NSA Doval led secret back-channels talks with Pak for months before DGMO pact. A joint statement issued by India and Pakistan on a ceasefire agreement between their top military commanders comes just months after National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and his Islamabad counterpart began a series of talks to ensure peace across the border, people said.
NSA Doval and Moeed W Yusuf, Assistant to the Prime Minister Imran Khan who is the Special Assistant to the National Security Division and Strategic Policy Planning, have been in direct contact with liaison from the intelligence community, a person familiar with negotiations confirmed.
The joint statement is the first result of the talks, which included at least one face-to-face meeting in a third country, the person quoted above said. He added that only a small group of top government officials including Union Home Affairs Minister Amit Shah, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and Foreign Minister Jaishankar were aware of the details of the talks.
A joint statement on Thursday, released in New Delhi by the defense department, said the DGMO commander of both forces had agreed to strict the observance of all the agreements and also understanding and stop firing on the Line of Control since the midnight Wednesday.
The two senior executives also “agreed to deal with each other’s problems and concerns which has the potential to disrupt peace and lead to violence”.
Indeed, this is not the first time that two military officials have agreed to negotiate peace at the border. They signed a similar agreement in 2018 while promising to adhere strictly to the 2003 ceasefire guidelines in 2003 by letter and spirit.
Officials say Thursday’s joint statement could be the first step many countries can take in the next few months to mend relations, one step at a time.
National security planners say there have been five incidents in the past month or so that indicate a negative change.
The first sign that back-channel chats were on track came earlier this month. Pakistan’s army chief of staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, contrary to his earlier statement against India after the Balakot air strike in 2019, on February 2 spoke of Islamabad’s commitment to what he called respect and peace and said: “It is time to extend a hand of peace on all sides”.
The next was a written statement issued by Islamabad three days later, on February 5 being recognized by a Pakistani institution as Kashmir Solidarity Day. “I found it strange,” said an anti-terrorism official who did not intend to cover up the secrecy.
At the same time, the official said that there had been a reduction in violation of the ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir in recent weeks.
A senior government official said Gen Bajwa’s widely publicized peace proposal, a reduction in arms embargoes and an opposition speech in Pakistan were linked to the silent talks that were taking place.
A fourth sign of a meltdown in relations was that Pakistan was resolving the Kashmir crisis at last week’s Saarc summit called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Covid-19 epidemic. Dr Faisal Sultan, Special Assistant to Prime Minister Imran Khan in Health, has refrained from imminent issue, in stark contrast to Pakistan’s previous attempt to raise the issue of Kashmir at a Saarc conference held in March last year.
The fifth indicator, the official said, was New Delhi’s move to allow Imran Khan’s special aircraft to operate the Indian air force bound for Sri Lanka on Tuesday. Pakistan Air Force Prime Minister Airlines flight flew along the coast of India and beyond the Lakshadweep islands before arriving in Colombo.
The decision so that they can allow a special aircraft to operate the airspace was in stark contrast to the Pakistani move in the year 2019, when Islamabad denied permission so that to use Pakistani airspace on three Indian aircraft VVIP.
In September 2019, Pakistan did not allow the use of its airspace by a special plane carrying President Ram Nath Kovind to Europe, and another plane by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the US to attend a UN General Assembly session. Pakistan also did not allow the use of its airspace by another VVIP aircraft during Modi’s visit to Saudi Arabia in October 2019.