Eid Clashes In Kashmir, Visa Row, LoC Firing: India-Pakistan Ties Are Back To Square One

18 July 2015

New Delhi: Just over a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi met his Pakistani counterpart at Ufa in Russia, reviving hopes of improved relations between the two countries, things have taken a sharp turn for the worse. Days after the meet, the Pakistan Army claimed to have shot down an 'Indian spy drone'. The incident was followed by aggressive ceasefire violations at the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir. India responded saying that the drone Pakistan has cited is not used by our country. More significantly, it said it will retaliate fittingly to cross-border firing. Pakistan, on its part, has stepped up the attack and seems to be aiming for a joint diplomatic-cum-military offensive. India has now alleged that Pakistan has refused to issue visas to 12 Indian officials, including a defence attache. Pakistan has hit back, saying that it is India which has refused to grant visas to 16 of their officials. According to NDTV, a Pakistan 'source' told PTI: 'It is, unfortunately, the Indian side which links issuance of visa to everything else. Pakistan has recently issued several assignment visas to Indian officials but none were issued by India. Visas to our diplomats and officials, including air and naval attaches, are stuck with India now for many months.' Hindustan Times quotes a Pakistani source as saying, 'Permission to our kids for school trips are also denied.' However, Indian officials have rubbished the claims, saying that the visas of only five Pakistani officials are under process; the rest have been granted visas. On the other hand, they complained that Pakistan has 'inordinately delayed' visas for 12 Indian officials. Times Now reports that Pakistan continues to violate the ceasefire agreement on the Line of Control and there have been multiple violations in the last 56 hours. Pakistani troops have been pounding the RS Pura and Tawi belts over the past two days, prompting residents of the areas to flee their villages. To complicate matters, protests have broken out in Jammu and Kashmir over the continued house arrest of hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani. ANI reports: 'According to reports, Geelani was not allowed to offer prayers in a mosque on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr as he remained under house arrest since his return from New Delhi on April 15. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had yesterday filed a charge-sheet against two separatist leaders associated with the hardline faction of the Hurriyat Conference, claiming their alleged involvement in funding terror activities.' The incident sparked an orchestrated protest. Several reports suggest that protesters clashed with the police, pelted them with stones and raised anti-India slogans. Some protesters also hoisted ISIS and Pakistani flags in Kashmir. Police countered the mob with teargas shells. At around 9 in the morning today (18 July), Geelani posted a tweet claiming that massive anti-India protests have been staged in Sopore. Adding fuel to fire, a BJP leader has now demanded that Jammu and Kashmir should impose a shoot-at-sight order against anyone who waves Pakistani or ISIS flags in Jammu and Kashmir. The Indian Express quotes BJP leader Ravinder Raina as saying, 'The Jammu and Kashmir government must take action against such elements and all these pro-Pakistani elements must be arrested. In fact, I believe that shoot-at-sight orders must be issued against such people.' The orchestrated unrest in Kashmir seems to have taken its cue from the souring of diplomatic talks between the two countries. India's political parties too have joined the cacophony by condemning the Pakistan government and questioning the Modi government's foreign policy. Former Congress MP and spokesperson Manish Tewary told Times Now, 'The Pakistan PM doesn't seem to have enough gravitas... and why did PM Modi meet him at UFA?' Following a brief interlude of peace, India-Pakistan ties seem to have gone back to square one - a situation of mutual mistrust and recriminations. At a press conference yesterday, foreign secretary S Jaishankar had said, 'We remain committed to peace. But there should be no doubt that unprovoked firing from Pakistan will result in retaliation from India.' That has been India's stance on Pakistan for a while now, barring a few days following PM Modi's swearing-in. Looks like there is no radical change in sight soon.