Border skirmishes

Published: January 10, 2013
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An Indian border post near the Line of Control. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

An Indian border post near the Line of Control. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

The timing of the latest skirmish on the Line of Control (Loc) between Pakistan and India is unfortunate. It comes just as ties had seemed to be warming up. The border tensions and conflicting accounts as to precisely what happened naturally represent a big step backwards.

On January 8, India claimed that firing across the LoC by Pakistani soldiers had killed two of its troops, with the spokesman for the Indian Army’s Northern Control stating this was a violation of the ceasefire agreed on by the two sides. Pakistan has denied being involved in any incident of unprovoked firing, but cites an incident on January 6, when it says Indian troops attacked a base and killed one of its soldiers. In turn, India denies this and says its positions had been bombarded for five hours by Pakistan.

We cannot really determine what the truth is. All we have to go by is a set of statements from military offices on either side of the border. But it is certainly sad that such tensions should arise at potentially critical moments. Some analysts are already beginning to question this and ask what lies behind it. But then, perhaps we should try and stay away from conspiracy theories — even though it is quite true that there are elements on both sides of the border who would rather not see peace triumph. We must not allow these hawks to succeed, and must ensure that incidents of this nature do not stand in the way of the bigger effort to create regional harmony. The need for this has been indirectly suggested in the new Pakistan Army doctrine, which sees militants at home as the biggest threat to security, implying this threat does not come from across the border. This is something to build on. Incidents such as those at the border must not be allowed to intervene and we can, for now, only hope things will simmer down quickly before any lasting damage is done. Both Islamabad and New Delhi must work to smooth things over and take measures to prevent similar tensions from erupting again in the future.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 10th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (18)

  • gp65.
    Jan 10, 2013 - 1:01AM

    “We cannot really determine what the truth is. All we have to go by is a set of statements from military offices on either side of the border. “

    Well there is no ambiguity that 2 soldiers have had their heads severed. There is a past track record of people on which side have a track record of severing heads. We have a track record of one country’s military not being under civilian control and trying to create a problem whenever the 2 countries are approaching peace. We have a track record of one country’s army repeatedly lying and not taking ownership of its actions which decades later it admits to. We have one country’s army which has never allowed any democratic government to complete its term. These should give us pointers to what really happened.

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  • John B
    Jan 10, 2013 - 2:00AM

    Here is the time line of the story:

    On Jan 5 or 6 there was firing from PAK side into the Indian side, and Indians shot back. Each went to bed after warming their guns as before.

    Except this time, a PAK soldier got injured, his treatment at his base was ineffective and was burried later after succumbing to his wounds. There is no Indian casualty in this skirmish.

    Now PAK needs a reason to tell the dead soldiers family and village. PAK claims that Indians crossed into the PAK side and killed this poor guy, and left the others unharmed and went back to India.

    Two days later, from PAK sides perpetrators entered into India and now two Indian soldiers dead and one wounded.

    Indians might have gathered evidence that they are indeed pak army guys(Baloch division) otherwise the entire Indian government might not be pounding on PAK.

    It may be by design or by serendipitous course of events, but the fact remains that there are two beheaded Indian soldiers of Jan 8 and one dead PAK soldier of Jan 6.

    India story adds up, because India has acknowledged that there were firing incidences on Jan5 /6 from across the border but denied entering the PAK post . The no casualty figure of India of Jan 6 incidence supports it and only one PAK soldier injured in this alleged close combat operations raises question mark on the claim.

    Some how a PAK soldier got injured earlier. It is likely from Indian fire on Jan 5/6 but did it happen as PAK claims or happened when each other were warming the guns on Jan5/6? from their perches across the borders?

    Some body beheaded the Indian soldiers and we all know who has the habit of beheading.

    Draw your own conclusion.

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  • Indian
    Jan 10, 2013 - 2:33AM

    I fully agree with this editorial as an Indian. But there’s a more important point here. When people talk about “ties”, fine. The “peace process”, fine. But “reconciliation”? I read the Express Tribune everyday. The Pakistani writers and commenters here are great people. But I think they’re a minority in certain important respects. Take “secularism”, for instance. If you took a poll in India and Pakistan on whether they approved or disapproved of a secular state, you would get opposite results. That’s a reality. A big difference. So there’s no “reconciliation” between India and Pakistan, really. There are a lot of foolish Indian (mostly Punjabi) liberals who think that with mombattis and cultural exchanges we can somehow “reverse” Partition. Nonsense. Pakistan and Pakistanis define themselves, and their nationality, in terms of Islam. The Do Qaumi Nazaria. “Pakistan ka matlab kya? La Ilaha Ila Allah!” It’s amazing how these foolish Indian liberals who hold candlelight vigils at Wagah so often never seem to hear this slogan. Pakistan is roughly 50% Punjabi. Where are all the Pakistani Punjabi TV channels? They see themselves differently. Many polls have shown that Pakistanis see themselves as Muslims first and Pakistanis second. It’s only the (hapless, constitutionally, legally discriminated against) Pakistani Hindus, Christians and Ahmedis who see themselves as Pakistanis first, before their religion. This is another hard fact. So, forget about “reconciliation”. Peace, sure, Demilitarization, sure. Trade, sure. Culture, sure. But unless and until the Pakistani Muslim majority — on its own — rejects and repudiates the ideologies and legacies of Iqbal and Jinnah, there will be no genuine meeting ground between India and Pakistan. And I don’t believe that will happen anytime soon. Unless there’s a mass outbreak of atheism in Pakistan… :-)

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  • Raj - USA
    Jan 10, 2013 - 2:41AM

    “Both Islamabad and New Delhi must work to smooth things over and take measures to prevent similar tensions from erupting again in the future.”

    Both Islamabad and New Delhi must work together ?????????

    This editorial should have stated: Both Rawalpindi and New Delhi must work together……….

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  • Baniya
    Jan 10, 2013 - 3:10AM

    “We cannot really determine what the truth is.” The rest of indian media has already determined the truth…..I don’t know why Endian Tribune is lagging behind.

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  • F
    Jan 10, 2013 - 6:55AM

    One party has vested interests in using terror as a state policy and keeping Kashmir on the boil. The same party has established credentials in barbarity. That entity is an institution to itself. You know who that is. The world knows who it is. Asking the UN to investigate is a ploy to ultimately draw the UN into the so called Kashmir “dispute”. The charades continue except that no one is buying into these criminal antics.

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  • Jai
    Jan 10, 2013 - 7:55AM

    @Indian:
    Mostly Indian Punjabi liberals wanting unification with Pakistan? Which world do you live in Mr. Indian? Punjab saw the worst violence during partition. If there is anyone in India who realizes the futility of talks with Pakistan it’s the Indian Punjabis. Perhaps that’s why us Punjabi people make up the largest number of volunteers in the Indian army.

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  • Ammar
    Jan 10, 2013 - 9:28AM

    @Indian
    “rejects and repudiates the ideologies and legacies of Iqbal and Jinnah, there will be no genuine meeting ground between India and Pakistan..”

    A correction is needed here. Jinnah vision and steps were to make Pakistan a secular county.

    “You are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed. That has nothing to do with the business of the State.” [Jinnah, Presidential address to the first Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, Karachi, 11 August 1947]

    Pakistan first national anthem was written by a Hindu poet. Why Jinnah did that ? because he wanted to sow the seed of secularism. Pakistan will become secular one day but not right now First we have to get rid of the Mullahs.

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  • toticalling
    Jan 10, 2013 - 11:10AM

    @John B:
    I like the way you describe how it happened. Since your descrition is one sided, nobody should take your opinion seriously. We remember how ‘peaceful’ India attacked Goa, Hyderabad, Juna Garh and annexed these territories. It attcaked East Pakistan to weaken Pakistan. There is no black and white in life. The evil intentions are on both sides. So hold your horses

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  • Awais
    Jan 10, 2013 - 2:43PM

    @gp65.:
    I am sorry but there is little truth to your comment. If Indians are posing to be so truthful, let the UN investigate the matter as suggested by FM Khar.

    Gone are the days of media accusations. Indian media can dance however they want, but the truth is “accusations on tv channels does not make anyone guilty”. Period!

    By the way, gone are the days when indians used to quote that no democratic government was allowed to complete its tenure in Pakistan. Last government completed its five years, this government is completing its five years in coming April. I suggest you educate yourself with changing times and stop crying about Pakistan Army.

    PS: Please tell your army not to mess up first and then cry on media!

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  • anonymous
    Jan 10, 2013 - 4:34PM

    I totally agree with the author that we should not let the ‘hawks’ of hatred take the peace process away, but what hurts Indians the most is that even when something happens on the ground Pakistani govt. ( which i believe want peace) , they never acknowledge it. Pakistani govt atleast should not say the incidence didn’t happen. Its like rubbing salt on the wounds. Where will the trust come from? Do you think if we have two bodies without heads and Pak says,”no no nothing has happened, we are shocked that you are saying such crap”, then India can ever build trust in pakistan?
    Its still better to say terrorists might have done this, if they can’t stop their army from doing misadventure.
    Anyways, my personal feeling, when I look at such events I feel like India should go for all out war and finish it once for all.(of course at the cost of Half of India).
    But, then I look at the people who are trying so hard to bring peace. These guys have been working so hard for such a long time, and still believe in peace. It makes me think for the sake of the efforts of these people, we should bear it with a large heart, and let it go. Ultimately, war is what terrorists want, they will succeed if we act angrily. At the same time, these incidents can be tolerated repeatedly.
    To conclude: Now, most of the Indians believe that Pakistan can say anything and go 180degrees later on. I would like to say Pak Govt if it make statements in a transparent manner or atleast keep Indian feelings in mind while making these statements, it would definitely build confidence and trust.

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  • gp65.
    Jan 10, 2013 - 7:54PM

    @Awais: ”
    @gp65.:
    “I am sorry but there is little truth to your comment”.
    Please quote the specific sentence I said which was untrue/

    “If Indians are posing to be so truthful, let the UN investigate the matter as suggested by FM Khar.”

    Did Pakistan invite UN to investgate Salala? No. IT even refused joint investiigation. Did Pakistan invite UN to verify the evidence provided by India and US regarding 26/11? No. The only purpose of this offer is to set a precedent for UN ivolvement in KAshmir. This is something that PAkistan has wanted for decades and India has disageed with.

    Facts will come out and truth will be established – as it was in Kargill – without getting UN involved.

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  • Jan 10, 2013 - 8:09PM

    “The need for this has been indirectly suggested in the new Pakistan Army doctrine, which sees militants at home as the biggest threat to security”

    If pakistan army really believe India is not a threat and if pakistan govt believes some non state actror is doing this to derail the process then where do these terrirosts comes from and why dont pakistan army shot them dead so that peace process continues.terrirosts are from pakistans side and stopping them is the responsibility of pakistan army and it is obvious that if Indian soldier is killed India will point to either pakistan army or terrirosts but the problem is if pakistan accepts India’s claim of done by terrirosts then it raises problem for pakistan govt as it will expose pakistan army inability to controll terrirosts thereby pressure comming on then and if dont accept India’s claim of done by terrirost then obiously finger goes to if not terrirosts then pakistan army since in POK both terrirosts and pakistan army both are present..So the best ans for pakistan gove is not to accept anything and live in complete denial.
    what i have written is unbiased and only a sensible pakistani can understand not all

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  • gp65.
    Jan 10, 2013 - 8:14PM

    @toticalling: “There is no black and white in life. The evil intentions are on both sides”

    This is true that between 2 countries where there has been so much bad blood both have taken at each other. But when India is involved, it does not lie about its involvement.

    .In Kargill Pakistan dressed up its soldiers in tribal clothing and sent them and then lied about their involvement. Also for about 15 years it sent jihadis to India – a fact that it continued to deny and lie about. Now these are at least admitted. IT also lied about Abu Jundal – the Indian who was hired as Pakistani agent. He was found in KSA with PAkistani passport and Pakistani establishment tried hard to block his extradition from KSA. Rehman Malik still claims he was Indian agent despite such obvious facts. Oh and do you know what Jundal’s job was – to teach Hindi to the 26/11 boys and have them speak in Hindi so it could be claimed that this had nothing to do with Pakistan and it was an Indian false flag operation.

    In this regard, one country and one country alone has a track record of deception. No objective person can deny that.

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  • AK Murthy
    Jan 10, 2013 - 8:37PM

    We Indians are not crying but deploring the way the 2 soldiers were tortured. Rest assured that the Indian Army will not sit quiet. More is to come. An eye for an eye is the best way to reduce tensions.

    No longer can the weak and lame Manmohan Singh softness on Pakistan will work. The will of the people in India has to to be taken into consideration and this means we will get and make justice.

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  • karma
    Jan 10, 2013 - 11:27PM

    We cannot really determine what the truth is.

    The article got this bang on. I am sure both the armies keep doing/saying things that are not entirely above board.

    But, overall – I tend to believe Indian side more than Pakistani side, for one simple reason. Pakistan Army’s track record in wanting to promote incursion into Indian held areas have been proven time and again. So, as a status-quo power Indian army has no reason to escalate, unless Pakistan wishes to.

    But, then individual incidents may have their own causes. So, one can only hope this doesn’t escalate beyond the lives that are already lost. Each of those men died for no real purpose at all.

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  • karma
    Jan 10, 2013 - 11:54PM

    @Awais:

    Sorry to say this – But, the govt. did not complete 5 years. It is only the parliament that would. An govt. is known by the PM and There was a change in Prime Minister midway, a

    Besides, who decides to tenure and continuation of Pak Army chief? ‘democratic govt.’ or the Chief himself? Even after the biggest terrorist Osama was killed within Pakistan, which at the least exposed incompetence of the Army chief & ISIS – not a single officer was punished.

    What does this show? Democracy or autocracy of Army?Recommend

  • G. Din
    Jan 11, 2013 - 5:58PM

    @Jai:
    I agree with Indian except he should have been a little more specific. Our Sikhs are Punjabis who died alongside their Hindu Punjabi brethren while both were saving themselves from the marauding hordes chasing them. Yet, watch what happened when Master Tara Singh asked for a Punjabi Suba (not “Sikh Suba”)! Hindus betrayed them. They even disowned Punjabi as their common language. Punjabi Hindus are the ones who are feeling the pangs of affinity with Muslims across the border today and are on the forefront of “peace at any cost” campaign, this time betraying the nation that opened its arms to offer them refuge. Master Tara Singh got his Punjabi Suba anyway because the rest of India appreciated his leadership and recognized the Sikh aspirations for their culture and language.
    I am not a Sikh, only an embarrassed and deeply hurt and apologetic Hindu!

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