The ceasefire violations emanating from the Pakistani side of the Line of Control seem to have escalated beyond control, with exchange of fire taking place in the Kargil and Drass sectors of Jammu and Kashmir, first time since the Pervez Musharraf-driven 1999 war, adding fuel to the raging blaze of Indian discontent. The tortured valley has been once again plunged into extremes of unrest, with cross-border terrorism and tensions sponsored by Pakistani Army wreaking havoc with the lives of the people of the state.
Firing in Poonch and the riotous atmosphere in Kishtwar have continued, and perhaps the eleventh instance of transgression in one week from the Pakistani side should be the necessary trigger for the Manmohan Singh government to step up its gas, especially because the latest instance of violence comes just a day after the prime minister’s Independence Day speech, in which he had warned Pakistan of dire consequences in case of continuing violence. While the last two weeks have seen what the Indian Army describes as the ‘biggest ceasefire violation’ in recent months, the intentions behind Pakistan’s latest offensive need to be firmly established. Of course, it is known fact that our western neighbour prefers sending in as many infiltrators as possible before the Himalayan mountain passes close for the winters, and the LoC skirmishes are usually used as covers for these infiltration attempts. However, we need to dig deeper into the mindset that encourages such tactics and whether the Pakistani government is playing any role in perpetuating what has been the con job of a military way out of control.
Firstly, it is important to find out whether ISI, Pakistan’s internationally networked external intelligence cum espionage agency, is working alone or in collusion with other local or global forces to engineer a full-scale escalation of cross-border tension and attack on Indian posts. The incidents of last two weeks point towards a possible economic reason beneath the hiked unrest and the diplomatic spat is being paraded as an excuse to derail the scheduled meeting of the two prime ministers to be held next month. It is true that the respective governments of the two oft-belligerent and nuclear armed nations have tried normalising relations by emphasising trade and commerce, and Pakistan has been mulling over granting ‘most favoured nation’ status to India.
However, the peace express has been brought to a grinding halt and the larger and more tenacious issues such Kashmir and border disputes given an even more difficult spin, in the wake of the latest rounds of exchange of gun fire, mortars and rockets across the LoC. Intriguingly, the escalated violence comes barely a month after the announcement that Pakistan will import electricity from India in order to plug the gaping holes in its power generation sector. The sudden killings and flare-up clearly put the fresh endeavours at risk and imperil the efforts of the two governments to enter rounds of negotiation on other, more stubbornly complex matters.
It is, therefore, crucial to unearth if the mutual peace initiatives hamper financial interests of other parties, who stand to gain from the current Indo-Pak standoff. It is obvious that a disruption in the peace process between the two subcontinental powers and culturally symbiotic nations would be of advantage to Pakistan’s other prominent trading partners, which might experience some shrinkage in the wake of better ties between the traditional enemies.