Been there, done that! That would be the most apt response to the announcement by India and Pakistan on maintaining the ceasefire at the LoC in J&K. There is no doubt that Pakistan has suffered on the diplomatic and economic front because of the terrorist acts committed by its deep state and the radical Islamist groups it supports. For too long has the international community ignored the wounds inflicted on India by Pak sponsored cross-border terrorism but, now, that it is being experienced firsthand in Afghanistan and Balochistan, countries like the US have realised the futility of a ‘neutral’ stance. All of this has led to intense pressure on Pakistan, forcing it to undergo yet another chameleon like change of colour.
There have been similar détentes in the past when improved Indo-Pak relations were sabotaged by the Pakistan military when civilian governments were in power; and the terrorist groups when the generals had taken over. The Kargil intrusion and Pulwama are two instances that immediately come to mind.
The immediate cause for the agreement regarding the LoC is very probably the Modi Government’s decision to hit back hard every time firing took place from Pakistan’s side. This has hurt the adversary badly and generated negative public opinion against the Imran Khan government. However, it is unlikely that the ceasefire will hold very long because of Pakistan’s need to help terrorists cross the LoC. In fact, it may just be a ploy to contain Indian action against such elements by classifying it as a violation of the ceasefire. India will need, therefore, to be even more alert in this regard.
There has been speculation that the LoC agreement is the result of back channel talks between NSA Ajit Doval and his Pakistani counterpart. This has been denied and seems more like wishful thinking on the part of certain elements in the media. Surely the Indian security establishment has not forgotten past experience. It must also be aware of the shameless hypocrisy of Imran Khan, who claims to be working for peace between the two countries, but is easily the most radicalised of Pakistan’s leaders ever. He sought unsuccessfully to build a coalition of Islamic countries against India and could only net Turkey and Malaysia. That, too, has failed to get off the ground. If he is pretending to behave, it is only because of India’s hard and uncompromising approach. There is no reason now to ease the pressure. A lot more needs to happen before any kind of normalisation in relations takes place.