National and International Issues

Increasing CFVs on LoC: What is India Up To

In recent weeks, there have been an increasing number of Indian ceasefire violations (CFVs) on the Line of Control (LoC) by India, along with propaganda warfare. Its latest provocations have to do with spy quadcopters which were launched across the LoC in Rakhchikri and Nekru Sectors – the former about 650 meters and later 700 meters inside our territory. Both were shot down by troops of Pakistan Army. India has lately included Gilgit-Baltistan in the daily weather report of its state-owned TV, which is not without a purpose. The CPEC passes through this region and UK’s Labour Party, which has a substantial following amongst Kashmiris from Mirpur (Azad Kashmir), has been voicing support for the fundamental rights of Kashmiri people. 


All this has synergized into Indian intensification of CFVs – a convenient vent to ease the pressure since it has hyped up anti-Pakistan sentiments amongst its hardcore rightwing Hinduvta cadre to such a high pitch that it now finds it difficult to tone it down. These incidents of cross-border firings also divert global and domestic attention from India’s state-terrorism, egregious human rights violations, and denial of basic human rights in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.



These CFVs and the unholy nexus between RAW and NDS for subversive activities in Balochistan, with an escape route for its terrorists to neighboring Iran, and Afghanistan is a threat to Pakistan’s national security. Prime Minister Imran Khan, for some time now, has been warning the world about this dangerous trend and termed it as India’s dangerous agenda to find one pretext or another for some sort of an absurd false flag operation – like in the past which could not only jeopardize regional peace but almost certainly have all the potential for events to spin out of control.     
There have been baseless allegations from hawkish Indian Defense Minister, Mr. Rajnath Singh and Army Chief M. M. Naravane and other officials about so called ‘terrorist launchpads’ in Azad Kashmir. Strangely enough, with all the capability in satellite imagery, it has not been able to produce a shred of evidence in support of its claims. Nor does Indian political and military leadership seem to have learnt any lessons from its past such misadventures, such as Balakot, where India and Pakistan, in a matter of hours, climbed up the escalation ladder from where it became difficult for either side to deescalate and called for foreign powers intervention.
Pakistan is not the only country with whom India has been engaged in spiking up border tensions. It has antagonized Nepal, a country in existence for over 240 years and the only other Hindu state in the world. They have a border dispute since long due to un-marked border in Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura areas but India surreptiously built a road leading to Lipulekh which was inaugurated with much fanfare by its Defence Minsiter Mr. Rajnath on May 8, 2020. Nepal has claimed through historical maps that at least 17 kilometers of it lies in its territory.  


In February, before the full force of COVID-19 struck, the OIC urged India to end violence against Muslims. Only a year ago, India was slowly and steadily making an ingress in OIC when its Foreign Minister was invited to its moot as observer. Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan went even further, asking India to end the massacre of Muslims in India, a language which was then repeated by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. Kuwait also has condemned violence against Muslims and reaction of the Gulf Coordination Council (GCC) may not be much different.


India has been openly opposing Pak-China CPEC project and making ominous infrastructure development moves to pose a threat to this project. The most significant one has been construction of a road passing through Ladakh, leading to Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO), from where Gilgit-Baltistan, Karakoram Pass and areas of Aksai Chin are vulnerable. 
There had been an incident in 2014 also between the two countries on infrastructure development near DBO which was resolved. India’s amendment to its constitution on August 5, 2020, which also called the disputed territory of Ladakh as India’s Union Territory, however, left no doubt about its intentions, and to safeguard its national interest, its troops entered in strength in Ladakh and pitched tents, established check posts and fortified defenses.
Pakistan has done well to formally offer the United Nations to approach India for obtaining information of alleged launchpads and share the same with UNMOGIP, who will be welcomed to move into any area without sharing specifics with the Pakistan government to validate Indian claims.  But as in the past, India is unlikely to respond to this most sensible and logical proposal.
India is deliberately shying away from unmistakable correlation between state repression in Jammu and Kashmir and intensification of resistance by disenchanted Kashmiri population. It is dangerously and unwisely resorting to heating up the LoC and the Working Boundary in the false hope of diverting global attention from its illegal occupation of Kashmir and gross human rights violations of its people. The routine human right abuses and disrespect of homes by Indian army for years have complicated the Kashmir problem for India, which is too stubborn to understand the historiography of Kashmiri people. 
What is happening in Kashmir today is the complete transformation of its mostly peaceful population of past decades into an aggressive and assertive indigenous resistance against Indian occupation and brutalization of its people. The image of a non-violent Kashmir of the past is ironically encouraging India’s security establishment and political leadership to new levels of brutalities with the aim of subduing their spirit, but it is all proving counterproductive.
What has rattled India in recent weeks is the ratio of its security personnel killed versus the casualities suffered by Kashmiri youth. For the first time in April 2020, this ratio has been reduced to 1:1.8 (one Indian army soldier killed against 1.8 Kashmiri freedom fighters). In May 2020, it came down further to 1:1, and in one encounter on May 4, the tables were turned on Indians when Kashmiri youth killed three CPRF personnel without losing any of its own. If this becomes the new norm, even without declaration of ‘Jihad’ by Kashmiri leaders, India will be in real trouble.  


Instead of seeing reason, India is on a dangerous trajectory with its reckless and increased number of CFVs and if it keeps climbing up this escalatory ladder, a stage may eventually come where Pakistan’s one-sided restraint policy to diffuse border tensions may not be able to contain the dynamics.


Externally, India’s declared foreign policy of isolating Pakistan and its delicate balancing act between Sunni Gulf states and a Shia Iran – the former for its energy needs and remittances from expatriates to the tune of USD 80 billion annually and later for North South rail and road grid out of Chabahar to Afghanistan and Central Asia which could strategically facilitate the Indian Navy to outflank Pakistan’s maritime interests around Gwadar – is faltering under the weight of increasing resentment on Arab streets due to India’s treatment of its Muslim population. There could be further spillover effect in Southeast Asia’s Muslim majority states Malaysia and Indonesia.
Pakistan has been successful in its counter diplomatic offensive to highlight and link India’s blunder of Citizenship (Amendment) Act, its identifying of attendees of Tablighi Jamaat in Delhi as spreaders of COVID-19 virus, and large-scale abuse of Muslim population in Uttar Pradesh (UP), where BJP is the ruling party, as state sponsored pogrom against Muslims. 
This made it difficult for the Muslim world to turn a blind eye anymore where not long-ago Prime Minister Modi was honored with highest national awards. Centuries ago invading Muslim warriors had smashed idols at mandirs (temples) in Hindustan but now there has been construction of grand mandirs in the heart of Islam, where Arab officials would chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ in full public view alongside Hindu Pundits during inaugurations. There had also been promises of huge investments in India from Saudi Arabia and UAE. In short, Modi couldn’t have had it any better but then the tide began to change and his publically stated policy of isolating Pakistan began to falter.  
In February, before the full force of COVID-19 struck, the OIC urged India to end violence against Muslims. Only a year ago, India was slowly and steadily making an ingress in OIC when its Foreign Minister was invited to its moot as observer. Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan went even further, asking India to end the massacre of Muslims in India, a language which was then repeated by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. Kuwait also has condemned violence against Muslims and reaction of the Gulf Coordination Council (GCC) may not be much different. 
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in its report recommended to State Department to designate India as a ‘country of particular concern’. To make matters worse, Arab activists on social media are excoriating Indian government for fuelling and encouraging ‘Islamophobia’, a raw nerve which Prime Minister Imran Khan had touched at last year’s UN General Assembly session.
All this has synergized into Indian intensification of CFVs – a convenient vent to ease the pressure since it has hyped up anti-Pakistan sentiments amongst its hardcore rightwing Hinduvta cadre to such a high pitch that it now finds it difficult to tone it down. These incidents of cross-border firings also divert global and domestic attention from India’s state-terrorism, egregious human rights violations, and denial of basic human rights in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. 
For decades after 9/11 in 2001, India had been slamming Pakistan with baseless allegations of sponsoring terrorism which went well with international audience till such time Pakistan effectively stemmed the tide of terrorism on its soil and the world started acknowledging its sacrifices. But with weakening of Al-Qaeda and ISIL worldwide and bogie of terrorism pushed off center stage, international relations are returning to its erstwhile moorings of human rights with an uncomfortable spotlight on India. Instead of seeing reason, India is on a dangerous trajectory with its reckless and increased number of CFVs and if it keeps climbing up this escalatory ladder, a stage may eventually come where Pakistan’s one-sided restraint policy to diffuse border tensions may not be able to contain the dynamics. We have a proverbial ‘mad elephant’ in the neighborhood. Both India and Pakistan are impoverished countries and need not go to yet another disastrous war. But we have a proverbial ‘mad elephant’ in the neighborhood and need to keep our gunpowder dry.


The writer is a retired Vice Admiral of Pakistan Navy.
E-mail: [email protected]

         

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