The 740 kilometer Line of Control (LoC) has been in the news repeatedly over this year. First, there was the be-heading of two Indian soldiers near Mendher that shocked India’s public. And then in August an attack, carrying the stamp of the Pakistan Army, left a few Indian soldiers dead near Poonch. And as the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan were meeting in New York, the Indian army was battling a major infiltration bid in the Keren sector. Thus, whatever the grand designs of Dr Manmohan Singh and Mr Nawaz Sharief for the two countries, they agreed that the litmus test for them lies in restoring the cease fire, along this Line of Control, or else it could threaten whatever the earlier peace processes have achieved.
Therefore, in a move that could have significant implications for civil military relations in both countries, it has been agreed that the Directors General of Military Operations (DGMOs) will now meet for the first time, in many decades, to discuss and find ways to contain, and possibly completely stop the firing on the LoC. Originally known as the ceasefire line (CFL) agreed upon on 01 Jan’ 1949 following the first Indo-Pak war (1947-48) in J&K, and later modified and redesignated as the Line of Control in June 1972, after the 1971 war and Shimla Pact, the LoC is a divide that has been respected even by the Pakistani Army, with the exception of the 1999 Kargil mis-adventure, orchestrated by Musharraf and a handful of Generals. But while Musharraf had pushed in troops to challenge the sanctity of the LoC, Pakistan (specifically a helpless Nawaz Sharief) was ironically instructed by President Clinton to respect the sanctity of the LoC, seen as a de-facto border between the two countries.
This idea that the DGMOs should restore peace has now come from Pakistan. Some say, it’s powerful army wants a say in future bi-lateral arrangements. Be that as it may, it is essential to have them on board, as the Pakistan Army calls the shots on its Kashmir policy, as it does on the nuclear issue and in its engagements with its neighbours and the US. The challenge is for the Indian army to match up. While it enjoys operational freedom on the LoC and in even J& K, India’s army operates strictly under political control. And thus while the Pakistani DGMO will be able to offer deliverables, (if he isn’t embarrassed for the well known nexus between his army and the numerous Jehadi groups that target India), his Indian counterpart could at best give a commitment to show restraint even when provoked by cross their border fire and attacks, as a start.
But in the long run, both sides should agree on more contact between the military commanders of both countries, with hot lines between all Brigade, Division and Corps commanders on both sides of the LoC and frequent meetings to ensure greater understanding to prevent escalations. There is however a big stumbling block in India, that our military men face. It is the resistance from India’s diplomatic and bureaucratic combine, who are adamant in keeping our military from playing a bigger role in national security issues. But they would do well to learn a lesson from Indo-Pak history.
The arrangements that have stood the test of time between our two countries, have had the Pakistan Army as a signatory, such as the agreements on the Cease Fire Line and later the Line of Control. Even, the Indus Water Treaty was implemented by General Ayub Khan. But if they don’t sign an agreement, they refuse to respect it, as we saw with the Lahore Declaration. And to get them on board, we’ll have to have their Indian counterparts also sitting across the table, in future. This essay is courtesy THE WEEK, 14 Oct 2013 To know more about Maroof Raza, visit: www.maroofraza.com