Troubled LoC

ON Monday, a junior commissioned officer of the army was killed in heavy shelling by Pakistani troops along the Line of Control in Rajouri district. This was the fourth casualty in ceasefire violations in the past five days. Pakistani troops, according to the defence spokesman, opened fire and shelled mortars in forward areas in two sectors along the LoC in the twin districts of Rajouri and Poonch.

There has been a huge surge in ceasefire violations this year. According to data from the Ministry of Home Affairs, until July 2020 J&K has witnessed 2,952 ceasefire violations that has left 15 civilians and eight security forces personnel dead on this side. Pakistan, on the other hand, has blamed ceasefire violations on New Delhi. According to Pakistani foreign office data, the Indian side has committed 2,225 ceasefire violations this year, in which 18 people have died and at least 176 civilians have been injured.

Alongside the ongoing tension along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, a edgy LoC has made things very uncertain in the region. There’s already talk of India having to face a two-front war with Pakistan also opening a separate front should hostilities break out between India and China. And the continuing violence along the LoC and the consequent killings of civilians and security personnel has the potential to lead to a serious escalation.

This is why there’s an urgent need for a dialogue to address the current bitterness in relations with either or both the countries. The ongoing talks with China at the military and diplomatic level have so far borne little fruit. The stand-off at Ladakh continues so do the skirmishes along the LoC.

As far as China, there’s hope when Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping will face each other virtually for the first time since the Galwan Valley incident during the BRICS Summit to be held on November 17. The two leaders who in the past have shared a close bond may arrive at an agreement to resolve the stand-off in Ladakh.

But for a real peace in the region, it is important that India and Pakistan talk. The relations between the neighbours have plunged to their lowest low following New Delhi’s decision to revoke Article 370 of the constitution that granted J&K its autonomous status under India’s constitution. So it has become difficult to resume the talks. But they can take place if the leaders of the two countries act statesmanly. This is critical for the regional peace that India and Pakistan talk and they should.

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