It is hard to ignore the blatant and innumerable ceasefire violations by Indian forces across the Line of Control and the Working Boundary especially since the beginning of this year. Such violations have been costly, leading to dozens of civilian casualties, many of them innocent women and children. While the latest escalation of shelling at the LoC is indeed alarming for the whole of South Asia, one can see a definite pattern emerging and what is most discernible in recent years is that India is not doing this randomly or without purpose. It has adopted border shelling as a matter of state policy regardless of the consequences and the lives snuffed out in the bargain. These provocations are both unwelcome and dangerous.
Figures seem to widely support this contention. Last year alone there were 1,300 ceasefire violations – a staggering rise since 2003 when only 11 violations were recorded. The number of violations has been increasing in fact since 2008 but since the installation of the government of Narendra Modi, there has been a pronounced escalation in border shelling. Fifteen long years have gone by since India and Pakistan signed the ceasefire agreement which was fairly effective in the first few years but since 2014 the two sides have drifted further away from the goals of peacebuilding thanks in large measure to the belligerence of Indian troops. Consider the unwarranted attack on a van carrying schoolchildren. Such tactics are in clear breach of international norms and ethics because Indian forces are indiscriminately and routinely targeting civilians.
In the current geopolitical situation, there is no room for any miscalculations between the two nuclear-armed states. Peace and not war is imperative for South Asia and the rest of the world. Any misstep would be catastrophic for all.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 26th, 2018.
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