Thursday, 15 August 2013

Catch 22 at LoC, by Lal Khan

Catch 22 at LoC, by Lal Khan 
It is the not an accident that India and Pakistan, housing 22 percent of the world population, host 44 percent of the world poverty yet they are amongst the top five buyers of military hard ware

The killing of five Indian military personnel in firing across the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir yet again lays bare the festering wound Kashmir has become over the last sixty-six years.

After every such incident accusations, denials and counter-allegations are traded between the two sides. It has become a monotonous routine. Most people are bored by this rhetoric. In the recent instance, Indian army accused that Pakistani troops ‘entered the Indian area and ambushed’ an army patrol in the Poonch sector. The Prime Minister of the Pakistani controlled Kashmir accused the Indian army of abducting four citizens from Mirpur.

The latest incident comes as the two sides are preparing for peace talks, the first since a new Pakistani government took office. The chief minister of the Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir state, Omar Abdullah, says such incidents ‘don't help efforts to normalize or even improve relations with Pakistan and call into question the Pakistan government's recent overtures’. The Indian Defense Minister, A. K. Antony, told the Indian parliament that the New Delhi ‘has lodged a strong protest with the government of Pakistan through diplomatic channels’.

A top Indian army officer told the BBC that a group of ‘elite commandos’ from Pakistan army breached the Line of Control on August 6 and ambushed an Indian army patrol in the Poonch sector of Jammu region. The officer said one Indian soldier was also injured in ‘unprovoked firing’ by Pakistani soldiers in a separate incident in Udhampur region a day before. A Pakistani military official described the Indian allegations as ‘baseless’ and claimed there was no firing from the Pakistani side.

Earlier in January this year, incident of beheadings and cross-border attacks triggered a diplomatic crisis and media-war.

India and Pakistan agreed upon a ceasefire along the Line of Control, which divides Kashmir, in November 2003. However, both sides keep violating it and blaming each other. Meantime, several soldiers and civilians have been killed or wounded on both sides. After the January episode, claiming the lives of three Pakistani and two Indian soldiers, relations between the two sides deteriorated so sharply that the fledgling peace process under way since February 2012 was threatened. Eventually, both India and Pakistan agreed to de-escalate the tensions.

There have been three-and-a-half major wars between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir question ever since the Partition in 1947. At the time of Partition, the rules worked out by the British and the leaders of the local ruling classes were not implemented. It was a bloody Partition leaving almost 2.7 million innocent people dead. However, Kashmir’s division was provoked by a war. The present Line of Control is based on the position where the Indian and the Pakistani forces stood at the time of the ceasefire introduced by the United Nations in 1948.

Despite three wars, dozens of UN resolutions and innumerable negotiations between the rulers of the two countries the situation has hardly changed. Nor has the plight of the oppressed masses of Kashmir. Besides oppression, they suffer poverty and misery. Ironically, Indo-Pak establishments and military hierarchies use and abuse the Kashmir issue to justify hefty military budgets besides perks and privileges of the military’s top brass.

The imperialist military-industrial complexes also benefit. It is the not an accident that India and Pakistan, housing 22 percent of the world population, host 44 percent of the world poverty yet they are amongst the top five buyers of military hard ware and sophisticated arms. At the same time, in the guise of national security both these countries have become nuclear powers. To maintain their huge nuclear arsenals, the rulers on both sides have consigned the toiling masses to absolute poverty.

Paradoxically, neither the imperialists nor the Indo-Pakistani ruling classes can afford an all out war between the two nuclear South Asian states. The destruction to be wreck by any such war would not spare either the investments made by the imperialists or the assets built by the local elites.
This vicious cycle consisting of peace gestures followed by intermittent LoC violations engendering war hysteria without an actual war will continue.

Among various calls for re-starting the peace talks the recent LoC firing incident fits pretty well into the scheme of things that the ruling classes have established. As the tensions rise, both sides exploit national and religious chauvinism to curb class struggles and stall prospective mass revolts against the structured oppression. The Safron brigade in India while Islamic fundamentalists in Pakistan play upon these prejudices to gain political mileage.
Meantime, the Kashmiris continue suffering. Their dream of a national liberation is as distant as half a century ago

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