Continued ceasefire violations by Pakistan forces along the Line of Control and more-so along the international border in the Jammu region of the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) are attaining a critical dimension. This belligerence being exhibited by Pakistan over the last few months and consistently over the last ten days or so could have escalated into an open conflict if the Government of India had not shown an exceptional degree of restraint and maturity in the face of grave provocation.
The situation is quite peculiar, the Kashmir valley that has traditionally been a hot bed of such violations has not seen mush action as has been confirmed by the commander of the Srinagar based Chinar Corps. On the other hand, the Jammu region that normally remains dormant has seen intensive firing with high calibre guns. The entire 198 km stretch of the international border in Jammu has been activated by Pakistan Rangers. Heavy shelling has been witnessed in all forward areas to include Hiranager, Samba, Ramgarh, RS Pura, Kanachak and Pargwal sectors. This has led to death of civilians, intensive damage to property including death of livestock and migration of thousands of people from their home and hearth.
The reason behind this belligerence is not hard to find. This is out and out posturing by the Pakistan Army to send out two messages. The first is to its political leadership that it should not even try to initiate talks with India without explicit approval of the military masters. The second is to India that there is no point in talking to the Government of Pakistan since it is not in a position to deliver on promises made as a part of peace overtures.
The Pakistan forces are aware that Indian retaliation in the Sialkot Sector would rattle Nawaz Sharif and his government more than it would in Pakistan occupied Jammu & Kashmir (PoK) and Gilgit-Baltistan. Hence, it has chosen the Jammu region as the firm base for this activity.
The foundation for this diabolic game plan was laid when Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif faced considerable embarrassment for his unfortunate address to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). He created a fair degree of antipathy by adopting a monotonous oft repeated stand on Kashmir. He described the breakdown in talks between foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan as a “missed opportunity” and went on to parrot the tried and tested formula on Kashmir–right of self determination, unfilled promise of holding plebiscite etc. He did so knowing full well that nothing would come out of it. He felt no compunction in wasting the time of the august body and the world leaders present there. The international media did not have a single good word to say for the same.
It is common knowledge that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is a master in skirting political issues; he would never be so blunt! It is, therefore, quite obvious that his speech was also scripted to the last coma by the Pakistan Army as a part of its overall gameplan. After having delivered his address he hurried back home to see if his masters were satisfied with his performance and willing to give him and his government the much needed lease of life.
At the UNGA, Prime Minister Narendra Modi disappointed all those looking out for a huge drama in the wake of the statement made by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. He chose to brush aside the topic rather disdainfully. “Raising it at the UN won’t resolve bilateral issues,” was his caustic remark. Thereafter, he did not refer to the matter at all throughout his stay in the US. India did not even exercise her right to reply option thus making it very clear that it remain unaffected by the reference made by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
A riposte from Pakistan to the statement made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi came from the terror monger and most wanted international criminal, Hafiz Saeed, who seems to have taken over as ex-officio foreign minister of the country so far as India is concerned. “India is herself responsible for instability in the region, while perpetual peace cannot be achieved until Kashmir issue is resolved. We appreciate Nawaz Sharif’s straight forward commendable statement on Kashmir at UNGA. It represents national aspirations in verbatim,” Hafiz Saeed is reported to have said.
It is the brush-off in the UNGA that has motivated the “needling” that the Pakistan Army is now indulging in by “heating up” the international border and the Line of Control; a typical reaction of a military establishment.
As things stand now, it is quite apparent that the positivity generated at the time of the swearing-in of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was quite misplaced and it is “dirty business as usual” on the Kashmir front so far as Pakistan is concerned.
The bottom line is that the Pakistan’s Kashmir policy has been wholly and irrevocably wrested from the Nawaz Sharif led government by the Pakistan Army and its Jihadi partners. It stands to logic, therefore, that India will have to contend with continued ceasefire violations, infiltration attempts and terrorist activities in the hinterland in J&K. There is also no doubt left that the infamous Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) will continue using its assets in Kashmir to spread discontent and engineer social disruption.
The unfortunate writing on the wall is that Pakistan is continuing with these activities regardless of the humanitarian crisis on both sides of the Line of Control due to the unprecedented floods and inundation. The architects of terror have no love lost for the common man in Kashmir and are not guided by such compassionate considerations. No situation, however bad, can stop them from their malevolent designs directed towards J&K.
It would be beneficial for India to adopt a dynamic two pronged policy to deal with the emerging situation. The first prong should make spread of terror too costly for the adversary. The second prong should concentrate on increasing awareness levels about the actual situation in J&K. A welcome sign of the changed scenario is that India is not taking the Pakistani hostility lying down. The Indian forces have been given a free hand to counter the shelling and as reports go Pakistan is being subject to heavy counter-shelling. A loud and clear message is being sent out that Pakistan will be punished for intransigence.
Indian response to the situation being created by inimical forces in Pakistan is righteous and justifiable. It is also adequately nuanced and calibrated to indicate the escalation has not come by from the Indian side. It is an active response to grave provocation. The response could not have been better.
Jaibans Singh (The writer is Editor www.defenceinfo.com)