Breaching ceasefires with impunity

Kashmir Times. Dated: 12/5/2017 1:42:18 PM

Talks and dialogue must resume to put an end to routine cases of violence on borders as well as to resolve pending disputes

The repeated incidents of violation of ceasefire on the Line of Control are further intensifying the animosity between India and Pakistan and vitiating the atmosphere. They have both the potential of prolonging the ongoing political stalemate as well as inconveniencing the lives of ordinary people at the borders, besides jeopardizing and risking precious human lives. As Islamabad and New Delhi refuse to shun their rigidity and initiate a process of dialogue, the unattended ceasefire violations have become the norm, claiming human lives, both soldiers and civilians, on either side and inducing constant panic and a sense of insecurity. The vulnerability of human lives due to the ongoing hostility merits immediate attention but has been completely ignored so far by the establishments on the two sides. Neither are military commanders communicating with each other as should be a routine course, nor is the political leadership dictated by a sense of emergency in resolving bilateral disputes, which are further made complex in an atmosphere vitiated by increasing ceasefire violations. According to the data compiled by Indian home ministry, the number of violations have gone up to 720, the highest recorded in seven years. According to the official data released on Sunday, 12 civilians and 17 security personnel have been killed on the Indian side. A total of 79 civilians and 67 security personnel were also injured in the firing. The statistics of casualties on the other side of the border is also significantly high. Both sides accuse each other of ceasefire violations and media on both sides projects the casualties and vulnerabilities on their respective sides alone. The people living at the borders are the worst hit. Rajouri and Poonch are the most affected areas, though the entire length of 740 kilometre of the LoC and 221 kilometre of the International Border inside Jammu and Kashmir is vulnerable. Since May, around 4,000 in Nowshera sector are living in relief camps in and around Nowshera town and are shuttling between their homes and relief camps. Thousands others facing the brunt of the hostile firing line are either psychologically or physically displaced. It is no small an issue that owing to the fragility of the situation, development related activities including health facilities and quality education remain absent from these border areas, making the border people most marginalised of the communities. Far from taking steps to ensure their safety by taking up the case of increasing ceasefire violations at the highest official levels, the government bothers little about the day to day grievances of the border people.
The government on the two sides, irrespective of their own domestic constituency compulsions, must take the initiative to bring in place the mechanism of regular communication channels between the army commanders so that the immediate tensions at different locations on the borders can be sorted out before they flare up. But, before that, they must put at immediate halt the ugly spectacle of blame-game with its vicious cycle of who pressed the trigger first. What is important is not only cessation of hostilities but also moves to accelerate the process of moving forward with other CBMs including creation of demilitarized zones on the LoC, which can be achievable not only through greater co-operation of militaries on both sides but also the much needed better diplomatic ties and negotiations at the higher level. The ceasefire violations should not rob the region of the much needed resumption of dialogue at the highest levels between India and Pakistan. Instead, it should be seen as a compelling reason to resume the peace process with a consistency that has not been viewed in the past.



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