NEW DELHI: The guns are relatively silent lately along the International Border (IB) since June in Jammu and Kashmir, with not even a single ceasefire violation this month so far. Security experts and observers say the Pakistan general election, scheduled on July 25, is a big factor for this peace as the polling exercise requires political as well as military energy redirected internally.
The current scenario is in contrast with the first five months this year. Consider this: The Border Security Force (BSF) lost 11 men to cross-firing incidents - the highest in the last five years. Till May, there was over 300 per cent increase in cross-firing along the IB. All in all, 487 Cross-Firing Violations (CFVs) have taken place this year, resulting in injuries to 40 BSF personnel.
In comparison, a total of 111 unprovoked cross-border firing instances took place last year along this front while the figures were 204 (in 2016), 350 (in 2015) and 127 (in 2014). According to government data accessed by The Sunday Standard, 36 cross-firings took place in June. In comparison, 247 such incidents occurred in May. In July, there has been no such so far along the IB.
Former Navy officer and director at Centre for Security & Strategy, India Foundation, Alok Bansal says Pakistan wants to channelise all its resources only on the election which is leading to drop in CFVs.
“At this time, Pakistan doesn’t want any violence. More importantly, a large number of their troops are deployed on election duty at different places. Their military is overstressed at this point as they are hugely involved in the election preparations. In addition, what has happened is that they are under greater scrutiny because of Financial Action Task Force (FATF). So, they want to play safe.”
In June, the FATF had placed Pakistan on the grey list for failing to curb anti-terror financing.
“Also, there were serious terrorist attacks like in Baluchistan and Peshawar. Their military has to counter such attacks. Therefore, peace on the border is in their favour,” Bansal says. Retired Colonel Anil Athale, the former joint director of war history at the Defence Ministry, agrees that the Pakistan election is a factor for dip in CFVs but adds that the recent discussion by two DGMOs also led to improvement in the situation. “The idea behind the firings from our side is to punish Pakistan for infiltration. Now that they have reduced infiltration and firing, we have also reduced firing,” he says.