By K.N. Pandita
For the past two months, there has been unprecedented tension and volatility along the Line of Control. It has extended to the International Border as well. There have been more than 170 ceasefire violations this year alone. Civilians and soldiers along the border and close to the LoC are living in perpetual shadow of a new tension, one that shows no signs of abating. This year we have seen a large number of attempts by the Jihadis to infiltrate into our side. This is despite our army and border security personnel inflicting heavy casualties on them. Undoubtedly there is a method behind this madness of Pakistan. Exacerbating tension along the LoC and IB with India can be explained variously.
Either internal crisis in Pakistan have deepened to the extent that the elected government and the actual conductors of Pakistan’s external affairs, namely the Army and ISI, can no more see eye to eye on critical issues or that the strength and reach of the jihadi legions have been bolstered by various factors including the covert patronage of the Army and ISI to the extent that they have established a government within a government. As we look at the hindsight, we find that the trio, meaning the Army, ISI and the jihadi organizations converge on the policy of provoking India beyond the limits of restraint. Political and social survival of this triumvirate depends on the level on which anti-India hysteria is unleashed. Therefore it is a moment of deep introspection for our policy planners to decide how to counter the menace without giving the adversary any ground of reinforcing its case.
One perception is that the Army Chief, who will be passing on the baton to his successor on 29th November, wants to leave behind a thorny legacy to his successor in the shape of perpetual tension with India. The suspicion that the elected government in Islamabad is in a mood of talking sense to India, and willing to adopt positive approach to bilateral issues, is eating into the vitals of the Army and its affiliate civilian jihadi legions. In the eyes of the triumvirate, resolving Kashmir tangle would mean total disaster to it because their survival depends on the perpetuation of tension, firing, infiltration, sabotage and subversion. Undoubtedly, it will be the effort of Mian Nawaz Sharif to pick the next Army Chief with utmost care, caution and statesmanship. He has once burned his fingers and he would not repeat the Himalayan blunder. It is true that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, showing large heartedness responded to the goodwill gesture of Mian Sahib in New York and met with him. Reports trickling down from reliable sources say that the PM Singh did not mince words and conveyed to Nawaz Sharif India’s displeasure and concern of escalating firing and infiltration along the LoC and the IB. We expected that Pakistani Prime Minister will take some urgent and serious steps to put an end to ceasefire violations. Restoration of normalcy along the ceasefire line and the IB would make atmosphere conducive for continuing bilateral talks. The goodwill gestures exhibited by the Pakistani Prime Minister fizzle out because we do not find any change in the ground situation. Not only that, firing, infiltration attempts and damaging civilian property and crops have increased beyond limits.
In the light of this situation, we do not find what should encourage our government to continue talks with Pakistan notwithstanding any amount of goodwill which her Prime Minster might demonstrate. The State government, very mindful of its responsibilities to the civil society, has ordered that the Contingency Plan already with the government be put in place. Essentially, the Plan will take care of the civilian population that shall have to be shifted from forward areas as these come within the range of firing by Pakistani Rangers and regulars. In other words, in the case of escalation of hostilities, we shall, in good advance, secure our defenseless civilian population at safer places and leave the field open to the army for action whenever or wherever deemed feasible.
It has to be noted that the two Prime Ministers had agreed during their NY talks that the Director General of Operations on both sides will meet and chalk out a work plan of restoring the sanctity of the ceasefire agreement of 2003 and put an end to the wanton firing along the LoC. But except for the fact the two DGOs are talking on telephone once a week, nothing concrete has been done on the ground to stop firing and shelling. Amusingly, Pakistani media has been whipping up passions of the people by publishing unfounded stories of Indian troops resorting to unprovoked firing and killing or injuring Pakistani soldiers. They tell their people nothing about Pakistani jihadis trespassing into Indian Territory and killing two India patrols while beheading one. They tell them nothing of jihadi attacks in Kathua and Samba police and army formations. They tell them nothing about Pak Army and jihadi joint incursion of Karen and firing all along the LoC and the IB at vulnerable points. That is why we say there is a method in their madness. Notwithstanding this, some official circles in the country tell us that efforts of continuing a dialogue are going on despite recurrent ceasefire violations. We are unable to understand what the facts are. Our civilians are being attacked, villages are shelled, crops are destroyed, and border posts are subjected to mortar fire. What more do we want them to do so that we will be galvanized into proper retaliatory action?