' winter this year as the levels of terrorist violence have not come down. In fact, operational commanders are now in the process of fine-tuning their strategy for anti-insurgency operations in the snow-bound upper reaches of the Pir Panjal range. The political leadership was also informed that if Pakistan agrees to put a stop to infiltration, the security forces would monitor the situation for a while and then advise the government accordingly, sources said. India opted to go by Pakistan Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali's offer of ceasefire on Sunday after saying it would respond 'positively' to Pakistan's gesture. However, India also said on Monday that full ceasefire on a durable basis is possible only when infiltration along the LoC ends and offered ceasefire on the AGPL in Siachen as no infiltration takes place from there. Pakistan immediately reciprocated on Monday and announced that the ceasefire offer included Siachen. The truce decision on Tuesday was wrapped up by DGMO Lt. Gen. B. S. Takhar and his Pakistani counterpart Major General Mohammad Yousuf over hotline on Tuesday. The announcement about the ceasefire was made simultaneously in New Delhi and Islamabad. The ceasefire covers the 778-km LoC, 150-km AGPL in Siachen and the 198-km International Border. Incidentally, Siachen, where the two armies are facing each other for about two decades, is the world's highest battlefield with troops operating in temperatures of minus 30 to 40 degrees. The Vajpayee government, in an effort to bring normalcy to the strife-torn state of Jammu and Kashmir, had announced non-initiation of combat operations (NICO) against militants for about six months in the year 2000. The NICO period lasted from November 28, 2000 to May 23, 2001.


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