Pakistani troops violated the ceasefire on the Line of Control (LoC) for the first time since December 2013, when the Indian and Pakistani Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs) met at Wagah. Two such violations took place over the last week: the first was on the morning of Sunday, January 26, on India’s 65th Republic Day, and the other on Wednesday, January 29.
According to The Times of India, Sunday’s episode saw Pakistani troops firing unprovoked across the LoC for three hours. “Today [in the] morning at 6:15am, when it was dark, there was unprovoked firing from Pakistani side. They fired about three RPG rounds and small arms on to the Kaman post (in Uri sector) on the Indian side,” according to General Officer Commanding of 19 Infantry Division Major General Anil Chauhan.
Wednesday’s episode was similar – Pakistani troops fired small arms across the LoC towards Indian forward posts in Kashmir’s Poonch district. An Indian military public relations officer notes that the Indian troops returned fire during this incident. Overall, the exchange lasted five minutes with no casualties.Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.
In 2013, relations between India and Pakistan froze due to a constant spate of ceasefire violations. Indian sources report that Pakistan violated the LoC ceasefire 195 times last year – a dramatic increase from the 93 violations in 2012 (which was in turn a marked increase from the 51 and 44 annual violations in 2011 and 2010 respectively.)
The ceasefire violations demonstrate a lack of coordination between Pakistan’s military and civilian leaders in their interactions with India – and even a lack of coordination within the Pakistani military. Over the past month or so, high-level interaction between India and Pakistan has been encouraging. The two agreed to reduce barriers to cross-border trade, and though underwhelming, the rare meeting between the DGMOs of both sides indicated that ceasefire violations would not occur at the same frequency with which they did during 2013.
Prior to the ceasefire violations this past week, warming relations hit a road bump when Indian police seized over 100 kg of heroin inbound to India from Pakistan, which prompted Pakistan to cease all cross-border trade with India across the LoC. Observers of the complex India-Pakistan relationship should note that despite the seeming clarity between civilian leaders at the higher levels, events such as the drug bust and continued ceasefire violations can derail carefully planned strategic attempts at building peace.
Between the two ceasefire violation incidents last week, news emerged that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is finally planning to travel to Pakistan sometime in March 2014 to resume the long-stalled Composite Dialogue Process with Pakistan. The success of those talks will be limited given that Singh is at the end of his tenure as PM and can’t credibly commit India’s next government (which is likely to not be run by the Congress Party) to any sort of action vis-a-vis Pakistan. Should ceasefire violations continue, any success with the Composite Dialogue Process appears all the more unlikely.