If you are out on a world trip just to see the most controversial and volatile strip of land that divides two countries, look no further than India and Pakistan, two sworn enemies living on both sides of the border which is more commonly known as the Line of Control or the LoC. For years, the border has seen its fair share of cross-fire with soldiers on both sides getting a little worried when there is relative calm around the tempest that is the LoC.
However, the major chunk of the consequences is born by civilians on both sides. In recent months, things alongside the border have taken a turn for the first with both Pakistan and India blaming one another for breaking the ceasefire every now and then. However, in recent memory, it is clearly India’s rigid and hardline posture that has resulted in casualties on both sides of the border.
The border issue can be traced back to the main point of conflict between these two states – Kashmir. Since gaining independence from the British Empire some seven decades ago, the two have fought three bloody wars and one Skirmish in the dying embers of the 20th century and Kashmir was always the main tool behind all those wars.
Cross border firing with low intensity weaponry with a tinge of mortars has becoming a common theme, all in a day’s work for soldiers who guard the border with twitchy fingers waiting to pull the trigger at any moment’s notice.
The recent clashes alongside the border come following a brief period of optimism after the two states made an agreement in July’s Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit in Uf, Russia. In that agreement, National Security Advisors from both sites discussed the possibility of meeting in New Delhi in late August. However, talks never happened amid a row over Kashmir. Pakistan chose to refuse to accept conditions laid down by Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj who offered terms that were deemed quite offensive to even consider.
In a late-night statement, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, “The scheduled NSA-level talks cannot be held on the basis of the “preconditions” set by India. For its part, India said that Pakistani NSA Sartaj Aziz would not be able to meet Kashmiri separatist Hurriyat leaders during his visit, and would have to restrict the agenda to the issue of terrorism, as was agreed in Ufa.
Despite not being able to put their differences aside, India for its part, chose to up the ante of aggression and continued the brutal firing and shelling across the working boundary and Line of Control area of Azad Kashmir on civilian population which in all honesty, is a very irresponsible act on the part of a state that considers itself a South Asian giant.
Indian actions and statements coming out of Delhi regarding the situation around the LoC and the hardline stance on Kashmir does not befit a state with such great ambitions.
The whole insecurity of India regarding the possibility of Pakistan sending terrorists through the border without a conclusive piece of evidence has also developed quite a funny outlook to it. Just a few months back, a pigeon was ‘apprehended’ by the Indian army on the suspicion of carrying a message to someone in India. Later on, it was found out that the pigeon was doing nothing but following the normal migratory routes that most of the birds follow. Such paranoia is not really going to take India anywhere and if it really wants to make Pakistan realize if it’s doing something wrong, its bureaucracy needs to become more rational and pragmatic rather than showing a rich brand of chauvinism.
A few weeks back, Pakistan’s DG Rangers met with the BSF in New Delhi. The summary of the meeting was that the Indian forces will not fire the first bullet along the border. This was the statement made by the Indian Home Minister, Rajnath Singh. However, one must wonder if the minister’s voice actually carries any sort of weight when it comes to policymaking because the very next day, Indian forces were at it again, firing bullets alongside the border which resulted in civilian casualties.
For months, India has been blaming Pakistan for harboring terrorists and sending them to the Indian side of the border. However, till this day, India has never been able to provide any conclusive evidence to back its bold claims. Pakistani security agencies on the other hand, have also blamed India for letting its secret agency, RAW, loose on the ground. Many believe that the recent militant activities aimed at destroying Pakistan’s global image have been funded by RAW.
However, without any conclusive proof, both sides cannot do much about it so it would be wise for both of them to shun such notions for a brief moment and actually sit on the table to discuss issues.
One has to say that Indian activities alongside the border are a cause of concern for Pakistan. Recent reports suggest that India is set to conduct some serious military exercises near the border which is not something that has been done before. This clearly shows that India wants Pakistan to have a peek at its military might which Pakistan believes would never be enough to take it out of the equation.
Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff, General Raheel Sharif visited the LoC to observe the situation alongside the border which clearly means that if India has something up their sleeves, Pakistan also has a plan. Militaries on both sides have been known to flex their muscles when needed but it appears that both sides have failed to really take any lessons from history.
For years, the two have been fighting and deploying coercive measures to further their respective agendas. However, such tactics have never worked out so how can the world expect it to be any different this time around?
Pakistan and India’s responsibility of being nuclear power
Being nuclear armed states, it is critical to understand that if push comes to shove, both sides might not hesitate to take the help of their abundant nuclear resources to inflict heavy damage to one another. This could trigger a series of events that will not be confined to just these two states. This is another reason why calm and serenity is the order of the day for both sides if they really want their issues to be solved.
India for its part, must mellow down over its stance on Kashmir and other issues while it is equally imperative for Pakistan to show some flexibility in its demands.
Quite recently, US Republican candidate, Donald Trump stated that if he was made the President of the United States, he will help Indian forces enter Pakistan if the country becomes unstable. Such statements, without any understanding of the many layers of India-Pakistan affairs are childish to say the least and do not go down well for someone who aims to lead a state that has so much interest in the region. Indeed, the international community, especially the decision makers have to adopt a very unbiased and pragmatic approach when it comes to issues between India and Pakistan. The issues between these two eternal foes may not be sorted in a fortnight but if both sides are pressurized by the vocal international audience to let go of their rigidness, a lot can achieved with the passage of time.