India-Pakistan agreement on ceasefire rekindles hope for peaceful future among border residents26 February 2021
Jammu: The announcement by India and Pakistan to strictly observe all agreements on ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) and other sectors has rekindled hope for a peaceful future among border residents in Jammu and Kashmir who have been living under constant fear of firing and shelling. 'We are joyous over the news of a fresh agreement between the two countries to observe complete ceasefire along the borderline. It has rekindled hope among us,' Kalal-resident Mohmmad Isaaq said. Isaaq hoped that Pakistan would keep its promise of complete observance of the ceasefire agreement. 'We hope Pakistan keeps the promise of not firing on us. We do not feel that they will religiously observe ceasefire. They have made such promises in the past as well, only to violate them,' he said. For the past few years, Pakistan has engaged in shelling and firing along the LoC and the International Border (IB) resulting in casualties, damage to houses, schools, health centres and religious places. 'We have suffered a lot to due Pakistani firing and shelling.... Education of kids was affected. Houses were damaged. There were casualties. The fresh agreement of maintaining complete ceasefire is a happy news for us. Hope it stays,' Sarpanch Bhawani in Rajouri district Sunil Kumar said. Subash Chander, a Panch, said although they are very happy over the news, but it is difficult to trust Pakistan. Similar apprehension was raised by Kerni-resudent Mohmmad Ashraf who welcomed the fresh agreement but raised question over the intention of Pakistan. Kiran Kumar, a Kathua District Development Council (DDC) member, says that it is a happy news for border residents. 'We thank the central government for this decision. We want Pakistan to behave as a good neighbour by ensuring zero firing from their side. Farmers will fearlessly cultivate their lands on border. Life will be better,' he said. India and Pakistan on Thursday announced that they have agreed to strictly observe all agreements on ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir and other sectors. A joint statement issued in Islamabad and New Delhi said the Director Generals of Military Operations of the two countries held discussions over the established mechanism of hotline contact and reviewed the situation along the LoC and all other sectors in a 'free, frank and cordial' atmosphere. India and Pakistan signed a ceasefire agreement in 2003, but it has hardly been followed in letter and spirit over past several years with more violations than observance of the pact. In written response to a question in Lok Sabha earlier this month, Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy said a total of 10,752 cases of ceasefire violations have taken place along India's border with Pakistan in the last three years, in which 72 security personnel and 70 civilians were killed. He said 364 security personnel and 341 civilians were injured in cross-border firings along the International Border and the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir in 2018, 2019 and 2020. India shares a 3,323-km border with Pakistan, of which 221 km of the IB and 740 km of the LoC fall in Jammu and Kashmir.