After months of lobbing artillery shells across the heavily fortified de facto border that divides Indian and Pakistani areas of control in the Himalayan region of Kashmir, New Delhi and Islamabad say they have reached a rare ceasefire.
In a statement late Tuesday, Pakistan’s military said the two sides had agreed to restore peace along the demarcation, known as the Line of Control, that splits bitterly contested, Muslim-majority Kashmir between them.
Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper reports that more than 100 Pakistani soldiers have died in nearly 18 months of cross-border artillery duels. The newspaper says the agreement to stop shooting “was reached during a hotline conversation between the Directors General of Military Operations of Pakistani and Indian armies” — Gen. Sahir Shamshad Mirza and Lt. Gen. Anil Chauhan, respectively.
Dawn says the conversation was initiated by the Pakistani side.
The Times of India writes: “The development comes after ceasefire violations (CFVs) in just the first five months of 2018 broke all annual records since 2003, with the two armies regularly using light artillery guns, anti-tank guided missiles and heavy mortars to target each other and civilians getting caught in the middle.”
India and Pakistan became separate countries after British rule in the subcontinent ended in 1947. However, the fate of Kashmir, a lush and picturesque Himalayan valley, was left undetermined, with both sides claiming the region in its entirety.
Kashmir has been the subject of all but one of the four declared wars since independence for the two countries, both of which now possess nuclear weapons.