Action-reaction loop leaves fragile ceasefire along LoC in tatters
Till February 5, 2015, there have been 242 incidents of the ceasefire being violated by Pakistan, according to the Indian army.Updated: Feb 06, 2018 08:39 IST
A December 25 cross-border raid by India in which four Pakistani soldiers were killed was the immediate trigger for heightened military activity along the Line of Control that saw the killing of four Indian soldiers, including a captain, in a mortar attack in the Rajouri sector of Jammu region on Sunday, according to a senior army officer who tracks developments on the de facto border.
Till February 5, 2018, there have been 242 incidents of the ceasefire being violated by Pakistan, according to the Indian army.
The December 25 attack itself was a response to the December 23 killing of four Indian soldiers by Pakistan in an ambush in the Keri-Rajouri sector.
Pakistan has shelled Indian posts and civilian areas almost every day since December 25, leaving India with no choice but to launch a series of fierce counter assaults.
The army’s hardened military resolve was reiterated on Monday by its vice chief Lieutenant General Sarath Chand who said the force would lets its “actions speak” at the LoC.
“What is unfolding at the LoC is a worsening loop of action and reaction. The Pakistanis violate the cease-fire and we strike back. I see no signs of the tensions easing off,” said Lieutenant General Vinod Bhatia (retd), who was the director general of military operations (DGMO) between 2012 and 2014.
While the December 23 ambush may have been the trigger, analysts say the first signs of Pakistan raising the ante along the disputed border were visible in the months following the September 2016 surgical strikes by India against terror launch pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
The surgical strikes were a watershed in the sense that Pakistan began escalating tensions in a systematic way along the LoC and that trend continued through 2017, said another senior army officer familiar with the situation at the border.
Both officials asked not to be identified.
“The strikes were a loss of face for Pakistan. And an aggressive posture along the LoC may have seemed to be a good option for the Pakistan army to redeem itself,” the second officer added.
Figures accessed by Hindustan Times through a Right to Information application corroborate this.
Some volatile sectors along the LoC recorded an unprecedented spike in cease-fire violations by the Pakistani army. In Naushera, the Pakistani army shelled Indian positions 220 times in the first 10 months of 2017 compared to 30 in 2016.
The trend was similar in Krishna Ghati sector where the cease-fire was breached 128 times against 20 in 2016. And in the Poonch sector, Pakistan violated the cease-fire 112 times in the first 10 months of 2017 compared to 13 in 2016.
Overall, there were 860 incidents of cease-fire violations by Pakistan last year according to the Indian army– almost a fourfold jump over the number recorded in 2017. Such violations are aimed not only at causing Indian casualties but also to help terrorists sneak into Jammu and Kashmir. However, the gamble hasn’t paid off for Pakistan.
India lost more than 60 troops at the disputed border but Pakistani casualties have been far higher. At his annual press conference on January 12, army chief General Bipin Rawat said the Pakistani army was suffering heavy losses along the LoC and its casualty figures were three to four times higher than India’s.
India is retaliating to inflict punishment, said strategic affairs expert Brigadier Gurmeet Kanwal (retd). “This should be progressively increased till it eventually becomes prohibitive (for Pakistan). They understand no other language,” he said.
The unending firing and shelling has left the November 2003 cease-fire in tatters. “The cease-fire is good for both India and Pakistan. But the Pakistanis should remember they need it more than us,” said General Bhatia.
(With inputs from Jeevan Prakash Sharma).