15:03 GMT20 April 2021
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    The 1947 partition of India by the British before the creation of an independent India and Pakistan has caused massive sectarian violence, refugee crises, four wars, dozens of border skirmishes and standoffs, and ultimately, fears of a nuclear exchange between the nuclear-armed states which could kill hundreds of millions of people.

    Diplomats from the United Arab Emirates are responsible for brokering the secret talks which led to last month’s surprise joint statement by India and Pakistan in which both countries promised to observe all agreements on the ceasefire along the Line of Control in Kashmir and in other sectors, Bloomberg reports, citing anonymous officials said to be familiar with the situation.

    One official told the outlet that the truce, which commits both countries to respect the 2003 ceasefire agreement, is just the first step in a "larger roadmap" which promises to create a lasting peace between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

    The next step reportedly involves returning envoys to one another’s capitals, thereby ending the diplomatic spat which has raged since 2019, when New Delhi revoked the disputed majority-Muslim Jammu and Kashmir region’s autonomous status in the wake of major skirmishes with Pakistan. After that, it is hoped, India and Pakistan can discuss trade and finding a lasting solution to the Kashmir issue, which has poisoned ties between the two nations for decades and saw the nations fight one another in three wars in 1947, 1965 and 1999.

    An Indian army convoy moves on the Srinagar- Ladakh highway at Gagangeer, northeast of Srinagar, Indian-controlled Kashmir, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020
    © AP Photo / Mukhtar Khan
    An Indian army convoy moves on the Srinagar- Ladakh highway at Gagangeer, northeast of Srinagar, Indian-controlled Kashmir, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020

    Bloomberg’s sources admitted that the chances of a permanent peace appear low, and that the return of diplomats and the restoration of trade are likely the limit of détente. It's suspected that one reason for this is that political opportunists in both countries regularly use the Kashmir issue for their own advantage, particularly around election time.

    The Emirati, Indian, and Pakistani foreign ministries have not commented on the veracity of Bloomberg’s reporting. Late last month, Abu Dhabi issued a statement saying it welcomed the truce, and that it would welcome a permanent ceasefire between two countries it has “close historical ties with.”

    The Indian and Pakistani sides issued a surprise joint communique on 24 February promising to “strictly” observe all agreements and adhere to the ceasefire along the Line of Control – with the statement being the first of its kind since the signing of the 2003 ceasefire agreement. The two sides have accused one another of violating the 2003 agreement thousands of times in recent years.

    The February statement indicated that the two sides had “reviewed the situation along the Line of Control and all other sectors in a free, frank and cordial atmosphere,” and “agreed to address each other’s core issues and concerns which have propensity to disturb peace and lead to violence” in the interests of “achieving mutually beneficial and sustainable peace along the borders.” The nations also promised to preserve hotline contact and border meetings “to resolve any unforeseen situation or misunderstanding.”

    Indian and US media including The Hindustan Times and The New York Times previously reported that the February agreement was reached after months of back channel talks between Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Moeed Yusuf, a special assistant on national security to Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan. These reports made no mention of any UAE involvement in talks.

    UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed visited New Delhi for talks with his counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar a day after the ceasefire agreement was announced, with the officials said to have “discussed all regional and international issues of common interest and exchanged views on them.” No mention of UAE involvement in ceasefire negotiations was made in any official diplomatic communiques.

    The latest major flare-up in India-Pakistan tensions took place in February-March 2019, when a terror attack in India-controlled Kashmir killed 40 troops, prompting New Delhi to approve air strikes against alleged al-Qaeda*-affiliated terrorist forces inside Pakistan. The incidents led to dogfights between Indian and Pakistani jets, and caused fighting in border areas which killed dozens of troops and civilians on both sides.


    * A terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries.

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