The Big Picture- Border Casualties Rise: Why and Where Is It Heading?
The Indo-Pakistan border across Jammu and Kashmir has started resembling a war zone. Major hostilities have heightened the tensions which has resulted in loss of several lives both civilian and security men including women and children on both sides of the border. The tit for tat scenario has witnessed firing across the borders with the Indian army and BSF claiming to have destroyed 14 Pakistani bunkers and killing 3 Pakistani soldiers recently. Meanwhile, the Indian Government is talking of more such retaliatory attacks if Pakistan continues to violate ceasefire conditions and assists in infiltration of terrorists. The Government is also concerned of the civilians losing their lives and facing the brunt of these attacks.
These kinds of escalations are quite unusual. Such grave intensity of fire on LoC and the exchanges between the two sides was last seen during Operation Parakram when the Indian army was deployed in totality on LoC after Parliament attack. The army this time is certainly deployed for a preventing any further escalations.
The situation is unfortunate because there does not seem to be a political objective behind it. Ultimately, any kind of military action has to conclude with the achievement of a political objective. Earlier, Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi said that India was moving towards international isolation of Pakistan. To a great extent this has been achieved as well but continuous tensions and hostilities along LoC also attract international attention towards the situation in Jammu and Kashmir which is not a welcome development. So, there is a careful line which India has to observe in terms of drawing attention towards Pakistan’s inability to control terrorist groups.
Deliberate targeting of civilians by Pakistan is worrying for Indian administration. 400 schools have been shut down and many people have been injured and lost their lives. Both militarily and diplomatically the objective of the Indian Government is to curb cross border terrorism. It is unlikely that in this case India would succeed militarily because the non-state actors i.e. the terrorists will not be deterred by cross border firing. Therefore, any military action however limited or extensive needs to have an objective i.e. to change the behaviour of the Pakistan army and make them avoid incursions across the LoC.
There are domestic compulsions both in India and in Pakistan. The media play on cross border bombardment is more in northern India than in Pakistan. The violation of ceasefire with artillery firing suits Pakistan more than India as they use bombardment as a measure to come across India. Indian border fencing will be destroyed if artillery will be used because this will facilitate entry of more militants in India.
Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi has shown fair amount of capability in turning the political situation to take certain risks. The way the Pakistani media has been talking about the new army chief appointment along with probe on Mr. Nawaz Sharif for corruption charges will take some time to settle down. As far as the international pressure is concerned, USA is busy in its elections and Russia over the issue of Syria. International pressure if any might come from USA itself. For the time being, it can only be expected that these escalations come to an end sooner than expected through talks and negotiations.