Intro: On the face it seems that there is no conceivable political, military, religious, social benefit accruing to Pakistan from this firing, but a deeper study points towards a well laid out agenda.
The incessant firing along the international border over a sustained period of time is defying logic. Experts are at their wits end to understand the reason behind this extraordinary belligerence being exhibited by Pakistan and that too at a time when it is going through a very serious internal security crisis.
Even more unfortunate is the complete breakdown of the peace process initiated by a leader of the stature of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee and painstakingly nurtured over many years by his successor Dr Manmohan Singh. The first action by Shri Narendra Modi, even before being sworn-in as Prime Minister of India, was to root for the peace process. He demonstrated his good faith by inviting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for his swearing-in ceremony and extending to him exemplary courtesy and honour. Narendra Modi walked the extra mile for the second time during the SAARC summit in Kathmandu when he moved forward to shake hands with Nawaz Sharif despite the tension between the two countries.
India was quick to condemn the horrific massacre of innocent school children and others in the terrorist attack on the Army School in Peshawar, Pakistan. This was a spontaneous reaction that came from the heart of the Nation.
Despite all this, there has been no respite in the firing by Pakistani troops along the international border and Line of Control (LoC). The pattern is quite discernible. Pakistan initiates the fire fight; when India retaliates in defence it makes a big noise. “We will now communicate with India in the language they understand,” are the chilling words used by Khawaja Asif, Defence Minister of Pakistan while speaking on the subject.
While the Pakistani leaders play out their grandiose games, the life of the poor people living on both sides of the border has become a virtual hell. The mainstay of the villagers is agriculture; firing and such turmoil causes’ damage to crops and to livestock, men cannot go out to tend to their fields, children cannot go to school, and the old and the sick do not get adequate aid. Shelling from Pakistan’s side is forcing people out of their houses into refugee camps for no fault of theirs. Life for them has come to a standstill.
Pakistan is quite worried about the manner in which the world is responding to the “Make in India” call of Prime Minister Narendra Modi; of particular concern to the country are the steps being taken to increase indigenous defence production with foreign collaboration. Pakistan would like to give the investors a feeling that India has security issues which make her an unstable destination for investment, especially for the capital intensive defence industry. Keeping the border heated up is a practical and cost effective means for achieving this objective.
The US is cooling off its strategic relationship with Pakistan as its forces have withdrawn their troops from Afghanistan; as a result, Pakistan is getting desperate for military hardware. The only option left for Pakistan is to prove to the Islamic world that it’s very existence in under threat from India and thus get financial aid to build its military capacity. Keeping hostility along the frontier alive provides the best means to achieve both ends.
The hung assembly verdict in the assembly elections of Jammu and Kashmir and emergence of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as an indispensible political force is a huge setback for Pakistan’s Kashmir agenda. The country will do everything in its power to ensure that the BJP stays out of the government and the best way to do so is to scuttle the dialogue between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the BJP. With this incessant firing Pakistan has ensured that the Indian government finds it difficult to move on the issue of revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) as is being demanded by the PDP for construction of a coalition with the BJP. Once again a big political advantage is being accrued at a low cost.
It is quite evident that there is a method behind the madness that is being played out on the frontier. The high voltage emotions that Pakistan is successfully generating in India through the media are to its advantage. It is time for India to understand the game plan and respond in an appropriate manner.
Jaibans Singh (The writer is an analyst with expertise on J&K affairs)