Futile Border Clashes

Nawaz Khan

25 February 2018

Every other day, newspaper reports talk of border clashes between Indian and Pakistani troops. The Times of India reported that ceasefire violations have reached a record level this year - over 400 in the first two months of 2018 alone. Often heavy artillery is used by one or both sides. Soldiers are killed routinely on both sides and sometimes civilians too.

Wives become widowed and children are left fatherless. The worst affected are civilians living near the border areas. They have to flee their homes during an artillery barrage and often return to devastation.

These border clashes have been continuing unabated since 2016. Matters appear to have escalated after the killing of the popular Kashmiri militant leader Burhan Wani in June 2016.

Pakistan Army stepped up its border attacks and tried to push through fresh batches of trained terrorists into Indian controlled space.

Matters came to a head with the announcement of a "surgical strikes"' by Indian forces on Pakistani positions across the Line of Control (LoC), a line that divides the state of Jammu & Kashmir.

In September 2016, India said that it had conducted "surgical strikes" against militant launch pads across the Line of Control in Pakistani-administered Azad Kashmir, and inflicted significant casualties, estimated between 35 and 50. This claim was of course denied by Pakistan which maintained that Indians had not crossed the border but skirmished on the LoC. Pakistan claimed only 2 casualties.

If the Indian Army had hoped this would stop Pakistan from fomenting trouble along the border or stop pushing in militants, it was clearly mistaken. The Pakistan Army chief made it clear that his troops would respond to any Indian action and would not be cowed down.

Thus, no strategic objective was met by the "surgical strikes"' and the off and on border skirmishes and artillery duels have continued. The latest theatre is the Uri sector in the Kashmir Valley's Baramulla district where hundreds are reported to have fled their homes after the Pakistan Army shouted through loudspeakers asking the locals to vacate.

The Pakistan Army continues to push in militants although with fearful losses. This does not cost Pakistan very much as the militants are cannon fodder indoctrinated by jihadi beliefs. A thousand militants killed on the borders mean nothing to Pakistan's generals.

But dead Kashmiri civilians and Indian Army soldiers are deeply mourned; their deaths are a great loss to the nation. One is reminded of the famous Bob Dylan song "how many deaths will it take till he knows, That too many people have died?"'

The answer is not with the wind but with the Pakistan Army chiefs. The whole world today looks at Pakistan as a rogue nation that breeds and deploys terrorists to further its aims of conquest of the Kashmir Valley and Afghanistan.

Thus, the killings will continue and the cannon balls will continue to fly across the borders.

Nawaz Khan, Luton

25 February 2018