‘Neutral’ website launched to monitor ceasefire violations along Pakistan-India border


NEW DELHI: With ceasefire violations across the Line of Control (LoC) continuing to escalate, Indian experts are largely pessimistic on whether there will be any drop in the number of incidents, even as they agree that communication could be strengthened at the brigade and division level between the two armies, The Wire reports.

Diplomacy experts expressed these views while they were discussing the reasons for the rise in ceasefire violations at the launch of a new website, Indo-Pak Conflict Monitor, on Saturday.

The website will be monitoring these violations on a daily basis from open source data, study the emerging patterns and act as a valuable repository. It will also be a resource for analysing the larger Pakistan-India conflict.

As per official data gathered from the media reporting the violations in both countries, there were 583 and 315 ceasefire violations reported by India and Pakistan respectively in 2014. This has shot up to 860 and 1970 by India and Pakistan in 2017.

This year, India has already reported 192 violations in the first month of 2018, while Pakistan has listed 400 violations till February 2018.

Opening the discussion, former Indian ambassador Vivek Katju, who had manned the Pakistan desk during his diplomatic tenure, said ceasefire violations should not be “looked at in an isolated way” in the Pakistan-India conflict.

Former commander of the Indian army, Lieutenant General (r) Syed Ata Hasnain, said that it was a wrong assumption that all the firing by Pakistan across the LoC was to give cover for infiltration. Rather, many of the violations took place in the Poonch and Rajouri sector, where terrorism levels had been zero.

He noted that the violations demonstrate that all of the Kashmir valley was under the constant spectre of violence.

The reason that more fighters have been infiltration in the valley, said the formers senior Indian army officer, was to fill up the leadership vacuum among the militant organisations.

Raising the question whether the ‘LoC duels’ have any purpose, Hasnain noted that it would be foolish to consider this as the staging post for a ‘war’ with Pakistan. “But it gives you the scope to maintain moral ascendancy,” he argued.

He asserted that there was certainly a valid case for strengthening local-level communications between the militaries stationed at the LoC.

“It will allow commanding officers and brigade commanders to speak with each other and resolve the issue… At least allow the setting up of a flag meeting,” he said.

Senior Indian journalist Nirupama Subramaniam pointed out that among the “global hot spots”, the India-Pakistan border was unique in incurring almost daily fatalities. She pointed out that 20 people had died on each side this year alone.

“At what moment does a politician say that enough people have died at the LoC and now we have to sit down and arrest the slide?” she questioned.

Agreeing that there was not much political incentive to resolve the deteriorating situation, Indo-Pak Conflict Monitor’s honorary director and project head, Happymon Jacob, said that the violations were increasingly linked to political factors.

Jacob, who had got access to Pakistani side of the LoC in December 2017, said that his discussions showed that there was a “lot more pressure” on the Pakistan army from the civilians at the zero line to sit down and resolve the issue.