Press Release January 23 2018
PIPFPD on ceasefire violations and cross border firing
The escalation of tensions between India and Pakistan at the International borders and the Line of Control are a matter of concern as they signal deterioration of relations between the two countries and are encouraging a vicious endless cycle of violence. The murderous battlefield created by the two countries at the borders is not only resulting in loss of precious lives of civilians and soldiers on both sides but is also impacting stability and peace in the entire South Asian region.
Pakistan-India Peoples’ Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD) condemns these killings and expresses its strong concern over the rising incidence of violations of ceasefire agreement and cross border firing.
The number of casualties of civilians living on both sides of the LoC and International Border / Working Boundary and soldiers are growing with each passing day as the armies on the two sides are engaged in a tit-for-tat policy. The ceasefire violations have become a norm in recent years and January 2018 is witnessing a record number of cross border firings and casualties, which is severely impacting the lives of the border people as well as causing panic and distress to many others.
Border firings and violence is not limited to the army casualties and national security; it deeply affects the life of common people who have inhabited these areas for many decades. Treating them as mere casualty numbers is the worst thing that can happen in a democracy.
Thousands of people living around borders have been involuntarily or voluntarily evacuated to other locations. Schools have been shut down. Farmers have lost their crops. It is a matter of concern for everyone. The worst affected are the people of Jammu and Kashmir and the impact of such escalation of violence goes beyond the borders. Spike in India-Pakistan hostility also enhances the threats of militarized violence in the interiors.
Instead of trying to calm the tensions, India and Pakistan are belligerently blaming each other for the ceasefire violations. The recent bouts of bellicose rhetoric and brinkmanship by the political leaders and officials in New Delhi and Islamabad, including the statements of the Indian army chief and its equally venomous response by the Pakistani foreign minister have added more fuel to the fire and enhanced the threat of war with its dangerous nuclear fallout.
It is a time when the political leadership of both the countries need to take serious and sensitive initiatives and de-escalate the violence in border areas. It is also a time when top army officials should keep away from making provocative and political statements. PIPFPD would reiterate its position that in a democracy, the armed forces must keep away from making statements and allow civilian governments to do their constitutionally mandated duties. The army or its top ranking officers making press statements and evoking jingoism of the populist kind is a direct threat to the democratic fabric of the country.
We demand Indian and Pakistani governments to take following steps to deescalate the current situation:
- An urgent meeting of DGMOs should be called to ensure that both sides refrain from cross border firing.
- Ceasefire agreement of the 2003 must be implemented in letter and spirit.
- Indian government should initiate dialogue with all the stakeholders, including the people’s organisations and civil society of Kashmir.
- Foreign ministers of both countries must meet and re-initiate the stalled dialogue process on all necessary issues.
- India and Pakistan must resume dialogue at the highest level to ensure peace prevails in the region and no more lives are lost.
Anuradha Bhasin & Asha Hans