Conflict Alerts # 192, 19 November 2020
In the news
During the last week, there were a series of firing along the LoC. On 13 November 2020, according to a report in the Hindu, "At least eight Pakistani soldiers were killed and 12 others injured on Friday after Indian Army pounded several of their positions along the Line of Control (LoC) in north Kashmir with anti-tank guided missiles and artillery guns in response to unprovoked ceasefire violations in multiple locations by troops of the neighbouring country." The following day, on 14 November, India condemned the firing and said, "It is highly deplorable that Pakistan chose a festive occasion in India to disrupt peace and perpetrate violence in J&K through coordinated firing along the length of the LoC using heavy caliber weapons, including artillery and mortar, on Indian civilians."
On 13 November, the Hindu, quoting an official data stated, that during 2020, Pakistan has resorted to 4,052 incidents of ceasefire violations ( in 2019 there were 3,233 violations).
On 14 November 2020, Dawn reported about "unprovoked and indiscriminate" firing by the Indian troops, killing five civilians and a solider. On the same day, Pakistan's foreign minister, along with the Director-General of Pakistan's Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) gave a press conference accusing India of "fanning State terrorism". Both claimed to have irrefutable evidence against India. Presenting a dossier on the subject, Shah Mahmood Qureshi said: "The state that used to say that it was the world's biggest democracy is [now] becoming a rogue state through its activities. We have information and evidence on the basis of which I can say India is fanning state terrorism. India has prepared a plan to destabilize Pakistan… Today, we have undeniable evidence and we want to show it in the form of this dossier to the nation and the world." According to the DG-ISPR said, "the recent upsurge in violence in Pakistan is a direct consequence of Indian's intensified engagements with all brands of terrorists, sub-nationalists and dissidents operating against Pakistan."
Issues in the background
First, the continuation of ceasefire violations across the Line of Control (LoC) between India and Pakistan. The ceasefire that was agreed by both the countries in 2004 along the LoC has witnessed regular violations during recent years. Both India and Pakistan have been accusing each other for violating the LoC. India accuses Pakistan of using firing along the LoC as a screen to push militants into the Indian side of J&K, while Pakistan has been accusing India of unprovoked and indiscriminate violence.
Second, the disruption of peace along with the LoC villages. Since the ceasefire in 2004, villages along the LoC were witnessing normalcy. Local farmers resumed working on their lands, schools opened, and related regular activities resumed on both sides of the LoC. The new round of violence affects the return of normalcy and bring the fear of breakdown of regular life.
Third, Pakistan's new dossier on India's role in fanning terrorism, as a part of building a new narrative. During the recent years, there has been a debate within Pakistan to create a new narrative, that would counter the existing one linking Islamabad's policies with terrorism. The debate in the FATF has also brought a new reality to Pakistan at the global level, on how rest of the world looks at Islamabad's role in curbing terrorism, with a special focus on legal and financial measures. Pakistan has been placed under the "grey list" for long.
Fourth, Pakistan's new case against India since capturing Kulbushan Yadav. Pakistan has been trying to implicate India – to a local and global audience, that India is the problem. Pakistan looks at this as an opportunity to counter India's dossier since the Mumbai attacks in 2008.
First, India and Pakistan returning to a political table look bleak, with both countries accusing each other. While Islamabad has been insisting on negotiations, its actions – from its increased political rhetoric on J&K to the new dossier, does not give an impression, that Pakistan is making the environment conducive for a political approach. On the other hand, New Delhi has not responded so far with any hints that it is considering a return to a political table. It insists on terrorism and violence sponsored by Pakistan has to stop before any attempt towards a meaningful dialogue.
Second, with an increasing presence of China inside Pakistan, and a political divide between China and India, Beijing is becoming a factor in India-Pakistan relations. While New Delhi wants Beijing away from India-Pakistan bilateral relationship, Islamabad would want to bring China inside the bilateral equation.
Third, developments within J&K is likely to complicate any future India-Pakistan dialogue. India has made constitutional changes to J&K. On the other hand, there has been discussion within Pakistan to provide a provincial status to Gilgit Baltistan and make it as its fifth province. This would mean new actors and new issues when India and Pakistan decide to restart the political dialogue.