India-Pakistan Border Drama: Seeking Answers
Image Credit: flickr/ NotMicroButSoft

India-Pakistan Border Drama: Seeking Answers


Over the last few years Indo-Pakistani ties had been improving greatly. Now, all the goodwill that had been built up over this time appears to have been eliminated by a “runaway grandma.”  

The killing of two Indian soldiers at the Line of Control(LOC)— the line that separates two parts of Kashmir and acts as a de facto border between India and Pakistan— several days ago, has quickly revived animosity between the two nations. The episode actually began last Sunday when Pakistan said Indian troops had killed one of its troops and critically injured another in a “cross-border raid” that Delhi denied having made. Then, on Tuesday, New Delhi blamed Pakistani border guards for the brutal deaths of two Indian soldiers— one of whom had been beheaded—an allegation that Islamabad vehemently denied. This was followed two days later by the death of another Pakistani solider, which Islamabad says had not been provoked but India maintains happened when its troops returned fire after having been shot at.

Amidst this blame game the truth is lost, with the fog of war making it all but impossible to ascertain which side is at fault. This doesn’t make passion on both sides any less intense as evidenced by many Indian news outlets challenging the very raison d'etre of holding peace talks with Pakistan.

A notable exception is The Hindu which, after carefully constructing the events leading up to this week, is actually blaming Delhi for violating the ceasefire agreement at the LoC.  A front page article the paper ran late this week reconstructs the events leading up to the deaths through accounts given to it by unnamed army officials. It writes that in early September a 70-year old Indian woman crossed over the border to spend her final days with her children, who had crossed the borders years earlier to escape prosecution for border smuggling. This woman’s border crossing brought vulnerabilities in the LoC to the attention of Indian troops, who began constructing border outposts in violation of the 2003 LoC ceasefire agreement as a means of addressing these vulnerabilities.

Not surprisingly, Pakistani troops protested the violation of the ceasefire and demanded that construction of the border posts cease immediately. Those calls went unheeded. As a result, in October Pakistani troops began firing on the new outposts with mortar fire and automatic weapons, missing all Indian troops but killing three nearby villagers, the oldest of whom was 25-years-old while the youngest was in ninth grade, according to The Hindu.

Things remained tense after that with the two sides occasionally exchanging fire. After one such exchange on January 6 an Indian commander, Gulab Singh Rawat, sought and obtained permission to take aggressive action against Pakistan troops that were targeting the soldiers under his command. The result was Tuesday’s killing of a Pakistani border guard, with another one being critically injured.

Pakistan has proposed establishing a UN-monitored probe to investigate the incident. India has refused. Meanwhile, Thursday’s brutal killing of two Indian soldiers has provoked outrage throughout most the country.

There is some reason for optimism, however. Notably, even while giving the Pakistani envoy in the country a “dressing down,” members of the government have sought to calm passions at home, with External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid arguing, "We cannot and must not allow escalation of this very unwholesome event that has taken place.”

His Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khan welcomed the statement.

This makes the media’s role in whipping up public angry all the more condemnable. These actions only impede a return to normalcy which is in every person in India and Pakistan’s interest. This is especially true of India given that the stability of South Asia and how well it manages its neighborhood will go a long way towards determining its standing in the world.

In many ways, people’s anger over these tragic deaths is understandable. The media has a responsibility to help rein in this anger lest it lead to further escalation and more tragedies. In this role it is failing miserably and it is time for it to reserve course.

June 2, 2013 at 01:23

@jahan: Pakistan never invaded India, the 1965 war was an extension of an already ongoing conflict in Kashmir that India started and which India is responsible for prolonging in violation of the UN resolution calling for the plebiscite. It was India who split Pakistan in half in 1971 completely unprovoked, and invaded and occupied Siachen also completely unprovoked and in violation of the same Shimla Accords that India itself had forced Pakistan to sign in 1972. As for the Pakistani army being unable to safeguard its bases from militants, a two-minute Google search will prove your claim false. Pakistan is not destabilizing India, Pakistan doesn't sponsor separatist and terrorist elements from consulates in Burma or Nepal. You Indians really should listen to yourselves when you post your propaganda that can't withstand even a moment's scrutiny.

June 2, 2013 at 01:23

@ariel: The Indian army has already flatly denied that Pakistani soldiers beheaded anyone in the clashes of January 2013. The real reason India backed down was because it suffered a humiliating diplomatic defeat at the hands of Pakistan, who offered a full investigation under the auspices of the UN, which India refused because it was afraid its own role in starting those clashes would have been exposed. India is the one who constantly tries to keep the UN out of Kashmir while Pakistan always fully cooperates with that body. Consider that next time you make any false accusations against Pakistan.

March 28, 2013 at 16:20

What else do you expect from Indians. Pakistan invaded India repeatedly and got his hands burnt and continuously trying to destabilize India. Now they are so scared of India (even though India did not retaliate with full power) that they are overstretching their Army over Indian border even when they are not able to safeguard their own miltiary bases from their own militants ..LOL

Just think about it Pak…Utilising your meagre resoures to destabilize India costs the entire Pak dearly just to satisfy false ego of some extremists.

January 17, 2013 at 08:59

The Pakis across the border expect India and its people to turn a blind eye to the gruesome beheadings of its soldiers on the LOC. If the situation has de-escalated today, it is largely due to the public opinion and pressure on the Indian Government to send a stern warning of retaliation to Pakistan. And it is not for the Foreign Minister to talk about peace when the Paki forces from across the border go ahead with flagrant violations of the cease fire on the LOC and with barbarism. Media acted merely as a messenger between the public who were anguished and the government who appeared to be insensitive to the barbaric acts of the Pakis.

January 16, 2013 at 12:28

Well article, people in India are just taken for a ride by crazy media especially TOI, The Hindu is India's best newspaper. People in India are more rightist and hate-filled than any other neighbour

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