Editorial: Out of control at LoC

WEB DESK: India continues to intensify violence all along the Line of Control (LoC), increasing the danger of things spinning out of control. In the worst incident on Wednesday since the two countries signed a cease-fire agreement back in 2003, 10 civilian passengers of a bus were killed in the Neelum Valley and three soldiers also lost their lives while responding to Indian shelling, raising the number of civilian casualties during the last couple of months to 40 and for the army personnel to 12.

Reacting angrily to the bloody provocation, Pakistan’s Director General of Military Operations took to the hotline to tell his Indian counterpart “we reserve the right to respond at the place and time of our choosing.” This country would be wise to give a measured response to recurring provocations, which surely are not unintentional. There is a method to this madness.

Exchange of fire along the LoC and the Working Boundary is not something new but it is different this time in that whereas in the past it was always a localised affair and settled by local commanders, recurring violence since last September is part of a bigger, well thought-out plan. One obvious reason why the Modi government has chosen to escalate tensions along the LoC of course is to draw international attention away from its gross human rights violations in the Occupied Kashmir.

Then there are upcoming state elections in UP and Punjab where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is facing serious challenges from his rivals. And anti-Pakistan posturing sells extremely well in northern India. It is no coincident that earlier this month, Pakistan Navy detected an Indian submarine snorkelling near this country’s southern coast. The PN sensibly exercised restraint and pushed the sub out of Pakistani waters unharmed.

The timing of the intrusion suggests the purpose was to impress constituencies at home and also to show that country’s strategic partner, the US, that India is ready to advance Washington’s policy of containment of China. It is worthwhile to note that the submarine incident nearly coincided with a scheduled Pak-China naval exercise, which was aimed at ensuring maritime security as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) becomes functional.

More importantly, however, upping of the ante seems to spring from Indian far right’s long-standing and publicly stated desire to destabilise Pakistan, which may look achievable to them at this point when this country’s forces are engaged in different battle zones. As it is, the troops are stretched thin fighting against the Taliban in the tribal areas; Baloch militants backed by Indian intelligence agency, RAW, and Afghanistan’s NDS; and terrorist groups and target killers in Karachi.

The intensity and frequency of cease-fire violations is intended at tying down the soldiers on the eastern front so as to exhaust their capacity to take on other enemies of the state and society. Whatever the Modi government’s intentions in heightening tensions, any miscalculation on either side’s part can lead to unforeseen consequences. Islamabad needs to stay calm and raise the two issues of brutal repression in Occupied Kashmir and violence along the LoC and the WB at the relevant UN forums.

One hopes saner elements within India would also play their role to control their government’s aggressive behaviour.

Source: Business Recorder