The politics of belligerence

Greater Kashmir

India and Pakistan have to shun the aggressive attitude so that borders are calmed

Amid controversy over the interception of “Terror boat” in Arabian sea, the exchange of fire on border or tough posturing might be a sport for politicians or a tool for raising “Nationalistic” sentiments but it has already rendered many families homeless. ‘People to experts’ keep wondering about the credibility of spiral of clashes mostly unfolding on the TV channels. Though, media gives you no chance to find out the truth as they hurry to feed you with their “managed Nationalistic perception”, yet, it has always been a dangerous adventure for any independent journalist to venture into the territory, more dangerous than the border itself.
How unsettling for the US President whose visit to India brings misery to millions of people. Red alert to security raids to surveillance to road blocks to border escalation becomes “managed” nightmare and frets people whose anticipation of something “nasty” is going to happen often comes true every time some dignitary has to visit Sub-continent. Mutual hostilities guide guests to take side of the host country.
Had there been no “Kashmir dispute”, would it still happen on the eve of visit of US President or other foreign guests to Sub-continent? And, would Kashmir has to be the ‘altar of sacrifice’ for arch rivals?….these questions need serious thinking so that those poor souls are being given little comfort who harbour feelings of becoming sacrificial goats for military adventurism. On the one hand, the US involvement in ‘Afghanistan to Iraq’ or nine eleven attack has reduced “Kashmir dispute to non-entity”, and at the same time it becomes the “conflict of interest” for strategic bargaining against commercial expansion among the stakeholders. 
 What India or Pakistan has to gain to initiate firing at present?  India claims it a ploy to infiltrate militants into Indian side of Kashmir, the theory, India succeeded in the past in convincing the International community after its diplomatic lobbying. Although, the latest border clash or boat interception claim has, at the moment, only few takers, courtesy to the U-turn policy of Pakistan Army after deadly attack on children in Peshawar.  The logic put forward is that the terror-ridden country  can hardly afford to take risk of fighting with India when its army has been engaged in FATA and other troubled tribal belt adjoining Afghanistan. “Army’s strong resolve to eliminate Anti-Pakistan militants inside and outside the country has made India little bit jittery because Pakistan has to eliminate those groups first (mostly remnants of Lal mosque attack who flew to Afghanistan), considered to be working at the behest of  Indian agencies”. Says former Pak diplomat, Munir Akram.
To the dismay of India, US/Afghan-Pak co-operation has become re-rejuvenated since Raheel Sharief set the new target for Army operation. His “policy of elimination of terror outfits” has restored not only the confidence among his countrymen, it has also build trust of stakeholders in the region, thus agreeing to give direct access into the strongholds of Taliban in remote Afghanistan. Pakistan believes India’s engagement with Taliban remnants through its consulates in Afghanistan has a sole aim of denting Pak/China economic relations that has reached to new heights after the construction of Highways in Northern peaks,  bringing  both countries close to each other.
Pakistan has a lot on plate. The daring suicide attacks by Taliban on ‘civilian to its strategic installations’ have unnerved the country. Those who were its “strategic assets” have become dreadful enemies. Taliban cared, fed and nurtured  have become unleashed atom bombs, killing anybody whosoever comes in their way. According to defence analyst in FATA, “Pakistan was blamed for nurturing militants, now its rivals are paying them huge amount to attack Pakistan assets. The circumstantial evidence refutes the claim that Pakistan would be looking for any other adventure with India at a time when it has become embroiled in internal strife”. Also, the claim cannot be substantiated on the premise of infiltrating few militants under the cover of firing. Pakistan has done it without firing in the past. The infiltration becomes difficult in winter as many routes become inaccessible until March.  Another stark reality has dawned on Pakistan that local population in Kashmir could hardly dare to provide shelter to militants at a time when the valley is going through the worst nightmare of having BJP at the threshold of achieving power that could result in losing its “Muslim character” after recent elections.  So sending militants in oblivion will hardly suit Pakistan interest.
What some Think Tanks suggest that India might be planning to attack “Azad Kashmir”, following the route Israeli took when it pounced Gaza with tacit support of some powerful countries.
The fractured mandate in the state of Jammu and Kashmir has made the International community wary about the situation born out of the democracy, though, feel compelled to support India in return for its commercial ventures. The skirmishes at border might be intended to divert the attention of political pundits who keep counting the days of more rebellions in future in the troubled valley. 
European democracies took long time to understand the Pakistan’s strategic assets, but it took no time in assessing the India’s political manoeuvring, the policy, with which the democratic powers are grappling now. Military posturing, Ghar Wapsi or intimidation of minorities  has further created mistrust against Modi government whose mantra of “Vikas for all” has got over-shadowed.  
 Pakistan has totally given up on Kashmir is far from reality. It seems they have prioritised the “areas of interest”. FATA or tribal belt has become the initial target of Zarb-i-Azb,  the operation might or might not get expanded to South Punjab. However, the country cannot afford to waste all its strategic assets, it might prefer to keep good Taliban for future ventures.
And, it can never be accepted that Pakistan army will follow its political leadership so far as Kashmir is concerned, it will remain its “area of interest” even if it has to fight this war without the backing of political leadership or without the support of Kashmir. Only time is not on Pakistan side.
So, the political viciousness of both the countries has never disappeared nor have they left Kashmir to sort out its own issues. What has become evident is that India is looking for fast track to complete “unfinished” Kashmir whereas Pakistan has taken a step back until it sorts out Taliban. Till then, the border will remain under the grip of intermittent firing. 

(The writer has worked as Editor of news/current affairs in BBC London)