Cease the fire

GKNN
Srinagar, Publish Date: Jan 21 2018 10:36PM | Updated Date: Jan 21 2018 10:36PM

Eleven persons have been killed in the three days of intense firing along the Line of Control (LoC) and International Border (IB) in five districts of Jammu, Kathua, Samba, Poonch and Rajouri. The dead include six civilians, three armymen and two BSF personnel. This is one of the largest losses of lives in just three days of firing. The latest escalation follows after India said it killed  seven Pakistani soldiers  in retaliatory action along the LoC. Pakistan, however, had confirmed the death of only four soldiers. Both countries accuse each other of starting the firing. India says it only responds to the Pakistani firing on the border and accuses the country of resorting to frequent ceasefire violations to push militants into the state. Pakistan, on the other hand, has lodged frequent protests over what it has called Indian aggression along the LoC. It has also summoned Indian envoy to lodge protest against India. But this has hardly made any difference to the state of affairs. The ceasefire violations have gone on regardless and led to killings on both the sides. We are in a weird tit for tat situation: one country kills the soldiers of the other country  and then another country does the same. The cycle goes on. Left unaddressed the killings will continue, more tragically of the hapless civilians on both the sides who are forced to leave their home and hearth to seek shelter elsewhere. One result of the frequent border firing has been the unraveling of the 2003 ceasefire agreement which had held strong for more than a decade. Given the abysmal state of the relationship between the two countries, the agreement is unlikely to be respected or replicated.  But the alternative is horrifying. It would be a perpetual cycle of conflict and bloodshed. While such a scenario serves well the hardline political parties in the two countries and the jingoistic sections of the society, soldiers and civilians will continue to die in the process. It's therefore incumbent on the leadership of the two countries to pull back from the brink and choose sustained engagement and dialogue over  pointless confrontation. Only such an approach can be hoped to bring peace and stability to the region.