Manash Pratim Bhuyan
The holding of the ceasefire between Indian and Pakistani armies along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir for the past 3 months has contributed to a feeling of peace and security and it is the first step towards a long road to normalisation of ties between the two countries, Chief of Army Staff Gen MM Naravane has said.
In an exclusive interview to PTI, Gen Naravane, at the same time, said the ceasefire does not mean India’s fight against terrorism has come to a halt and noted there was no reason to believe the terror infrastructure along the LoC has been dismantled by the Pakistan Army.
The Army chief said consistency in the reduction in infiltration attempts and terrorist incidents in J&K will go a long way in assuring India of Pakistani intent to foster good neighbourly relations. Gen Naravane said adherence to the ceasefire pact has “definitely” contributed to the overall feeling of peace and security in the region and boosted prospects of peace after a long spell of flare-ups.
“Ceasefire along the LoC does not mean that our fight against terrorism has come to a halt. We do not have any reasons to believe that the terror infrastructure along the LoC has been dismantled by the Pakistan Army.
“Whether it is their inability or unwillingness, both are equally dangerous and concerning, especially seen in the light of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan,” the Army chief said, referring to the Biden administration’s decision to pull out American troops from Afghanistan by September 11.
Referring to the ceasefire, Gen Naravane said there was not a single incident of cross-border firing by the two armies after the pact came into effect though there was an incident involving the Pakistani Rangers in the Jammu sector.
“This year, we have seen a drastic reduction in the violence levels in J&K. Security forces and other government agencies are working in sync to maintain pressure on terror groups and squeeze out the logistics support,” he said. “Consistency in a reduction in infiltration attempts and terrorist incidents in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir will go a long way in assuring us of Pakistani intent to foster good neighbourly relations with us,” Gen Naravane said.
He said there was a renewed emphasis on observing the ceasefire agreement of 2003 due to the heavy losses of civilian and military lives across the LoC.
“Cessation of firing is in the interest of building trust between the two armies, for giving chance to peace and for the benefit of the population residing along the LoC,” he said.
The Army chief said India would like to continue with the ceasefire so it contributes to stability and improvement in the relationship. “It is the first step towards the long road to normalisation of relations with Pakistan. From our side, we would like to continue with the ceasefire so that it contributes to stability and improvement in the relationship,” he said.