Finally, India’s threat to stop the crossing with arms, if need be, ended that staged show.
As a matter of policy, Pakistan resorts to high-voltage actions around February 5 — which it observes as Kashmir Solidarity Day — each year to keep its propaganda machine going to impress the separatist and Islamist elements in the Kashmir valley. On one occasion, it gathered a large body of civilians at the Line of Control, threatening that the group would transgress the de facto boundary and enter India. Finally, India’s threat to stop the crossing with arms, if need be, ended that staged show.
This year, while keeping up its sustained violation of the ceasefire agreement — the persistent trend since the Indian action of so-called “surgical strike” in September 2016 — the Pakistan Army used heavier calibre weapons, including light artillery guns, heavy mortars and anti-tank guided missiles, in the Bhimber Gali area of Rajouri district which caused much greater damage than usual, killing a young Army captain and three soldiers, besides two BSF jawans and civilians.
We should be in no doubt that the Indian Army would have inflicted similar damage to the Pakistan side. The question is how is this escalatory spiral to be checked.
In 2017, there were 861 incidents of ceasefire violations by Pakistan along the 778-km LoC in Kashmir, and 120 such violations along the approximately 200-km international border section in the state. In 2018, there have already been 241 truce violations. Things haven’t been so bad in 15 years.
The Army does not appear to see the situation improving in the short term. Initiating diplomatic processes is necessary, but unlikely to yield results unless the Kashmir Valley is also cooled down politically.