Expanding conflict on the border

For the first time in years India and Pakistan exchanged fire along the Line of Control in Uri, a development that signals  the expansion of the conflict between the neighbours. If not in Jammu, the 2003 ceasefire agreement has largely held in Kashmir Valley. But now with truce violations returning to Uri,  Kashmir is likely to once again become the hot zone. The worry is the likelihood of  the constant ceasefire violations escalating into a bigger conflict. Already, New Delhi has shown its willingness for a  limited conflict with Pakistan by embarking on 'surgical strikes' in 2016 following the killing of 19 soldiers by infiltrating militants in Uri. What's more, the political and the military leadership has often talked of continuing with cross-border raids. And this is here that the danger lies.

In the event of a future such raid, Pakistan can choose to retaliate which can lead to a wider conflict with every possibility to culminate into a war. It is a scary prospect. More so, with both the countries being nuclear armed.

But the question is even if war breaks out, would it lead to resolution of the problems of the two countries? The answer  is in the negative. One, the war will destabilize the region. And at the end of it, the situation will remain unchanged. There will be same issues and problems to resolve. And the two nations will have little option but to get back to engagement and dialogue. So this whole exercise of war-mongering looks pointless.

But like individuals the nation states often do not behave rationally. Pointlessness of the exercise hasn't stopped nations from going to war, often at great humanitarian cost. The US-led wars since 2001 are a case in point. These wars supposedly fought against terror have ravaged many countries. But after the loss of thousands of lives and destruction of many countries, there are little signs that the terrorism has died down. Instead, the problem has gotten worse. The US faces a far bigger challenge from terrorism than it did in 2001. Al Qaeda has now been taken over by the ISIS and looks benign comparable to the latter. And the US despite being a global power looks hopelessly bogged down in the spreading conflict.

Does India and Pakistan too want to go down this path? The common sense would dissuade one from such a prospect and push the neighbours towards talks. But as of now there seems to be a paucity of common sense in the region. But the fact is this is the best course available to the two countries is the dialogue. This is the only way they can address their differences and move towards a resolution of their long-standing issues. Only such an outcome is a guarantee of a sustainable peace in the region. This needs the leaders of the two countries to show statesmanship and engage for the well-being and the prosperity of the region.





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