India’s Ministry of Defence on Thursday said that New Delhi and Pakistan had reached a ceasefire agreement along the Line of Control from February 25. The decision was reached during discussions between the director generals of military operations of India and Pakistan.

“In the interest of achieving mutually beneficial and sustainable peace along the borders, the two DGsMO [Director Generals of Military Operations] agreed to address each other’s core issues and concerns which have propensity to disturb peace and lead to violence,” 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 two sides reviewed the situation along the Line of Control between India and Pakistan, the statement said. “Both sides reiterated that existing mechanisms of hotline contact and border flag meetings will be utilised to resolve any unforeseen situation or misunderstanding,” the joint statement added.

The announcement came after an increase in firing along the LoC and other areas in the last few years. This declaration reaffirms the commitment of both the countries made during the 2003 ceasefire agreement.

According to the current mechanism, military officials of the two sides have weekly discussions, but the director generals establish contact when one of the sides requests dialogue, reported The Hindu.

The Indian government has informed Parliament that there were 5,133 ceasefire violations along the India-Pakistan border last year that caused 46 deaths. Till January 28, there were 299 such violations, and one death was reported till February 1.

This is the first time that a contact between the military officials of the two countries was publicised. The last time the Indian and Pakistani prime ministers met was when Narendra Modi visited Lahore on an unannounced visit on December 25, 2015.

Meanwhile, speaking at the weekly press briefing, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava on Thursday said that India desired “normal neighbourly ties with Pakistan”, PTI reported. “We are committed to resolve all issues bilaterally in a peaceful manner,” Srivastava said.

Political parties in Jammu and Kashmir also welcomed the development. Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti tweeted, saying that “dialogue is the only way forward if both countries want to stop the unending cycle of violence and bloodshed across the borders”.

The Omar Abdullah-led National Conference said it hoped that the “statement will be followed in letter and spirit”.