South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

The scenario on the Line of Control (LoC) and in Kashmir is a very scary. Tension between India and Pakistan is escalating. It has been tense for some time but with the beheading of two Indian soldiers the scenario has turned worse. Pakistan has officially denied the mutilation of the bodies. UN is ‘paying attention’ to the tensions. US has offered to help in de-escalating the rising tensions. Kashmir is burning since last July and there is no dialogue with the stakeholders.

The sentiment is running high in India after the beheading of soldiers. As expected, a right wing party like Shiv Sena is trying to exploit the sentiments in their favour by saying PM should have ‘Gun ki Baat’ with Pakistan instead of ‘Maan ki Baat.’ Shiv Sena is part of the Central government and cannot escape from the ‘collective’ decisions. One cannot play role of opposition while enjoying the fruits of power. The tragedy of our system is parties talk hawkish when they are in opposition but when they come to power they talk in a different language.

In 2013, after beheading of Hemraj, an Indian soldier, then opposition leader Sushma Swaraj had said that they should get 10 heads from the other side. Narendra Modi, then Gujarat CM, had blasted UPA government for not taking enough action against Pakistan. Today they are silent. A government cannot run on sentiments. The issue needs to be looked into seriously. It is also essential to see that such barbaric acts are not repeated.

Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lt Gen AK Bhatt spoke to his Pakistani counterpart over the hotline and expressed grave concern about the incident. In 2016, the Indian Army lost 82 soldiers in cross-border firing. This number is twice than that of 2014 and 2015. The incidents of ceasefire violations are also increasing.

The beheading of the bodies is recognized as a ‘war crime’ and it is against the Geneva Conventions of 1949. The Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions goes even further regarding the ‘Protection of victims of international armed conflicts’ and requests respectful treatment to the ‘remains of the person’, who died in the hostility. International Criminal Court also considers beheading of soldiers or civilians a ‘war crime’. Professional soldiers consider such horrible acts as improper and immoral.

The Kashmir policy of Central government is leading nowhere. In fact, the scenario is worsening. In the absence of any dialogue or negotiation, the scenario is worsening with each passing day. It is also leading to sympathy towards Pakistan and people are getting more religious. AS Dulat, former RAW chief who had worked extensively in Kashmir, in an interview said, “Let me say that we have invited Pakistan back into the Valley. By October things had climbed down. Kashmiris hibernate in winter wearing firan and with their kangadsi. That’s the best time to engage Kashmiris. We didn’t. Last winter we didn’t exploit the relative calm. Now children are out on the streets. Modiji had an edge when he came to power. But talks didn’t happen.”

The infiltration of any kind or illegal activities on the LoC or international border can be prevented only with the help of local people. Centre needs to go the extra mile and resume dialogue with all stakeholders. Former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee propagated the same idea. For him Insaniyat (humanity) was more important. Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) need to be taken to win over the people.

The beheading of soldiers took place in the background of Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif’s meeting with Sajjan Jindal, an Indian industrialist in Pakistan’s iconic Murree. Various opposition parties in Pakistan criticised Nawaz’s meeting with Sajjan. The meeting did not go well with the all-powerful Army. Sajjan has an excellent equation with Nawaz as well as Indian PM Narendra Modi. Nobody is really sure what the purpose of the meeting was. One can presume that it may have to do with the forthcoming meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Astana, Kazakhstan in the first week of June. Nobody can doubt the intention of Sajjan. My impression is thst he sincerely believes in permanent peace between the two neighbours. Indian and Pakistani PMs are expected to attend the meeting where both countries will become formal members of the SCO. Now in the changed scenario, meeting between the two leaders on the sidelines of the SCO has become difficult. The possible reason for the beheading may be to abort the meeting between Nawaz and Modi.

Nawaz Sharif is facing a serious crisis within Pakistan. The Dawn Leaks highlighted differences between civilian leadership and Army on tackling militancy. The Supreme Court of Pakistan’s ruling on Panama Papers saved Nawaz but it surely weakened him. This background must be kept in mind when analysing the escalating tensions between two countries. History has witnessed that whenever there is a possibility of relations improving some disruptions takes place and hope shatters. It is necessary that the leadership should not succumb and not play into the hands of the enemies of peace. It is all the more necessary that India and Pakistan need to have undisrupted dialogue.

By: Jatin Desai


Updated By: 9 May 2017