LoC Agreement Of 2007
Although events prevented an agreement from being reached, the reality remains that the LoC is an idea that has survived the test of time, circumstances, and drastic transformations in the India-Pakistan equation.
Points to Ponder:
- Former Special Envoy Satinder Lambah reveals that an agreement on the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir, intended to make borders irrelevant, was ready to be signed by then-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President General Musharraf, but was shelved due to the 2007 Pakistani judiciary standoff and the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
- The agreement comprised a 14-point list of rules that included open trade, the abolition of cross-border terrorism, the protection of human rights, and the reduction of military presence on both sides of the LoC.
- The current state of India-Pakistan relations is bleak, with no political interaction, trade, direct travel links, or High Commissioners in each other’s nations.
- However, the relationship’s long arc always veers towards engagement, and the two parties are said to have negotiated a series of answers that would lead back to quasi-normalcy.
- The next step would be to revisit the nearly-completed deal from 15 years ago, which Lambah claims was legally validated but was affected by India’s decision to abolish J&K’s special status and statehood on August 5, 2019. However, these actions may not change the basis for a J&K dispute settlement.
- However, the back-channel process between India and Pakistan has continued and focuses on preventing hostilities, as it did following the downing of an Indian Air Force pilot in Pakistan in 2019, the LoC ceasefire agreement of 2021, or the aftermath of an Indian Air Force live missile accidentally launched into Pakistan in March 2022.
- According to reports, the two sides have discussed a series of actions that would lead to a return to quasi-normalcy, including the restoration of statehood and elections in J&K, the reappointment of High Commissioners, and the restoration of visas and people-to-people contacts. There have been discussions about efforts such as the Kartarpur Corridor and a “Sharda Peeth Corridor” across the temple in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir’s Neelum Valley.
- The next step could be to revisit the nearly completed deal from 15 years ago, which attempted to make the Line of Control obsolete by treating it as a normal border between the two countries. This deal was legally reviewed and might serve as the foundation for resolving the J&K dispute, even if New Delhi tries to withdraw J&K’s special status and statehood in 2019. Despite the two countries’ current difficult relations, history reveals that the relationship always tends towards engagement.
- Historical disagreements: India and Pakistan have a long history of territorial and political disagreements, notably the Kashmir issue.
- Border disputes: India and Pakistan’s border is strongly militarised, and there have been numerous battles and skirmishes along the border throughout the years.
- Terrorism: India has accused Pakistan of backing terrorist organisations responsible for strikes on Indian soil.
- Nuclear weapons: Both India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons, heightening tensions between the two countries.
- Diplomatic tensions: The two countries’ diplomatic relationship has been fragile, with regular accusations and counter-accusations of meddling in each other’s affairs.
- Water disputes: India and Pakistan share several rivers, and there have been disagreements about water distribution and management.
- Cultural differences: India and Pakistan have diverse cultural identities, which has occasionally resulted in conflicts and misunderstandings between the two countries.
- Opening up avenues of communication is the most critical step in settling any problem. India and Pakistan should hold high-level meetings regularly to discuss their issues and concerns.
- Measures to boost confidence and decrease tensions: Both countries should implement ceasefire agreements and exchange cultural and sporting delegations to boost trust and reduce tensions.
- Trade and economic links: Increased trade and economic ties will benefit both India and Pakistan. Encouragement of cross-border commerce and investment could contribute to mutual trust and economic development in the region.
- People-to-people relations: Increasing people-to-people contacts, such as through tourism and cultural exchanges, can help to bridge the gap and enhance understanding between the two countries.
- Identifying and addressing the root sources of tension: Both India and Pakistan should endeavour to identify and address the root reasons for their difficulties, such as historical conflicts and terrorism. This might include engaging in conversation to find a long-term solution to the Kashmir problem as well as taking firm action against terrorist organisations.