Bilateral

LoC violence

Jul 19, 2017
A PATTERN of violence can be dangerous because one or the other side may be encouraged to escalate. A spike in violence over the weekend along the Line of Control continued into the new week with further incidents on Monday. A familiar set of accusations and recriminations have been traded, but the casualties on the Pakistani side suggests a disproportionate escalation in violence by India. That appears to have been confirmed by the reactivation of the DGMO hotline between the Pakistani and Indian sides. The Pakistani DGMO Maj Gen Sahir Mirza has, according to the ISPR, warned his Indian counterpart that Pakistan could consider ‘choking’ the Indian security forces’ supply lines across the LoC. The unusual Pakistani warning is likely an attempt to signal to India that it has drifted perilously close to red lines in the range of violence that has become a worrying norm along the LoC this year. The Pakistani DGMO stressed that immediate actions need to be taken if a major escalation is to be avoided.
 
The warning may have a short-term effect, but the security trajectory along the LoC is a major cause of concern. With India-held Kashmir firmly in a cycle of protest and repression, the Indian government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is looking to blame external factors for the unrest and has firmly backed the Indian security forces in IHK, which have been in an aggressive mode both inside the occupied territory and along the LoC. Now, with Pakistan firmly in the throes of another political crisis, the Indian side could consider escalation at a time the leadership here has to contend with domestic issues. The sensible approach would be for high-level political and diplomatic contact between the two countries. It is apparent that the overall poor state of the bilateral relationship has allowed security problems to fester. A bold political statement between the two countries could go some way towards ending the recent cycle of violence and help put the two sides back on the path to dialogue.
 
But is that realistic? Perhaps not without third-country encouragement at the moment. The two obvious possibilities — the US and China — are mired in their own problems. China-India tensions have also spiked in recent days, suggesting that the already limited influence China may have had when it comes to encouraging Pakistan and India to engage in dialogue has been further reduced. Meanwhile, the US will soon unveil its new strategy in Afghanistan. Dubbed a South Asia strategy, the focus appears to be on the Afghanistan-Pakistan region and the tentative signals are that it will involve applying greater pressure on Pakistan. That may cause Pakistan to baulk and increase suspicions of US intentions. Ultimately, the Pakistan-India conundrum will have to be addressed by the two countries themselves. Dialogue is the only path that the two sides ought to consider.

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