Pakistan and India Renew Pledge on Cease-Fire at Troubled Border

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan and India on Thursday reaffirmed their commitment to a cease-fire along the troubled border between the two countries after a year of bloody skirmishes, a move welcomed in both countries for lowering tensions in the region.

A joint statement released by the militaries of the two countries said that top officials from both sides had agreed to a strict observance of the truce along the Line of Control, as the disputed stretch of the frontier is called, and to continue communicating through a hotline to resolve potential misunderstandings.

“This is a victory of diplomacy and, God willing, more avenues will open in the future,” Moeed Yusuf, Pakistan’s de facto national security adviser, said in a brief statement to The New York Times.

An Indian official with knowledge of the developments, who asked for anonymity to comment because he was not authorized to speak to the news media, said that back-channel meetings between the two sides in neutral locations had intensified over the past month and had led to the renewed commitment.

Indian news media reported that at least one face-to-face meeting between Mr. Yusuf and his Indian counterpart, Ajit Doval, had taken place in a third country to advance the efforts to reduce tensions.

Mr. Yusuf, without addressing the exact nature of the discussions, confirmed the talks.

“These things happen behind the scenes — it takes a lot of effort,” he said.

Tensions have been particularly high between India and Pakistan since airstrikes in 2019.

In retaliation for an attack on Indian forces in the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir, India blamed militants in Pakistan and carried out aerial bombings across the border. Pakistan responded with an airstrike in the Indian side of Kashmir.

While those were the most notable episodes of violence in recent years between the two nations, which have faced off in multiple wars, smaller deadly skirmishes have frequently broken out along the border despite a cease-fire agreement in 2003. Last year saw the highest number of violations, with about 5,000 incidents recorded.

The increasing trouble along the border with Pakistan was threatening to bog down India in a two-front war, as tensions were also mounting along the border with China.

The news of a renewed commitment to the cease-fire was particularly welcomed by communities living along the border who have borne the brunt of the skirmishes and mortar shelling from both sides.

Lal Din Khatana, a farmer who lives next to the fence dividing the two countries in the village of Churnada, in northern Kashmir, said that he had run out of his house to inform his neighbors and friends as soon as he had heard the news.

He said that hundreds of thousands of people living along the Line of Control had endured a senseless loss of life and repeated displacement that had deprived them of basic dignity. His own house has been destroyed three times over the past two decades by shelling from the Pakistani side, he said.

“The dead won’t come back, but those who are still alive need to live a dignified life,” Mr. Khatana, 48, said. “This news has given us a fresh lease of life.”

Salman Masood reported from Islamabad, and Mujib Mashal from New Delhi. Hari Kumar contributed reporting from New Delhi, and Iqbal Kirmani from Srinagar, Kashmir.

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