India and Pakistan agree to stop cross-border firing

The militaries of India and Pakistan issued a rare joint statement Thursday (February 25), saying that they had agreed to observe a ceasefire along the disputed border in Kashmir.

The nuclear-armed neighbors signed a ceasefire agreement along the Line of Control in the Kashmir region in 2003, but the truce has frayed in recent years, and there have been mounting casualties among villagers living close to the de facto border.

The joint statement said: "Both sides agreed for strict observance of all agreements, understandings and cease firing along the Line of Control and all other sectors with effect from midnight 24/25 Feb 2021."

The return to a truce was settled by the two armies director-generals of military operations.

There has been a significant increase in ceasefire violations since 2014, leading to nearly 300 civilian fatalities, according to a source in Pakistan's military.

Since the start of the year, India had counted 591 violations by Pakistan.

Kashmir has long been a flashpoint between the neighbors, which claim the region in full but rule only parts.

But tensions were renewed after New Delhi withdrew the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir state in August 2019 and split it into two federally administered territories.

Politicians in Indian Kashmir said they welcomed the commitment to return to a ceasefire, one of the few signs of cooperation in recent years between the neighbors who have fought three full-scale wars since gaining independence in 1947.