Building trust: On India-Pakistan ties

India needs to re-engage with Pakistan and end the ceasefire violations along the border

Updated - June 16, 2020 10:31 am IST

Published - June 16, 2020 12:02 am IST

The shelling and the retaliations along the Line of Control with Pakistan are a matter of consternation, because it has been allowed to go on so long as to become an everyday occurrence. The unfortunate death of Sepoy Lungabui Abonmli, and the airlifting of two other soldiers, Lienkhothien Senghon and Sepoy Tangsoik Kwianiungar, to the Command Hospital in Udhampur because of injuries due to shelling in Poonch sector are the latest grim reminders of this phenomenon. Sepoy Abonmli is the third soldier to succumb to shelling in this area. All of May the Pir Panjal range, which fronts the Kashmir Valley, has seen mortar and small arms firing. On Saturday, splinter injuries from shelling in Haji Pir in Uri , claimed the life of Akhtar Begum, a civilian. This has been a worrying trend, as when the shells reach deeper they fall in residential areas, in villages such as Churunda and Silikote. When shells begin raining, villagers panic, leave their homes and run further, to temporary shelters. This additional disruption to life in the aftermath of the dilution of Article 370 last August and the COVID-19 lockdown, is something that should be addressed with urgency. Shelling should not be allowed to be a regular occurrence. Ceasefire with Pakistan along the Line of Control is obviously not working, and the government needs to build bomb shelters for civilians until normalcy returns.

Unfortunately, aspects of relations with Pakistan in other spheres are in poor repair as well. The two personnel from the Indian mission in Islamabad going suddenly missing for a while points to further breakdown in relations. It makes evident that India and Pakistan are unable even to adhere to reciprocal protocols regarding staff posted in the missions. Whether or not it is a tit-for-tat reaction for India having expelled two Pakistan High Commission officials, Abid Hussain Amid and Mohd Tahir Khan, on charges of espionage, India must take steps to ensure its diplomatic personnel are spared such harassment, which is always present and episodically on show. But with New Delhi studiously avoiding any serious engagement, is the staffing in Pakistan commensurate with the vastly shrunk bilateral relations? As the pandemic rages, with travel curbs and reduced face-to-face opportunities, it might be prudent to temporarily maintain only essential mission staff in Pakistan till India is able to obtain trust and stability in the ties.

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