Indian provocations along the Line of Control (LoC) and the Working Boundary (WB) continue to claim innocent lives. In the latest round of shelling by the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) across the WB on Friday at least eight people were killed and another 47 injured, among them 24 women and 11 children.
Ten of the injured are in a critical condition. CoAS General Raheel Sharif who rushed to the place to inquire after the injured expressed a common sentiment when said the Indians had “crossed all limits to terrorize Pakistan’s civilian population disregarding international conventions and norms.” For those close to the LoC and the WB, it has been like living in a war zone.
During the past three months alone, Indians have violated the cease-fire as many as 143 times, killing 24 people. Yet there is no sign of tensions easing up.
The security forces are not expected to take the provocations lying down. Exchange of fire has been causing loss of life on the other side too, though on a smaller scale. On Friday, India reported three civilian casualties.
No one deserves to die like this. New Delhi, unfortunately, continues to resist any resolution, rejecting Islamabad’s proposal to have the UN Military Observer Group hold an impartial inquiry, insisting that it is a bilateral issue. There is a bilateral arrangement of flag meetings between the directors general of military operations, but that too has not helped to sort out things.
Neither does New Delhi honour the 2003 bilateral cease-fire agreement, which in fact is the real cause of recurring clashes. As per this agreement, the two sides are not to construct military posts and bunkers within a certain distance from the LoC and the WB. Yet construction activity keeps getting tried.
Media reports about Friday’s incident suggest the trouble started when Pakistan Rangers saw use of an excavator by the Indian side near the WB, which was a violation of the agreement.
The Indians, of course, know that Pakistan will not let that happen. Why then do they attempt violations? There are two obvious explanations. One is the increasing assertiveness of the Indian army in matters related to Pakistan.
And the other the Modi government’s own need to whip up anti-Pakistan fervour to please his right wing Hindu fundamental constituency, and also to divert the general public opinion from his lacklustre performance on the economic as well as political front. The provocations at the LoC and the WB at the cost of civilian lives must stop.
It is not enough for India’s friends, especially the US, to publicly urge both sides to maintain restraint. They need to do more to help bring the situation between two nuclear rivals under control lest it spins out of control. The directors general of Pakistan Rangers and India’s BSF are slated to meet from September 9 onwards to discuss cease-fire violations.
These discussions must lead to a durable cease-fire.