by Rukhmani Sarda, a second year International Relations student. Also author of Developing Globallist
The past two days have seen resumed shelling on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC) between India and Pakistan. With tensions once again high, questions have been raised over the military superiority of India, and of its capabilities in terms of conventional warfare with Pakistan. I will address this towards the end of the article, but first it is important to look at how the situation has become exacerbated once again.
Last month saw a heat wave in Pakistan’s Sindh province, the effects of which were catastrophic. The heat wave was made worse by the fact that it began at the same time as Muslims throughout Pakistan began fasting for Ramadan. Law-makers all blamed each other for the daily blackouts, lack of water and electricity which left many dead. Karachi was significantly hit by the intense period of drought before the monsoon brought heavy rains, and as the financial hub there was widespread disruption across the whole of Pakistan. Questions were raised over India’s lack of assistance during the heat wave, however India made it clear that they would not be willing to aid the situation. This is largely due to Pakistan’s recent decision to release Rehman Lakhvi – one of the terrorists caught after the Mumbai terror attacks. The attacks revealed the worryingly poor internal organisation of the Indian army and as a result, India has worked massively in both quantitative and qualitative terms to work on their arms. As a result, India is currently the world’s largest buyer of arms, an attempt to balance the military power in the region against not only Pakistan, but also China.
Earlier this week Pakistan shot down a drone claimed to have been from India, close to the LoC. This has sparked the most intense series of debates and speculation for many years, with tensions along the Indo-Pak border the most heightened that they have been for at least a decade. Since 2003 a ceasefire had been in place, which has been violated by Pakistan at least four times this past week. However, India has to take part of the blame. Following the drone operation which has most recently been blamed on China, India planned to launch a helicopter operation along the border which Pakistani military authorities have claimed is far within Pakistan’s LoC territory.
It remains that poor communication between the two states has made relations drastically worse. According to Indian foreign secretary, S Jaishankar, the director general of Border Security Force tried to contact his counterpart across the border in Pakistan however there was no response. In the most recent press conference however it was stated that “Indian and Pakistani officials are in touch over recent incidents of firing along the Line of Control”. Saturday saw the latest exchange of fire, with a reported five injured in the Indian village of Poonch.
Whilst both sides are undoubtedly antagonising each other, the human impact is yet to be considered by either government. The fact remains that both states are experiencing sectarian communal tensions, which in India have only widened following the rise and predominance of the far-right Hindu BJP government. Kashmir remains a point of contention with both India and Pakistan seeking to expand their territorial gains, however neither side appear to have acknowledged that Kashmiris themselves in fact want their own state. With border disputes thus increasing, and exchanges of fire becoming the norm, it awaits to be seen how long it will take for outside forces to intervene.