Referring to the ongoing ceasefire violations on the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Army Training Command (ARTRAC), Lt Gen M M Naravane on Tuesday said that it will be difficult to restore peace on the border at tactical level, and that a lasting peace with Pakistan can only be found at the negotiating table.
Lt Gen Naravane said 2017 was the worst year in ceasefire violations, and the first two months of 2018 were no better. “Peace on border is difficult to achieve at tactical level alone. Restoring ceasefire requires statesmanship, not brinkmanship,” he said.
Addressing a seminar on “Emerging geo-strategic manifestations in Pakistan — Implications for India” at Panjab University, the Army Commander said that both India and Pakistan have been aggressively pursuing a policy of unrelenting tit-for-tat for the last few years. “But we need to analyse what will be the end result of this approach,” he said. “Kashmir still remains far from normal despite the strategy of matching response being followed by both nations. Be that as it may, there is no shying away from the fact that a lasting peace can only be found at the negotiating table.”
On the way ahead, Lt Gen Naravane said India will have to continue to act with a sense of responsibility, expected of a regional power, while trying to achieve a unanimity of purpose with regard to the policy with Pakistan.
The Army Commander said that Pakistan is like a mirror on the wall. “We need to look at it and not make the same mistakes, particularly in light of growing radicalisation and intolerance within our own society over mundane issues,” he said.
He emphasised that India should avoid making the same mistakes Pakistan made in the course of its history.
Recalling the words of Asma Jehangir, noted Pakistani human rights activist who passed away recently, Lt Gen Naravane said she was once asked on a visit to India why she was talking about secularism and democracy when both do not exist in Pakistan. “She was disarming in her reply when she said, ‘I request you don’t compete with us over our weaknesses’. I believe that is where our strength lies. In the core values as enshrined in the preamble of our Constitution — justice, equality, liberty, fraternity — as part of a sovereign, secular, democratic republic. In short, we are all that Pakistan is not,” he said.
Commenting on the role of military in Pakistani politics, Lt Gen Naranave said that democracy in Pakistan is farcical and the Pakistan military has always been in control. “This is in stark contrast to India where the armed forces owe allegiance to the Constitution, and not to any party, person or religion,” he said.
Lt Gen Naravane said that by virtue of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor passing through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, China has ‘willy-nilly’ become a third party to the J&K dispute despite India’s objections. “But all this comes at a price. China is slowly drawing Pakistan into a trap… Pakistan would do well to follow Myanmar’s example to cancel or re-negotiate deals which are not in her favour and see the writing on the wall,” he said.