Line of Cooperation

OVER two months into ceasefire along Line of Control, there is already ample evidence of life returning to normal among border dwellers. In recent weeks, there have been many reports about the marriage celebrations in border areas of Rajouri and Poonch. Similarly, there have been similar reports from across the line of control. One example that stands out is PaK's Battal valley which over the years has been most impacted by the firing from this side. According to reports in international media the villagers in the area have resumed economic and social activities.

The ceasefire agreement was dramatically signed by the militaries of the two countries in February. The move came reportedly following an extended back channel dialogue between the two countries. Ever since there have been more efforts to improve the relations. Last week Pakistan offered to provide essential medical relief supplies to India, which is in the grips of a virulent second Covid-19 wave and struggling to meet critical hospital needs, including medical oxygen.

There are, however, still apprehensions among the people that the things might go still back to square one. More so among the people living alongside the LoC. There is already an example of what happened to original ceasefire agreement between the two nations which was signed in November 2003. However, by 2010, the agreement had lost its relevance due to frequent ceasefire violations that touched an all-time high in 2020 with over 5,000 incidents of firing and shelling being recorded.

A halt to the frequent firing exchanges will make a redeeming difference to the lives of lakhs of border residents on both sides of the Line of Control. But it won't change anything as far as the situation in the Valley where militancy continues to reign supreme.

The issue of militancy can be addressed if India and Pakistan go back to dialogue. Talks could go a long way to reduce the tension between the neighbours.The calm borders had become an important factor in the normalization of the relations between the neighbours, enabling them to start one of the most promising dialogue processes through 2003-2007 which by accounts of the top leaders of the two countries who were at the helm of it was close to a breakthrough on Kashmir.

But the challenge for the two countries would be to sustain a dialogue should it start. In past many such attempts have been aborted by a major attack in India traced to elements in Pakistan or sometimes the rigid negotiating positions of the two countries. It would be interesting to see how the two countries negotiate their respective conditionalities before reaching out to each other. The dialogue that will follow, as a result, will go a long to usher in peace in the region and turn the LoC into a line of cooperation

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