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Mainstream, VOL LII, No 42, October 11, 2014

De-escalate Border Tensions

Saturday 11 October 2014, by SC


Tensions have escalated along the India-Pakistan border with ceasefire violations and firing taking place on the Line of Control (LoC) and the International Border (IB) in J&K since the beginning of this month.

The gravity of the situation is evident from a press release issued by the India Chapter of the Pakistan-India Peoples’ Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD):

According to reports published in Indian and Pakistani newspapers, more than 18 civilians have been killed and about 60 persons have been injured in this recent spate of ceasefire violations. While India claims that Pakistani troops violated ceasefire in the Poonch sector on October 1, the Pakistani side claims that on Sunday (October 5), the Indian troops violated the Line of Control (LoC) ceasefire and resorted to unprovoked firing in the Jandroot sector near Kotli. The Indian side alleged that Pakistani forces shelled the village of Arnia about three kms from the border on 6th. The violence has engulfed almost the entire Line of Control (LoC) from the Krishna Ghati (KG) sector to Mankote, Balakote, Keriand and even Bhimber Gali (BG). With Pakistani and Indian troops resorting to weapons fire and mortar shelling, thousands of villagers have been displaced.

This is not all. It further informs:

In the last one week Pakistan has caught 22 Indian boats and arrested around 125 Indian fisherman. Indian authorities have also arrested six Pakistani fishermen and one boat. This goes on to prove that the tension on the border is directly impacting fishing communities of both the countries.

The rising tensions between the two countries are thus gravely affecting civilians of India and Pakistan. In fact in the interests of these civilians steps must be initiated with utmost urgency in order to lower the heightened border tensions at the earliest.

The press release has also aptly pointed out:

With elections round the corner in key Indian States including J&K and the domestic turmoil in Pakistan, ‘border nationalism’ is being resorted to by both nations.

Jingoism and sabre-rattling on both sides are futile. Yet there are reports that the area of conflict could expand. Our security forces have already declared a state of alert along the Punjab border. And the corporate-driven media in our country is toeing the government line in raising the temperature of confrontation.

What is most unfortunate is that lines of communication between the two sides have been snapped. Now the Modi Government has made the India-Pak talks conditional on an end to cross-border firing. But even to ensure that the proposed ceasefire holds it is necessary to restore channels of communication between the two DGMOs.

Against this backdrop one cannot but endorse what the PIPFPD’s India Chapter has underscored:

We believe restoration of dialogue and peace talks at the highest level alone can bring back normalcy and peace to the thousands of suffering people living in the border areas and also the fisherpeople who have been a casualty to this increased hostility.

No issue of prestige should stand in the way of revival of negotiations between the two states. For at stake are the lives and livelihood of the common people of both the countries.

October 9 S.C.