Troubled border !


The past few days have witnessed a resurgence of the cross-LoC firing along the International Border and the Line of Control in Jammu. Line of Control has been active again. And this has once again underlined the inherent fragility of the relationship between India and Pakistan. The frequent LoC violations which India blames squarely on Pakistan have been one of the most intense. Around 1200 persons have left their homes by now and the authorities have set up 30 camps for the displaced people. Around 120 officers have been deputed by the administration to provide all facilities to the people living in these camps. And as many as 42 villages along the LoC have been caught in the firing exchange, causing a great suffering to a large number of population on both sides of the divide. The trend of LoC violations has picked up since last year. According to government figures, LoC was violated 268 times in 2016 with a maximum of 88 violations being witnessed in November 2016 followed by 78 in October 2016. Nine persons were killed in these incidents. Though J&K Government had in 2015 submitted a proposal to the Centre for setting up of over 20,000 bunkers at a cost of over Rs. 1,000 crore in 448 border areas in the state, New Delhi has yet to act on it. However, that is hardly the solution for the trouble along the border.

The escalating trend of these violent border exchanges is yet another proof that the 2003 ceasefire agreement which held strong for close to a decade is now forgotten.  The calm borders had become an important factor in the normalization of the relations between the two countries, enabling New Delhi and Islamabad to start  one of the most promising dialogue processes through 2003-2007 which by accounts of the top leaders of the two countries  who were at the helm of it was close to a breakthrough on Kashmir. But with return of the border eruptions with a vengeance, the situation is threatening to go back to square one. And if left unattended, the situation is likely to deteriorate and possibly lead to dangerous consequences. Hence the need for the two countries to reach out to each other and pull the situation back from the brink. With dialogue already suspended and tensions rising high,  India and Pakistan can ill-afford to let the border skirmishes go on unchecked and escalate into a major conflict.

The problem is that India’s Pakistan policy is now dictated by some jingoistic sections of media and their loud mouth and out of depth retired civil and military commentariat, with government preferring to play to the public opinion shaped by them. Although it already seems quite late in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his last two years in power will certainly contribute to the peace by instituting a meaningful dialogue process with Pakistan that looks to the larger process of settlement of long running issues rather than gets bogged down  by the electoral politics of day and the machinations of a section of television media out to make a TRP kill on continuing bilateral acrimony.





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