Ceasefire violations

Kashmir Times. Dated: 1/10/2019 12:02:43 PM

Triple fold increase in border hostilities shows the flaws of following a muscular policy, dialogue must be resumed

The three-fold increase in the ceasefire violations along the International Border and the Line of Control in 2018 in Jammu and Kashmir alone, claiming 61 lives and leaving 250 injured, is a grim reminder of the failed muscular strategy that the government is trying to pursue with respect to its largest neighbour Pakistan. With 2936 incidents of ceasefire violations, the truce agreement struck by the two sides in 2003 has become virtually redundant. The statistics were given by Indian officials and it is anybody's guess that the casualties would be of an equal scale on the other side of the borders as well. The figures only give an indication of the physical casualties suffered by soldiers and border villagers, and do not reflect on the massive upheaval they cause to the lives of lakhs of people living on the borders. Their houses are damaged in shelling, their livestock is lost, their livelihoods are shattered as constant shelling limits their access to their agricultural fields in largely agrarian areas and many of them are subject to repeated displacements with no adequate policy of relief and rehabilitation. The plight of these people reeling under day to day shelling is difficult to imagine with a simple number of 2936 incidents of ceasefire violations, even though the number itself is shocking. It is three times the ceasefire violations witnessed in 2017, up from 900 plus and the number of casualties suffered have also almost doubled. Both sides blame each other for the ceasefire violations despite assurances to each other during flag meetings and commander level meetings. Unfortunately, while these military level meetings are not regular, they are not followed up with the seriousness. In the absence of a political truce holding out, there is complete failure in making the process structural and more methodical. Both sides are responsible. While the bellicose rhetoric from New Delhi and army top brass has matched the hostility at the borders, the peace overtures made by the Pakistan prime minister are completely inconsistent with the situation, revealing the gap between spoken words and actions.
The Indian government has so far refused to reciprocate to the peace overtures of the Pakistan premier, reasoning that Pakistan is responsible for cross-border terror and violations on the borders. If the Indian assertion be held as an absolute truth, even then there is no justification to wriggle out of the proposition of dialogue and negotiations because that is the only known method of resolving disputes in a civilized world. Since 2016 surgical strikes, the Modi-led government in India has been engaged in a lot of chest thumping, labouring hard to maintain that the strikes were aimed at putting an end to the repeated offensives by Pakistan and its trouble-making. However, the glaring statistics itself are a reflection of the abject failure of surgical strikes or any low-key war as a tool for ending hostile climate between the two countries and cross-border shelling that has seen a phenomenal increase in the last four and a half years. The only way that peace can be ensured between India and Pakistan is by taking the road of dialogue, negotiations and conciliation. The best dividends of peace in the sub-continent were yielded when a composite dialogue was in place at the beginning of the millenium and held out for a few years. A continuation of the peace process alone could have delivered lasting and enduring peace. The process of peace was snapped mid-way because of lack of commitment and seriousness on behalf of New Delhi and Islamabad. That process needs to be restored and carried to its logical conclusion with the conscious understanding that peace processes are not short processes but long drawn ones and needed to be guided and nurtured by maturity, patience and commitment.



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