October 2016 News

World Powers At Work To Defuse LoC Tension

2 October 2016
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Ajay Banerjee

New Delhi: With major global powers like the US, Russia and China urging India and Pakistan to resolve disputes and reduce tensions, the chances of escalation to the latest war-type hysteria are receding. In India, the calculation is that barring the usual firing across the Line of Control (LoC), matters will not escalate. But the guard is up as Pakistan could try a new tactic to counter the Indian Army's cross-LoC strike on terror camps on September 29. Though it may be too early to think of a dialogue, going by recent incidents, tensions have defused slowly. Almost a year after the Operation Parakaram (December 2001 to October 2002), Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had taken a call on opening a dialogue with Pakistan. The ceasefire along the LoC in November 2003 had been agreed upon. The composite dialogue had carried on 'well' for the next five years till the Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008. After the Mumbai attacks, it took several months for the first official engagement. As of now, Beijing has favoured direct bilateral talks between India and Pakistan to iron out the wrinkles. China holds an economic interest in both countries. It has a US $46 billion investment in the China-Pakistan economic corridor (CPEC) that connects its Xinjiang province (north of Kashmir) with Gawadar port in the Arabian Sea. This is road, rail and petroleum pipeline connection. With India, China has bilateral annual trade of nearly US $80 billion with India being a major market for China's exports. 'As for the tension between Pakistan and India, recently Chinese side has been in communication with both sides through different channels,' Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a media briefing in Beijing last week. New Delhi and Beijing had conducted pre-planned counter-terrorism and security dialogue and it happened after the September 18 terror attack on an Indian military establishment at Uri in northern Kashmir. Air Vice Marshall Kapil Kak (retd), a former fighter pilot who fought two wars with Pakistan, says, 'While being prepared in every way to respond potently to any reaction from Pakistan Army, we need to rework our arithmetic to initiate talks at the NSA level to begin with for restoration of a semblance of normality in bilateral relations.' Air Vice Marshal Kak, who has been a powerful voice among New Delhi's think-tanks and track-II diplomacy circles, cites the example of Vajpayee and his initiative to argue: 'Such an initiative would be a true indicator of India's maturation as a great power in the making'. The US, on its part, has asked Pakistan to close all terrorist safe havens and target all militant groups, including those that target neighbouring countries. India made a pitch at the UN for isolating nations that nurture, peddle and export terror. Russia has also supported the US and called upon both Pakistan and India to show restraint and resolve all the outstanding issues through peaceful means.