As LoC flareups go on, no sign of any solution

Civilians and soldiers have died on the Pakistani side, though numbers are hard to ascertain.

Between Thursday and Saturday last week, 11 Indians died as a consequence of Pakistan’s ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (LoC) and the international border in the Jammu region. Six of these were civilians from border villages, three were soldiers from the Army and two from the BSF. The Indian response was quick and robust, from what the government has revealed. Civilians and soldiers have died on the Pakistani side, though numbers are hard to ascertain. Typically, Pakistan tends to hide the number of Army deaths by inflating civilian casualties. For the past two years, ceasefire violations have been a running story which appears to have no end in sight. Official figures indicate well over 800 truce violations by Pakistan in 2017, approximately four times the number in 2016.

The two countries appear to have settled into the syndrome of war by other means, if we exclude deaths caused by Pakistani firing and shelling, and the Indian retaliation, as being not war. Routine diplomatic protests are lodged by both countries, knowing these would be regarded with scepticism by the other side. From the time he assumed office, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appeared to get on well with Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif, who gave the impression of responding positively to the steps taken by India. Mr Modi even went uninvited on Christmas Day 2015 to Mr Sharif’s home near Lahore to wish him on his birthday. But suddenly there was a rupture after the terrorist attack on the Pathankot airbase on New Year’s Day 2016. Since then, it has been all downhill.

Last year Mr Sharif was removed as PM through a court order, and most observers saw the hand of the Army in this. The Army is in complete command in Pakistan as of now, although political lightweights of Mr Sharif’s party are running the government after their mentor’s departure from the scene. Pakistan’s Army brass has little interest in working for any normalisation of ties. The men-in-khaki thrive in our neighbouring country by creating a sense of fear of India among the populace, and extolling militarism. This is a reason why the period after the Pathankot attack has seen rising terrorist activity in Kashmir, besides an expanding of trouble on the Line of Control and the international border.

With just over a year to go, the Narendra Modi government too appears in no mood to work for diplomatic solutions with Pakistan, and is permitting the security forces to take the lead at the sector level. The idea seems to be to convey to the Indian public that our forces are hitting the Pakistanis hard. Perhaps the expectation is that the impression of acting tough against Pakistan will bring electoral dividends. This is possibly the longest period of stasis in India-Pakistan ties.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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