Army chief General Bipin Rawat has said that the Balakot camp in Pakistan has been reactivated. In February the camp was the target of attack by Indian air force following the killing of 40 CRPF personnel in a suicide bomb attack in Pulwama. General Rawat has also said that around 500 militants were waiting to sneak into the Valley and he has promised a response that goes “way beyond” the air strike in February. However, Pakistan has termed Rawat’s remarks “completely baseless” and termed Indian statements and measures as a threat to regional peace and stability. Pakistan has also accused India of trying to mislead the international community “by using these negative tactics”.
Incidentally, General Rawat’s statements have coincided with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan’s meetings with US president Donald Trump during which ongoing Kashmir situation has come up for discussion. If anything, Rawat’s statement shows that India and Pakistan are nowhere close to a fresh engagement. On the contrary, the ties between them have only deteriorated, even though they may not be as “heated” as they were in August, as Trump has said in a recent statement.
The escalating trend of violent border exchanges is yet another proof that India and Pakistan are heading for a bigger confrontation if the neighbours don’t see any merit in resuming dialogue. If the ties are left in a 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 current state of their relationship escalate into a major conflict.
Pakistan has made it clear that unless New Delhi goes back to August 4 position on Kashmir which means reversal of the revocation of the Article 370, it won’t engage in fresh dialogue. But in India the move is seen as a fait accompli. This has created a deadlock which seems unlikely to end unless one of the countries blinks. New Delhi is unlikely to do so as it faces little international pressure. World has by and large come around to withdrawal of Article 370 and downgrading of J&K into a union territory. Islamabad, however, is unlikely to reconcile to the altered status quo in Kashmir in the near to medium term. One can only hope that eventually the better sense prevails on both sides and the two countries get back to engagement and dialogue.