Doval’s Secret Talks With Pak Led To Ceasefire Pact: Report

National Security Advisor Ajit Doval | File Photo

Srinagar: The announcement of holding all ceasefire agreements by India and Pakistan came in the backdrop of back-channel negotiations held over months between the National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and his counterpart in Islamabad to ensure peace along the borders, Hindustan Times reported on Thursday.

A person privy to the developments told HT that Doval and Moeed W Yusuf, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s special assistant on National Security Division and Strategic Policy Planning, have been in touch directly and via interlocutors from the intelligence community. The report said that home minister Amit Shah, defence minister Rajnath Singh and external affairs minister S Jaishankar were among a small group of top government leadership aware of the parleys.

“The joint statement is the first outcome of these conversations that included at least one face-to-face meeting in a third country,” the report said, while quoting the person privy to the developments.

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

Thursday’s announcement on holding truce along the LoC comes almost three years after a similar pact was inked in 2018 to uphold 2003 ceasefire agreement signed between the two nuclear countries.

The report quoted officials as saying that Thursday’s joint statement could be the first of the many steps that the two countries may take over the next few months to normalise relations, one step at a time.

The report also quoted National security planners as saying there were five developments over the last month or so that indicated a nuanced shift. The first sign of back-channel talks, the report said came earlier this month when Pak army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa spoke of Islamabad’s commitment to what he called the ideal of mutual respect and peaceful co-existence and said: “it is time to extend a hand of peace in all directions”.

The second development, the report said, was the toned-down statements that emerged from Islamabad three days later, on February 5 which is observed by the Pakistani establishment as Kashmir Solidarity Day. Simultaneously, there was a decline in the ceasefire violations along the border in Jammu and Kashmir in recent weeks, an official said.

“The fourth sign of a possible thaw in the relations was Pakistan steering clear of the Kashmir issue at last week’s Saarc meeting convened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the Covid-19 pandemic,” the report said.

The fifth indicator, the report said was allowing Imran Khan’s special aircraft to use the Indian airspace en route to Sri Lanka on Tuesday.

Interestingly, Pak had denied use of its airspace in 2019 by three Indian VVIP flights, including that of President Ram Nath Kovind to Europe, and another flight in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi travelled to US to attend the UN General Assembly session. Pakistani also didn’t allow the use of its airspace by another VVIP flight during Modi’s visit to Saudi Arabia in October 2019.

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