Dangerous Spiral

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ON Friday last India and Pakistan engaged in one of their fiercest skirmishes along the Line of Control leading to loss of sixteen lives on both sides, ten of them on Indian side that included four security personnel. On Pakistani side, the government acknowledged the losses of five civilians and one soldier. This is a huge loss. Both sides accused each other of using heavy weapons against each other which not only led to the loss of lives but also destroyed the property. The videos of the damage to the property on both sides went viral on social media. This was like witnessing the scenes from a war.

Mercifully, the situation has since returned to normal. But it’s only a matter of time before the situation is likely to go back to square one. Ever since 2003 LoC ceasefire agreement began to fray around a decade ago, the border skirmishes have grown in frequency leading to loss of lives on both sides. This year so far 4,052 ceasefire violations by Pakistan have been reported of which 394 took place in October. 3,233 incidents were reported last year.

T And there’s no way it can be addressed unless the two counties arrive at a fundamental understanding that addresses the core issues at the root of their lingering estrangement. But that prospect appears now farther off than ever before.

More so, after the revocation of Article 370 last year that has further drifted the neighbours apart. Pakistan sees India’s withdrawal of Kashmir’s special status enshrined in Article 370 as a dilution of what it sees as the disputed status of the region. But New Delhi sees the changes to the constitutional position of J&K as its internal matter. Two positions look all but irreconcilable. But for a durable peace in the region, the two countries have to find a way to get together. This requires statesmanship on both sides. And this will only be possible if there’s willingness on the part of the neighbors to resolve their issues. But the Fridays escalation gives no such confidence. The situation looks set to go further downhill from hereon. That is, if the leadership of the two countries doesn’t step back and seek to put their relationship back on rails.

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