Incursions along the LoC are par for the course but the recent hyperactivity in Keran on the part of infiltrators from Pakistan has raised questions about whether the November 2003 ceasefire needs to be reviewed.
The Pakistani army seems to be in overdrive to push in as
many infiltrators as it can to stir things up in Jammu and Kashmir ahead of the winter months. The increase in activity suggests that the Pakistani army is trying to go beyond its normal mischief and prove a point.
Outgoing Pakistani army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani could be looking at setting the agenda for his yet-to-be named successor. This is perhaps his way of consolidating his legacy of waging covert war against India.
He may also be sending out a strong signal to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that it is not the civilian leadership but the military that has and will continue to dictate the Kashmir agenda.
Mr Sharif’s peace overtures will come to nothing if the Pakistani army refuses to cooperate though when he came to power he had tried to play down the role of the military.
Indian army chief General Bikram Singh has ordered his commanders to launch retaliatory strikes with artillery guns and mortars if provoked by Pakistan.
But fortunately for Pakistan, the Indian army is not a law unto itself and the Indian government has exercised the utmost restraint in the face of repeated and grave provocation.
Despite stiff domestic opposition, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh walked the extra mile in New York when he met Mr Sharif. His magnanimity was returned with one of the biggest infiltration bids in the Keran sector of Kupwara district.
The two PMs declared that their directors general of military operations would be asked to set up a mechanism to stabilise the LoC. But clearly Mr Sharif is either unable or unwilling to deliver on promises.
He has huge reservoirs of political acumen but if he can’t prevail upon the Pakistani army to give peace a chance, there is little point trying to do business with him.
The only course of action now is to ensure that any further infiltration is stopped decisively and those who have already entered Indian territory are dealt with swiftly and ruthlessly.
The developments that unfold at the LoC in the coming months will also be an indicator of who calls the shots in Pakistan. But there is little hope that better times are in the offing.
This is bound to be a personal disappointment to Mr Singh who had really wanted his legacy to be lasting peace with Pakistan.
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