The sudden violence on the Line of Control and international border in Jammu & Kashmir has not only shocked the people of the border state but also managed to raise the hackles of newly installed Modi government which is facing the heat now as people start questioning the promise of ‘Acche Din’. Despite the fact that two democratic governments are at the helm of the affairs in both the countries which along with their civil societies want peace in the region, the tension on the border is rising daily in small degrees as Pakistan Rangers target Indian forces, and villages. This is despite the fact that the Ceasefire which was accepted in 2003 has withstood the test of over a decade, and both countries have ensured that temperature on both sides of the border remains tempered.
What has suddenly happened that has turned LoC almost into a war zone which reminiscenes the pre-ceasefire era everybody is trying to figure out. However, the experts on India – Pak relations point out that reason for LoC violations are not to be found on the border but in Islamabad where relationship between democratically elected Nawaz Sharif, and the military are slowly deteriorating, and going beyond repair. The Pak PM is also finding it difficult politically as his opponents led by the mercurial Imran Khan are trying to corner him, they too are backed by the men in olive green. The relations between the Sharifs and army are said to have reached a nadir, and this is also due to fact that Nawaz Sharif has been advocating better economic relations with India, and is also pushing for gas pipeline project with India which could help Pakistan immensely. Also good relations with India will also ensure that Pakistan does not have to enter into a arm race with India, and compete with it militarily which obviously means that value of army would have declined in the years to come.
The idea of having better relations with India as per foreign relations experts is anathema to Pak army which believes totally in Jehadi ideology, and professes the use of all means to somehow bring down India. The firing on the border which started intermittently and now has become a dangerous feature which could escalate further is the handiwork of those elements in the army which does not want both countries to have peaceful relations. The efforts to start back channel diplomacy which was likely to happen with Modi and Sharif both interested in peace talks have also been nixed in the buds with obstinate stand of the Pakistan High Commissioner who met Kashmiri separatists despite opposition by the hosts. This led to the cancellation of foreign secretary level talks, a major setback for peace process.
Sources tell that the Pakistan military is confident that it can easily take on India as well as it’s own democratically elected government because of the changing strategic equation in Afghanistan where the Americans are likely to become even more dependent on that country to exit Kabul as well as to ensure a stable government there.
In such a situation, Pakistan army wants to take control of how the government moves on with India on talks as it would not want it’s strategic importance compromised in anyway. With elections on the anvil in Jammu and Kashmir there is also strong speculation that terror operatives across the border are waiting to be pushed, and this firing is meant to give them a cover. However, sources claim that primary reason the Pak army is doing it is to bring it’s own government on the back foot. It could also be a ploy to test the patience of Modi government as the army wants to test the waters with India to know how much this assertive, and so-called powerful BJP government is ready to take from across the border.
Meanwhile the life of people on the border in J&K has gone from bad to worse as people in a large number of villages in Arnia, and RS Pura sectors have been forced to vacate their homes. A number of houses have been damaged, crops are being wasted in fields, and cattles are suffering which will lead to tension, and anger among people, and with tv channels beaming live across the country the heat for government is going to rise, and it is the first major challenge for the Modi government to handle. With BJP promising to take on Pakistan aggressively it remains to be seen how the PM tames the Pak army, and silences the guns of Pak rangers, and eventually his critics.