LoC violence

Published June 7, 2017

ANOTHER round of violence along the Line of Control and more accusations and recriminations between the DGMOs of Pakistan and India — the worrying pattern in the Kashmir dispute continues, casting a pall over the entire Pakistan-India relationship.

As ever, the facts in any given incident are difficult to establish though it is clear that the civilian populations along the LoC are the principal sufferers.

The problem with low-level skirmishes or exchange of fire over short durations across the LoC is the possibility of the violence spiralling out of control.

While communication channels such as the DGMO hotline are designed to prevent an escalation beyond a certain point, regular violence can create its own set of expectations on both sides — and lead to a disastrous miscalculation.

The possibility of the latter is higher when the senior leadership on both sides appears more interested in brinkmanship than defusing tensions. Indian military commanders are increasingly given to making provocative statements about war with Pakistan — a mindless threat given the military and nuclear realities of the region.

Hawkishness at the very top can filter down to the ranks and produce adventurism along the LoC, a situation that no responsible leadership anywhere should encourage or tolerate.

Indian denial, however, cannot change two basic realities of the Kashmir dispute.

First, there is a genuine and deep resistance to the policies of the Indian government in India-held Kashmir.

The current BJP-led government at the centre and the coalition set-up supported by the BJP in IHK appear unwilling to acknowledge that state policies towards the people of IHK have plunged the region into a crisis.

Right-minded and humane voices in India have called urgently for a change in direction of government policy and until Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and those aligned with his politics in IHK recognise the futility of the course currently being pursued, the crisis in IHK will not disappear.

Second, the rejection by Mr Modi of a condition-free, wide-ranging dialogue with Pakistan is a negation of the historical record.

By trying to remove the Kashmir dispute from a dialogue process altogether, New Delhi has only succeeded in underlining the centrality of the Kashmir dispute to the Pakistan-India relationship.

For Pakistan, the challenge remains the same: adhering to a principled insistence on settling all disputes via dialogue and using legitimate, diplomatic means to bring global attention to the violence in IHK.

Published in Dawn, June 7th, 2017

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