Pakistan’s breaching of the Line of Control has the potential to snowball into a major issue and endanger Indo-Pak relations. Exchange of fire along the border is a regular affair between hostile neighbours, but the way Pakistan army intruders sneaked in under the cover of dense fog and killed two Indian soldiers in Poonch district of Jammu deserve condemnation.
In an unprovoked act, that can also be construed as territorial aggrandisement, they went 100m into India and crawled back to their country with blood on their hands.
The brutal murders of the two Indian soldiers prove beyond doubt that intruders from the neighbouring country do not have moral scruples. How does Pakistan’s interior minister Rehman Malik propose to respond to this act, especially since during his recent India visit, he had vehemently rubbished India’s claims that an Indian armyman, Saurab Kalia, was tortured and mutilated during the 1999 Kargil conflict? Malik had tried to wriggle out then, blaming the weather for Kalia’s mangled corpse. Will it be dense fog this time, slicing up tough-as-nails army personnel?
Realistically speaking, what did Pakistan gain from this intrusion? Is this a crude display of might in response to Indian firing a couple of days ago, or an attempt to needle India after a relative lull in cross-border terrorism? Though India’s relations with her neighbour haven’t been particular rosy, and Malik’s visit didn’t improve matters much, there was still a glimmer of hope that trade between the two countries, and a common agenda of eradicating terrorism will bring the countries closer. The “liberalised visa regime” was also a step in the right direction, but whatever little has been achieved has every chance of being destroyed by this hostile act. The Indian army calls it a “significant escalation”, which means it is not going to forget this episode any time soon.
What India should come up with is a strong political response at the local (South Asian-level) and global level. Manmohan Singh and Co must turn the heat on Pakistan’s political establishment and make it accountable for its army’s actions? If Pakistan is a functioning democracy as it claims itself to be, then it’s army is bound to listen to its political bosses, who have a lot of answering to do now.