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Pak repeats past betrayals

Pakistan’s suave Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar has toned down her ridiculous charge that India is upping the ante on the Line of Control (LoC), albeit after reportedly being rapped on the knuckles by the US. Pak army’s head of military operations too has scaled down similar claims and agreed to maintain peace along the LoC. But some lies are still being adhered to by Pakistan’s civil government and military leadership by remaining in denial about the beheading of an Indian soldier, which was also denied in a flag meeting on the LoC. Anything close to tough talk by India’s political leadership following the heinous attack has been late and little.

The India – Pakistan ceasefire on the Line of Control (LoC) since 2003 was yet again violated and brutally this time on 8 January 2013, when Pakistan army troops of reportedly 29 Baloch Regiment, taking advantage of the dense fog, killed two Indian soldiers- Sudhakar Singh and Hemraj of 13 Rajputana Rifles - by slitting their throats and beheading one of them, while firing unprovoked on Indian posts in the Poonch/ Krishna Ghati sector. Pakistanis took away the head of one of the decapitated Indian soldiers.

Pakistan army’s attack came soon after India is reported to have told Pakistan ‘to ensure that the sanctity of LoC is upheld at all times’. In response, Pakistan Army ‘rejected allegations of the Indian army about the unprovoked firing by Pakistani troops at the Line of Control’ and on 8 January Pakistani army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani visiting Sialkot asked the army to remain ‘fully prepared to respond to the full spectrum of threats, direct or indirect, overt or covert’. Ever since the 1999 Kargil war waged by Pak army, the only attacks on it have been by the very terrorist outfits it raised, supported or befriended like the Al Qaeda.

Is it not strange that such a macabre act by Pakistan army comes at a time when peace talks are have been progressing, trade is supposed to take off and cricket is being played between the two countries? But both the cease fire violation and the brutality by misuse of bayonets is certainly neither surprising nor unprecedented and neither is the timing of Pak army initiating some or the other kind of ghastly act to derail a process of peace and reconciliation painstakingly achieved between the two countries.

On 9 June 1999 the mutilated body of Captain Saurabh Kalia taken prisoner during the Kargil War between India and Pakistan was returned to India. Twelve years later in December 2012, his father, Dr NK Kalia, 64, a retired senior scientist from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research took the government to court. He wants his son’s case to be raised at the International Court of Justice at The Hague. Unprofessional brutality by Pak army soldiers is not unusual at all as it has been resorted to in both the 1965 and 1971 India – Pakistan wars as well as by terrorists of outfits raised and supported by Pak army over the past two and a half decades.

India’s Ministry of Defence has issued a strong statement criticising this Poonch ceasefire violation and condemning the killing of the two Indian soldiers by Pakistani troops. Reportedly referring to the incident as an ‘unwholesome development’, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said that the government will make it clear to Pakistan that the action of its troops was absolutely unacceptable and it needed answers. While it remains to be seen what actions the government will take, the Northern Army Commander, Lt. Gen. K T Parnaik, who visited the spot is reported to have instructed the army to ‘stay alert and calm’ and declared that ‘appropriate action will be taken at the appropriate time’.

Following the 2003 ceasefire agreement, Indian Army erected a three-tier fence about 500 metres to two kilometres inside Indian territory along the LoC to prevent intrusion by Pakistani terrorists. However, this ceasefire has been violated by Pakistan army umpteen times, mostly while attempting to induct terrorists.

In June 2012 Pak army violated the cease fire by unprovoked firing four times from 11 June to 16 June, in the same Krishna Ghati sector, killing at least two and injuring some more. On 26 July 2012, a 400-metres long tunnel, running between India and Pakistan, along the International Border in Samba district of J&K-the second so far- was discovered.

 Interacting with this writer then, Lt Gen Parnaik had said: ‘Several infiltration attempts by militants to enter into Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) in the last six months have been foiled by our troops…..We have information about terrorists being trained by Pakistan and camped at launching pads with instructions into infiltrate into J&K to create trouble’. Lt Gen Om Prakash, who took over charge as GOC of the Srinagar headquartered Chinar Corps from Lt Gen Syed Atta Hasnain on 9 June 2012, reportedly gave an update of as many as 42 terrorist camps still being operational in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK).

While Pakistan seems to be keen in promoting ties with India through the process of dialogue and cultural –sports events aimed at reducing trust deficit, Islamabad’s agencies, including the Army and the ISI continue to sustain conflict and aid to militants. This is one of the reasons for India to take measured steps while engaging Pakistan in the process of dialogue.

Anil Bhat is a defence and strategic analyst

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