Perils of unannounced war on LoC

Altaf Wani Islamabad, November 19 (KMS): Over the past several years the Line of Control (LoC) has been on the boil. An unannounced war imposed by India is going on unabated. Bombing and shelling on the civilian population by the Indian troops have been a regular feature of the life near 740-kilometer long bloody ceasefire […]

Perils of unannounced war on LoC
Altaf Wani Islamabad, November 19 (KMS): Over the past several years the Line of Control (LoC) has been on the boil. An unannounced war imposed by India is going on unabated. Bombing and shelling on the civilian population by the Indian troops have been a regular feature of the life near 740-kilometer long bloody ceasefire line, chosen by India’s fascist regime as a new battle-field to achieve its sinister designs in the region. Unfortunately, the consequences of this silent war and its devastating impact on the lives of native people have gone largely unnoticed. Along with the potential of triggering a nuclear confrontation, this reckless violence is making life hell for the civilians settled in villages and towns along the LoC who have witnessed long spells of dreadful violence due to the ceasefire violations committed by the Indian forces. During the recent spate of Indian shelling in the Neelum Valley six civilians and a soldier of the Pakistan Army embraced martyrdom while two soldiers and at least nine civilians were wounded in AJK after Indian troops resorted to indiscriminate and ruthless shelling from across the (LoC) past midnight without any provocation. Nearly 30% of total population of Azad Jammu and Kashmir lives in these highly volatile areas. Being at the edge of conflict, the long spells of violence have hit hard the lives of the common people in these highly vulnerable areas especially the Neelum, Leepa, and Jhelum valley, Farward Khota, Tatrinote, Nikyal and other areas that has witnessed a series of dreadful attacks by the Indian Army this year. As a result, hundreds of residential houses, vehicles, cattle-sheds, even schools, hospitals and places of worship (mosques) were destroyed and demolished due to the targeted shelling by the Indian troops from across the LoC. A perpetual and pervasive threat of aggression from India has caused displacement of the economically disadvantaged and downtrodden segment of the society on both sides of the line of control. The most depressing aspect of this dirty war is that Indian troops have been using civilian population as a human shield to protect themselves from any possible reaction and response from the Pakistani side. Knowing that Pakistani side won’t target their installations in populated areas, the Indian Army is reported to have relocated its heavy artillery near densely populated areas and at some places in the middle of local population on other side of the LoC. The main aim and objective was to blame Pakistan for any civilian casualty and loss of property but India’s sinister plan was shortly exposed when people at Manzgam, Chokibal and Dardpora and Thandipora villages staged a protest against this anomaly. The incident was widely reported in local and international media wherein people revealed to the pressmen that the Indian Army was using them as human shields, which constitutes a serious crime under international law. But the fact remains that the restraint and responsibility showed by the Pakistan Army has emboldened the Indians to undertake attacks to spill the blood of innocent civilians. While the realpolitik is steering the dynamics of the Kashmir conflict no one even bothers to talk about these war crimes being committed with impunity by the Indian forces. The absence of proper on-ground monitoring system has further aggravated the situation in the region since the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) that was mandated to supervise ceasefire violations on the LoC has been rendered virtually dysfunctional by the Indian government due to its noncooperation with the UN observers stationed in Srinagar, the capital city of Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK). On the contrary, the Pakistan Army on its part has continued to lodge complaints with UNMOGIP about ceasefire violations. The military authorities of India have not lodged any complaint since January 1972 and have restricted the activities of the UN observers near the LoC in IIOJK. Not allowing the observer mission to supervise the ceasefire violations, India, instead, choose to stick to its traditional policy of blaming Pakistan by paddling lies and trumpeting its so-called ‘counter-insurgency narrative’. The historic 2003 ceasefire agreement that survived for over a decade has been instrumental in curbing cross-LoC violence in the region but this agreement too was thrown to the winds soon after the Modi government took over reins of power in New Delhi. Since then, there has been an upsurge in the incidents of ceasefire violations. According to statistics provided by Pakistan’s foreign ministry, and the State Disaster Management Authority Government of Azad Kashmir, the ceasefire has been violated by India at least 2,730 times this year, resulting in 21 civilian deaths and serious injuries to 206 others. Apart from fomenting trouble and creating instability on this side of the LoC, the Indian Army is raising tensions on the ceasefire line to deflect world attention away from the aggravating humanitarian situation in IIOJK. The antagonistic approach and senseless targeting of innocent civilians would further, vitiate the tense atmosphere along the LoC and threaten regional peace and security. It is high time that the world must take effective notice of this reckless war imposed by India and force the government of India to resolve the lingering Kashmir dispute that happens to be the mother of all disputes pending between India and Pakistan. (Writer is Chairman Kashmir Institute of International Relations and Senior Vice-Chairman Jammu Kashmir National Front and can be reached at saleeemwani@hotmail.com & chairman@kiir.org.pk)