PAKISTAN has done the right thing by approaching the UN to ask India to provide proof, if any, of its incessant propaganda about ‘terror launch pads’ on this country’s soil. After all, the UN already has a military observer group — UNMOGIP — to monitor the situation in the area, and it would not be too difficult for a neutral third party to evaluate the facts on the ground, should India be interested in determining the facts, that is.
Unfortunately, New Delhi has been using the ruse of ‘terror launch pads’ to step up LoC violations, with deadly results. According to the Foreign Office, there have been close to 940 LoC violations this year alone, most of which have targeted populated areas. A number of civilians in AJK have lost their lives since the start of the year due to India’s belligerence.
India has been whipping up a frenzy over alleged infiltration from Pakistan, with its civil and military leaders both using the ‘launch pads’ mantra to justify LoC violations. In such a scenario, a fact-finding probe overseen by the UN can help clear the air, as bilateral efforts have up till now not yielded much.
Moreover, in the current situation, it is imperative that both states assume a less threatening and more cooperative posture, as the Covid-19 pandemic knows no borders. The energies — financial, military and political — of both Pakistan and India at this point in time should be focused on battling the coronavirus, a common foe.
If India keeps on beating the drums of war and violating the LoC, Pakistan will respond as this country’s civil and military leaders have made clear. Such a scenario is sure to take away governmental focus from the pandemic.
It can only be described as a small mercy that up till now the death toll in both countries has been minimal compared to the horrific body counts coming out of Europe and the US. It should be remembered that far more advanced health systems in the West have been stretched to the limit due to Covid-19. If the contagion spreads further in South Asia and both governments are busy trading fire instead of fighting the pandemic, health systems in Pakistan, as well as India, may well collapse.
To avoid such a nightmare scenario, sabre-rattling must be eschewed, and India must pursue the path of dialogue instead of hurling unsubstantiated allegations.
Published in Dawn, May 5th, 2020