There came into force ceasefire agreement between India and Pakistan in 2003. It was a remarkable and an outstanding achievement of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s premiership and his successor Manmohan Singh heeded the legacy. Atal Ji had affable faith and belief in Jamhuriyat, Insaniyat and Kashmiryat. It is important to note the 2003 Agreement in the immediate context of time. It came just after four years of Kargil war, and soon after India and Pak almost went to war following the December 13, 2001 terrorist attack on Parliament. The agreement was historic and triumph of diplomacy. Pakistan’s the then Prime Minister Zaffar Ullah Khan Jamali unilaterally announced a ceasefire on Eid, India suggested the inclusion of Siachen heights and eventually the agreement was extended to the International Border and LoC existing between the two countries. This agreement remained in place for a long time of almost one and a half decades but now it is alive only in the breach, intensifying the number of cease fire violations and causing immense loss to the life and property of the people living along the LoC and International Border. The breach can only be mended through high level political intervention to save this agreement between the two nuclear neighbors.
In the latest incident, four Indian soldiers including an Army Captain were killed in cross firing in Bihmber-Gali Sector in Poonch district. Union Minister Rajnath Singh has solemnly assured that the killing of the Army soldiers will be definitely revenged. He issued this statement from poll bound Tripura making the BJP’s approach politically palatable to cover the failure of political-diplomacy to stabilize Kashmir and boarder. Doubtless, Pakistan also makes such assertions for its domestic audience when its soldiers fall to the bullets and this unrelenting tit-for-tat policy has been there for over three years.
India will have to give up this strategy of a ‘matching response’, though it may appear less deceptive at its face value but it has the potential of getting degenerated into a full blown war. Pak being a rouge and terrorist country seems to be firmly treading the turf of ‘matching response’ happily exchanging bullet for bullet and sacrificing a life for life and Kashmir remains still far removed from normalcy. As of now it is imperative for India to review its policy against Pak for peace to prevail upon LOC and IB because Pak is in no mode to change itself even for the sake of its own country people by following no matching response policy.
Atal Ji got Kargil war for bus mission to Lahore but he didn’t lose his heart and furthered his mission and became successful in his avowed desire of developing friendship with Pak because of his steadfast determination and high quality statesmanship and was in position to achieve ceasefire agreement that lasted for over 15 years. Similarly Modi following Atal Ji’s lofty steps has to ensure at least calmness along the LOC and IB; though he got Pathankot attack for showing goodwill gestures to Pak PM by inviting him to his swearing-in-ceremony and attending his (Pak PM) birthday party.
Since the ceasefire came into being, the 2017 has been the worst; alone in this year there have been atleast 860 incidents of ceasefire violations and during the preceding years of 2017, there were but very less number of incidents of ceasefire violations. In 2015 there had been 152 incidents and 228 in 2016. January 2018 has recorded the highest ever number of incidents in a single month, according to data given on the floor of J&K Assembly between January 18 and 22, 14 people including seven civilians were killed and over 70 were injured in firing from Pak side along the International border of Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts as well as along LoC in Poonch and Rajouri districts. Restoring of peace along border and LoC is difficult by the use of violent means and use of force even the surgical strike could not tamper the Pakistanis. The restoration of peace and normalcy requires real statesmanship and not brinkmanship. The high quality statesmanship is very much, in the possession of our beloved PM and it is high time for him to give a drift to his policy of ‘matching response’ to peace restoration in boarder areas and Kashmir valley.
Now the time has come that after so many deaths on border and huge loss of cattle and people’s property, the Government will have to answer the queries especially after the surgical strikes failed to tamper the Pakistanis, about the end game behind the approach oscillating between tough talk and week action. The public wants to know whether this daily dose of attrition has an expiry date?
The J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah duo often pitch for Indo-Pak peace talk but remain silent about its modus operandi. It is well known fact that Pakistan is being ruled by Pakistan Army and not by duly elected nominal Government and therefore unless the Army is taken into a loop, it is not possible to make forward moment to restore peace and normalcy along LoC and border areas in the Valley. Therefore the time demands that a new and fresh strategy needs to be put in place for Kashmir in which Pakistan Army is to be made a stake holder to the peace process badly needed for Kashmir problem resolution and calming down the heated up Line of Actual Control and International Border.