Pakistan resorted to the highest number of ceasefire violations over the 12 months preceding the announcement by the Indian and Pakistani militaries that they had begun strictly observing a ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) from midnight of 24 February. The two countries first agreed in 2003 to observe the truce along their de facto border in Jammu & Kashmir.
Government data accessed by media, the Pakistan army violated the ceasefire at least a dozen times daily on an average between February 2020 and February 2021. Pakistan resorted to 4,645 violations in 2020. August and September 2020 accounted for the highest number of violations for any two consecutive months in 17 years. The number of violations was more than 5,100 if those along the international border are counted. The escalation in ceasefire violations coincided with the first anniversary of the Centre’s move in August to strip Jammu & Kashmir of its semi-autonomous status that Islamabad reacted sharply to.
The data shows 835 ceasefire violations were reported in August and September last year. “There were 427 ceasefire violations on the LoC in August 2020. That is the highest number for any single month since November 2003. The Indian Army responded forcefully to the Pakistani violations. The LoC was most active last year since 2003,” said an official, asking not to be named.
Ceasefire violations sharply increased over the last five years – recording a 10-fold jump since 2016 when India carried out surgical strikes against terror pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir in response to the Islamabad-backed suicide attack on an army camp in Uri. The year 2016 accounted for 449 violations, with the numbers only increasing in the following years – 881 (2017), 1,629 (2018), and 3,168 (2019).
Betraying a clear pattern, Pakistan violates the ceasefire to help terrorists sneak into Jammu & Kashmir to destabilise the region.
“It is a positive that India and Pakistan have agreed to renew and abide by the ceasefire,” said Lieutenant General Vinod Bhatia (retd), a former Director-General of Military Operations (DGMO).
“At the tactical level, the Indian Army has raised the costs for Pakistan by effective retaliation to ceasefire violations, as the robust counter-infiltration grid has effectively neutralised any major infiltration bids…India benefits from a cold LoC, but the army will still need to be on the high vigil,” Bhatia said.
He said lowering tensions could even facilitate the resumption of talks at the diplomatic and political level. “The effort should be to sustain the ceasefire for as long as possible. But the challenge for India will be to change Pakistan’s behaviour as it continues with its proxy war.”
In a rare meeting, Bhatia as DGMO met his Pakistani counterpart at the Attari-Wagah border near Amritsar on 24 December 2013, to discuss ways to restore calm along the LoC. There were no ceasefire violations by Pakistan for almost seven months after those talks.