The security situation on the Afghanistan border, internal problems and fears of sanctions under the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) could have been the factors behind Pakistan agreeing to a ceasefire on the Line of Actual Control (LoC), army chief General M M Naravane has said.
While expressing optimism on a peace process given that the agreement was holding, the army chief said that terror infrastructure, including training camps and launchpads, remain active across the border and forces remain on alert to check any infiltration bid.
Speaking at the India Economic Conclave, Gen Naravane said that Pakistan should now dismantle the terror infrastructure and cease attempts to send terrorists across the LoC as the next steps towards peace.
“In the whole month of March, not a single shot has been fired on the LoC barring an odd incident. This is the first time in 4-5 years that the LoC has been silent that really bodes well for the future,” the army chief said, adding that a wait and watch policy is being followed and the upcoming summer months would be key to know how serious Pakistan is about peace.
“The situation on their western border with Afghanistan, things are not very rosy there. The threat of the FATF that hangs over their head. They want to get out of the grey list and third is their domestic compulsions,” Gen Naravane said, listing out possible reasons for the ceasefire talks.
The army chief said that India’s core issue is that Pakistan needs to stop its support for terrorism for bilateral ties to normalise, adding that intelligence inputs have been received that terrorists remain at launch pads, waiting to cross over at the first opportunity.
Given that the ceasefire agreement is between the director generals of military operations, Gen Naravane said that he remains optimistic about the peace process as the Pakistani Army is on board. He added that there have been attempts to infiltrate or conduct cross-border duels since the February ceasefire agreement.
On China, the army chief said that efforts to lower tensions in Ladakh have been going well but patrols have not resumed as they could possibly lead to an inadvertent escalation. “Some areas still remain under discussion and that will be the focus of talks in the next round of discussions…patrolling hasn’t resumed as we feel that tensions are still running high and when patrols resume there are always chances of face offs. We believe we should go step by step and then through the talks, we can see when the patrols can be resumed,” he said.
The army chief said that on Ladakh, the guiding principle remains that traditional rights to patrol need to be restored and a common understanding on that has to be reached. He expressed optimism that China would abide by the latest agreements reached on de-escalation on the Ladakh border and the two sides could possibly have a larger agreement to prevent any such incident in the future.