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Ceasefire violations by Pakistan occur almost daily, shows RTI reply

LiveMint logoLiveMint 08-05-2017 Elizabeth Roche

New Delhi: Almost daily violations of a 2003 ceasefire between India and Pakistan has claimed the lives of 23 Indian soldiers in 2015 and 2016, says a right to information or RTI response from the home ministry, according to a PTI report.

The RTI revelation from the home ministry comes just days after two Indian security personnel were killed and their bodies mutilated by Pakistani soldiers. The killing and mutilation of the bodies happened after heavy firing from the Pakistani side in violation of the ceasefire pact, which India says made it easier for the Pakistan Border Action Team (BAT)—comprised of militants and Pakistan army regulars—to infiltrate to the Indian side. 

With India holding the 2003 ceasefire as a major confidence building measure between the two countries, the almost daily violations of the ceasefire agreement does not make the atmosphere conducive for an India-Pakistan detente. According to New Delhi, ceasefire violations occur when Pakistan tries to help terrorists infiltrate into India. And any increase in infiltration means the possibility of increased violence in Kashmir and other parts of India. And India says terrorism and talks cannot go hand in hand.

Put all this together and chances of an India-Pakistan thaw seem next to impossible.

Ties between the two countries have been at a standstill since 2013 after two instances of ambushes by Pakistani BAT. The bodies of Indian soldiers ambushed were mutilated as well—which had prompted then prime minister of India Manmohan Singh to say that “it cannot be business as usual” with Pakistan— putting dialogue which restarted in 2011 after getting interrupted by the 2008 Mumbai attack—on hold. Singh who met Pakistan’s prime minister Nawaz Sharif in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in 2013 had discussed the ceasefire violations and described the 2003 pact as a key confidence building measure between the two countries.

Ceasefire violations have been a regular feature of India-Pakistan relations. Meanwhile, efforts to get dialogue started have been stalled by terrorist attacks. While India-Pakistan ties had warmed up towards the end of 2015 with Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and Prime minister Narendra Modi visiting Pakistan. But attacks by terrorists on the Pathankot, Uri and Nagrota military installations in India put paid to any hopes of a dialogue resuming.

With Pakistan heading for elections in 2018 and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif under pressure over the Panama papers—pertaining to allegations around three of Sharif’s four children using offshore companies to buy properties in London—any change in Pakistan’s current strategy towards India seems unlikely.

According to former foreign secretary Lalit Mansingh, “It looks like a long summer of difficult relations between India and Pakistan.”

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