A soldier was killed on Thursday in firing across the Line of Control. In retaliation, India claimed to have killed two to three Pakistani soldiers. The exchange of firing across the LoC has picked up in recent past in reflection of the prevailing abysmal state of India, Pakistan relations. And as matters stand, it looks unlikely that the two countries will get back to normal ties anytime soon. The scrapping of Article 370 on August 5 which granted J&K its semi-autonomous position within Indian Union has drifted India, Pakistan farther apart from each other. Talking about the growing skirmishes along LoC, the Army Chief General Bipin Rawat has expressed the possibility of the situation escalating further. Over the past several months, statements have also emanated from New Delhi about retaking Pakistan Administered Kashmir.
This is a fraught state of affairs. It will be difficult to contain the fallout of a yet another major skirmish between the two nations. Both nations have allowed the matters to worsen and neither seems ready to take the first step towards normalising the situation. There is every chance about the situation getting out of hand. The lack of dialogue has deprived the two sides of the necessary crisis tools to handle the situation in the event of a major provocation on either side. Another major attack in Kashmir or the rest of India could push the situation over the edge. Similarly, another surgical strike by India could trigger a major confrontation between the two countries. Continuing with the current stalemate is dangerous and fraught with the prospect of a dangerous escalation. Engagement is the only option if the two countries want to avert a major crisis.
The political machismo may win politicians their votes and retribution may give sections of the media their high and TRPs, but a government policy guided and dictated by such considerations and pressures will lead to catastrophic consequences in the long term. We already have examples of the countries which have gone down this route, among them United States itself. Far from controlling terrorism, its war on terror in Afghanistan and the Middle East gave us ISIS which took all the global powers together to defeat. Similarly, Israeli’s period intervention in Palestine, a territory with just a basic wherewithal of a state, has still not bought it peace. Instead, the conflict has only gotten worse by the day. What India, Pakistan need is a sustained engagement uninterrupted by the violence geared to finding a lasting solution to long festering issues.