Cross-LoC tensions


While war hysteria in the subcontinent may have subsided somewhat, normalisation still eludes Islamabad and New Delhi. One disturbing sign of this came in the shape of a briefing the new defence secretary gave senators on Thursday in Islamabad. The official told lawmakers that India had moved an additional army division to the Line of Control while also bringing fighter jets to a forward base. The defence secretary also apprised the senators of the fact that India had committed 58 ceasefire violations at the LoC since last month’s Uri attack. Moreover, on Thursday the Foreign Office summoned the Indian deputy high commissioner over “unprovoked ceasefire violations by Indian troops”; officials say a 28-year-old man was killed and several civilians injured due to Indian firing earlier this week. While these reports are indeed cause for concern, there is no reason to believe that cross-LoC tensions cannot be addressed through dialogue.
True, the Uri attack has put the peace process on the back burner and caused shrill, jingoistic lobbies to beat the drums of war; yet, neither establishment seems to be in the mood for the escalation of hostilities. In the peculiar environment of the subcontinent, this is positive news. The fact is that even in the immediate aftermath of the Uri attack, the DGMOs were in contact, as were the two countries’ national security advisers. These channels should continue to be used to address the issue of LoC violations and other irritants. India’s inquiries into the Uri incident can continue, but the Modi government should not forsake dialogue with Pakistan, while all sides should realise that the subcontinent cannot afford another war. At the same time, the root cause of the present bitterness, indeed of the bitterness that has poisoned Pak-India ties from the beginning ie the situation in Kashmir should not be forgotten. It cannot be denied that the current stir in the India-held region is indigenous. Instead of pushing the narrative of bilateral tension, India should realise that crushing the aspirations of the Kashmiris is not likely to dampen their quest for freedom. For both Islamabad and New Delhi, the better option is to forsake confrontation and bring all issues to the table — including prickly ones such as Kashmir and terrorism — and negotiate a way out of the morass so that the people of both countries, as well as the Kashmir region, can look forward to a better future.