The mindless LoC killings

A life lost is a life lost, Indian, Pakistani or Kashmiri

Statecraft

HAPPYMON JACOB

The tit-for-tat barbarian killings of the Indian and Pakistani soldiers by each other along the LoC and the passions running high on each side spearheaded by the ultranationalist media is straight out of a medieval military mindset. Not only has the media on both sides been asking for more and more blood to trump up their TRP ratings, but a prominent Indian news channel, absurdly, also argued it was OK for the Pakistani army to kill Indian soldiers: “Retaliation OK, but mutilation unacceptable”!
The ongoing Indo-Pak killing spree is unfortunate and will undoubtedly be a major set back for the India-Pakistan peace process. But before we get to that, let us look at the barebones account of what happened/is happening.

Facts and Fiction
There seems to be a great deal of misunderstanding among the general public that this is the first ceasefire violation that is happening along the LoC. That is inaccurate as every year tens of such violations take place. Indeed, in 2011 alone there were around 120 ceasefire violations. The fact is that these violations take place quite regularly, and sometimes even lives are lost. Secondly, media on both sides of the divide seem to project that only soldiers belonging to their respective side have lost lives. Again, as we know both Indian and Pakistani soldiers have lost their lives as well as villagers in Kashmir, and that is unfortunate: a life lost is a life lost, Indian, Pakistani or Kashmiri. The third fact to consider is that soldiers, all over the world, when seeking revenge for the killing of their colleagues, do engage in the torture of enemy soldiers. While it is the Pakistani side that has engaged in this barbaric act this time (in retaliation to the killing of one of their soldiers by the Indian side), let us not fool ourselves in thinking that the Indian side has never engaged in such acts. The Pakistani media has often carried stories of Indian brutalities.

Is there a Pakistani strategy behind all this?
An important question to be asked at this point is whether the Pakistani side has any clever strategy behind the present ceasefire violation that has led to this crisis? Frankly, I don’t think so. I can’t see any political, diplomatic or military benefit that Islamabad or Rawalpindi can get out of this. Was it a strategy to put pressure on the Indian side to resolve the Kashmir conflict? Unlikely, as Pakistan knows by now that such a strategy would never lead to the resolution of Kashmir. Was it a repeat of Kargil type stealth strategy wherein Pakistan was trying to sneak its soldiers into the Indian territory and then fight to retain it? Such a scenario is also unlikely as lessons from Kargil have convinced Pakistan that such a strategy would not work.
Or is it the Pakistan Army’s way of showing its displeasure with the ongoing peace process between New Delhi and the civilian establishment in Islamabad and thereby indicating that it wants the peace process to be suspended? Again, this to me does not seem to be the logic since Pak army has recently been making noises about the need to confront the internal ghosts rather than worrying about India. More importantly, a charitable explanation would suggest that letting the peace process go on would give the Pak army the necessary time to focus on the internal problems, recuperate and then focus on India, if need be, when the internal issues are settled. But the fact is that its internal problems are far from over. Indeed, they are constantly increasing.
If anything, this event will frustrate Pakistan’s ‘normalisation’ process and its much-needed focus on domestic issues. The peace process is in Pakistan’s interest as much as it is in India’s interest. Hence, Pakistan will stand to lose from this crisis as much as India would.
What about the return of Tahir-ul-Qadri who has been challenging the Pakistani establishment since his return from Canada? Has his return to Pakistan, the wide publicity he is receiving and the fear that he may, at this rate, influence the outcome of this year’s elections in Pakistan prompted Pakistani establishment to engage in a classic diversionary tactic? Again, I don’t think that is the case purely because the sequence of events does not suggest that. Qadri returned to Pakistan on the 23rd of December and the roots of this crisis predate that.

Implications
What are the long-term implications of this crisis? Clearly, the ongoing crisis has shown how fragile the Indo-Pak dialogue peace process is. If this kind of an incident has the potential to deeply frustrate the Indo-Pak dialogue, what would be the result of a repeat of Mumbai? Secondly, the many CBMs between the two sides are likely to be stalled. Pakistan has already suspended the Srinagar-Muzzaffarabad bus. The cross-LoC trade between India and Pakistan in Kashmir is put on hold due to the crisis and the traders are losing huge amounts of their investments. Finally, this crisis shows the how much each side distrusts the other.
What is ironical is that while India does not trust any inquiry conducted by Pakistan into the mutilation of the bodies of the Indian soldiers, it also does not accept any international inquiry since it does not want to internationalise the issue. And what is unfortunate is the manner in which Pakistan goes about denying that its soldiers have actually crossed into India and did what it did. It’s perhaps time to think of innovative ways of resolving the crisis.

Lastupdate on : Sat, 12 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 12 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 13 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST




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