In the Jammu region on Sunday, there was a break in the continual violation of the ceasefire by Pakistan only when the BSF pummelled Pakistani Rangers’ positions with heavy and medium-range mortar shells, inflicting serious casualties. According to the BSF, the Pakistan side sued for peace and begged the Indian paramilitary to stop firing. This does not, however, mean that the Pakistanis won’t resume unprovoked firing at Indian border guards and the civilian population in border areas as soon as they have recouped. That’s the unforgiving nature of the politics being played out between these two countries these days.
Since January, Pakistan has been violating the ceasefire on a steady basis. Thirty-eight Indians have been killed in the Pakistani shelling: 19 civilians and 19 security forces’ personnel. That’s not a small number given that there is no declared outbreak of hostility. In fact, the Pakistani firing was stepped up on Saturday when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was visiting J&K to inaugurate some infrastructure projects.
This level of show of mutual animosity can carry on indefinitely and become the new normal. Perhaps both sides can live with this. Or, we can step on the gas unprovoked by Pakistan to test to what pitch the latter can go, short of threatening nuclear confrontation. This can become a real option. The alternative is to take the published remarks of Pakistan Army chief Gen. Qamar Bajwa at face value. He has said his country wants to have peace with India. A former high-profile head of RAW, India’s external spy agency, has suggested that we invite Gen. Bajwa for a dialogue. This can be given due thought by the government.