Defence minister Arun Jaitley has done well to warn Pakistan that if it persists with its adventurism, Indian forces will make the cost of the rashness unaffordable for them. India should be ready for a long haul in the ongoing exchange of fire with Pakistan on the International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir. There should be no talks to de-escalate tension till Islamabad puts a complete stop to its cross-border misadventure of targeting civilians with mortar shells. The UPA government had been too soft towards Pakistan and allowed the Pakistanis to dictate terms. The NDA government must stand firm and not give in to Pakistan’s “coercive diplomacy”. Islamabad has let loose its firepower across the IB, which unlike the Line of Control (LoC) has settled populations and built-up areas on both sides, due to “sheer frustration” at repeatedly failing to internationalise the Kashmir issue. India should refuse to be bullied and stop all trade and cultural exchange with Pakistan till it mends its ways.
Nearly 30,000 people in India’s border districts have been displaced following one of the worst violations of the 2003 ceasefire by Pakistan which has left eight people dead and 80 injured, including nine security men. Many people from border villages have abandoned their homes to avoid being targeted by Pakistani shelling of civilian habitations in Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts. With such brazen violations of the ceasefire, India must warn the international community that it cannot guarantee non-escalation much though it wants durable peace.
So long as the hawkish Pakistan army continues to call the shots in that country, peace with India would be a mirage. If the fruits of democracy are to have any meaning, the army influence on public affairs would have to be curbed, come what may. Prime minister Narendra Modi is right when he says that the nation must meet the challenge as one and Indian politicians should desist from politicising ceasefire violations.