India and Pakistan Pursue a Thaw in Kashmir—Again

India and Pakistan Pursue a Thaw in Kashmir—Again
An Indian soldier looks toward the Pir Panjal mountain range from one of their forward posts at the Line of Control between India and Pakistan, Dec. 16, 2020 (AP photo by Channi Anand).

In late February, India and Pakistan announced a cease-fire along their de facto border in the contested region of Kashmir. In a joint statement, the two countries’ military authorities said that there will be a “strict observance of all agreements, understandings and cease firing,” while also claiming they will seek to “address each other’s core issues and concerns” to ensure sustainable peace between the two long-time enemies.

The announcement essentially revives a 2003 cease-fire agreement along the Line of Control, or LoC, as the de facto border is known. It was followed on March 18 by a speech by Pakistan’s army chief, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, in which he called upon both countries to “bury the past and move forward,” generating some optimism among India-Pakistan watchers.

As with any positive developments in India-Pakistan relations, however, it is prudent to remain cautious. All too often in recent years, progress in bilateral relations has usually been short-lived, with contentious political and security concerns—Kashmir for Pakistan and cross-border terrorism for India—continuing to represent insurmountable obstacles to diplomatic engagement. At present, even the short-term durability of this cease-fire remains uncertain, to say nothing of a long-term reset in bilateral ties.

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