UN-LoC Axis

HAMLETS AND villages along the LoC have again been put in the path of peril by the militaries of India and Pakistan whose exchanges of fire over the dividing line in Kashmir have grown markedly frequent in recent weeks.The latest clash occurred in the frontier town of Uri in North Kashmir, killing at least three civilians on this side. Ironically, Uri is also the staging post of the sub-continent’s most dramatic move in over sixty years of vitiated ties – it has the most highly-advertised crossing point for resumed travel services between the two parts of Kashmir, as also of the resurrected trade ties across the region. Both had been hailed internationally as a historic step to normalise relations between the two neighbours, heralding an era of deeper and more abiding peaceful existence. The exercise had come into being when a truce announced by New Delhi and Islamabad over their frontiers had held for several years barring isolated incidents of violation. Repeated breaks in the truce in recent weeks, reminiscent of the almost constant artillery bombardment of the past, cannot but spark off alarm, particularly in Kashmir, and massive bewilderment, for, the clashes follow exceptional flow of warmth across the borders with high-level bilateral visits and significant easing of travel restrictions between the two. Given the build-up in the subcontinent in recent months, the reversion to old customs of animosity is inexplicable.

Except for verbal clashes over Kashmir at the United Nations last week, there had been absolutely no sign of any renewed political tensions between New Delhi and Islamabad to warrant a fiery activation of the LoC. (The frontier had been heating up in the run-up to the UN session). But to be fair, the line has never required an excuse to flare up, as its periods of calm and turbulence have often turned out to be puzzling as well as paradoxical. Many would recall how the frontier was quiet even when the political leaderships of the two countries traded heated rhetoric and acrimony over developments of the violent kind not too long ago. But then the war of words, hitherto confined to sub-continental soil, was suddenly transplanted to far-off New York and the UN General Assembly where the duo reignited their old quarrel for the benefit of the entire world after having solemnly committed themselves to gradual unravelling of the long-standing issue. Could cross-LoC clashes have been calculated moves by any of the two to dissuade the world of a growing notion that good sense was finally beginning to prevail in the region? Where they meant to reinforce what the duels at the UN had aimed to convey? There, however, is a catch to the entire calculation – the crash and thunder of artillery does not carry across the Atlantic. It rebounds only in the tiny villages dotting the LoC on both sides, and leaves behind piles of mangled flesh and bone, the snuffed out lives of Kashmiris. Party or parties concerned should have learned from experience. No one has been moved by 20 years of death and destruction in the state. No one is likely to be impressed or concerned by heavy artillery exchanges even if they consume more Kashmiri lives.

As for the Kashmiris themselves, they have learnt to be resigned to their fate as the tail wags the dog, avowedly for their sake.


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