Reflections on LoC incidents
16 September, 2013
After an uneasy calm, the Indian Army again violated the ceasefire at the LoC on September 2. This time it was at the Nakyal Sector. Two civilians were injured.
Pakistan, in a show of great restraint and maturity, reacted to the violation in a responsible manner ensuring that the volatile situation at the LoC did not spiral out of control. After this particular ceasefire violation and the ones in not too distant a future, Pakistan was deeply hurt to hear the statements from seasoned politicians and Indian generals who were creating war hysterics, writes Osman Khan.
Pakistan, throughout the series of Indian belligerence along the LoC, did not respond to these provocative statements but rather kept on making persuading statements impressing upon India to continue the dialogue process as the only way to avoid such incidents.
Why did India violate the ceasefire across the LoC at this time of the year? There are three plausible reasons that come to one's mind. One, it could have been a pre-election ploy to woo voters at the cost of Pakistan bashing and war mongering.
Two, it could be a deliberate effort on part of some groups to disrupt the relatively slow but sustained dialogue process between the two countries to bring peace and amity between the two countries. Three, it was done to justify the large presence of Indian Army personnel in Kashmir.
History is beset with incidents of war mongering leading to winning presidential or parliamentary elections. To cite a couple of incidents, Margaret Thatcher utilised the Falklands victory to win her second term by a very large margin. Similarly, when George W Bush narrowly won the presidency upon fateful counting of Florida polls in 2000, he went to war over terror. He also won his second term as president of the United States in 2004 with 53.5 percent of the electoral votes against his rival. There are also so many other examples where the sitting governments exploited existing conflicts within and outside their borders to retain their power.
India may have taken a lead from such past incidents. With fresh parliamentary elections around the corner, the Indian hostility on the recent LoC incidents, therefore, may also be a step in that direction. The transition in India from conventional means of wooing voters in elections through rallies, posters, slogans and advertisements to exploitation of internal and external conflicts and war mongering has taken a shape of permanent phenomenon having its roots in India's last few elections where every time venom against Pakistan and its military establishment was used to woo voters.
The LoC incidents could have also been crafted out by some vested interests in India to thwart the dialogue process between the two countries that had shown signs of picking up the pace. The LoC tensions were deliberately staged with a complete political objective i.e. to create an outrage in India that will force the government to call off the back channel talks and force the government to take a hard line on Pakistan.
The repeated episodes of coercive belligerence stopping short of war every time have not benefitted India in any way. There is a golden opportunity waiting for the respective prime ministers' to meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting later this month to pick up the threads of a tattered composite dialogue once again. There is all the likelihood that when these two prime ministers do meet on 26th or the next day in New York, we may see escalation of tensions along the LoC once more or an outrage in India over the meeting. Will Manmohan use the opportunity to strategise future talks with his Pakistani counterpart in the election year? We have to wait and see if the proposed meeting means business or turns out to be another photo session which we are so accustomed to seeing.
Another dimension to the LoC incidents could be the Indian military establishment's move to justify the Indian Army's large presence in Kashmir. This justification could only be done if the situation at the LoC is kept destabilised in the name of ceasefire violations or cross border infiltrations. Moreover, if the LoC is left in peace then there will be no moral justification for the Indian Army to turn down demands of the Kashmiri people and rescind the special powers enjoyed by the army in Kashmir.
In the aftermath of recent ceasefire violations, Indian protesters burnt Pakistan's flag in nearly all the major cities of India, friendship bus en-route to Lahore was stopped in India and some arsonists tried to storm Pakistan's high commission in New Delhi. The sustained calls by the new Pakistan government seeking peace and amity with India have fallen on deaf ears in India. By failing to heed the peace calls, India is abdicating its responsibility and creating more divergence in bilateral relationship with Pakistan. One thing the Indian side must realise is that the Kashmir issue has to be resolved as per UN resolutions, one day. It can be put on the backburner but it cannot be defended as per Indian intransigence perpetually.
Despite the odds, Pakistan is doing well in persevering for a sustained dialogue with India in the hope that India will take a dialogue discourse to sincerely resolve all outstanding issues between the two countries. There is no other way. Let us give peace a chance.