Ahead of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly that begins on September 17, during which India and Pakistan are expected to face off over Kashmir, India on Sunday said the Pakistan Army has committed more than 2,050 “unprovoked” ceasefire violations this year in which 21 Indians have been killed.
Such details are usually released by the Defence Ministry but the Ministry of External Affairs shared the data in a bid to build a case that Pakistan has been trying to push cross-border terrorist infiltration since the beginning of the year and create instability in the Valley.
This comes amidst Jammu and Kashmir continuing to be under lockdown, with a communication shutdown in place since the Centre’s August 5 decision to revoke the special status to J&K and bifurcate the state into two Union Territories. The Centre has defended the lockdown, saying the restrictions were aimed at preventing violence and loss of life.
In a statement on Sunday, Ministry of External Affairs’ official spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, “We have highlighted our concerns at unprovoked ceasefire violations by Pakistan forces, including in support of cross-border terrorist infiltration, and targeting of Indian civilians and border posts by them. This year they have resorted to more than 2,050 unprovoked ceasefire violations in which 21 Indians have died. We have repeatedly called upon Pakistan to ask its forces to adhere to 2003 ceasefire understanding and maintain peace and tranquility along the LoC (Line of Control) and IB (International Border). Indian forces exercise maximum restraint and respond to unprovoked violations and attempts at cross-border terrorist infiltration.”
Earlier this week, Lieutenant General K J S Dhillon, General Officer Commanding, 15 Corps, had told The Indian Express that “cross-LoC infiltration may lead to increase in the number of terrorists in the hinterland. This can lead to disruption of life of common citizens, and also cause loss to public and private property.”
“We have looked at the LoC very closely. It is well-covered and taken care of. In the hinterland, there were concerns that the situation can get volatile. These were well visualised and well-coordinated too amongst all stakeholders, including civil administration,” Lt Gen Dhillon had said.
According to official data compiled by The Indo-Pak Conflict Monitor, an independent research initiative to monitor ceasefire violations, conflict patterns, and escalation dynamics between India and Pakistan, the ceasefire violations have steadily increased since 2014.
According to official data, India said there were 1,432 ceasefire violations, as of July 2018, while Pakistan said it was 1,400 as of August 2018. In 2017, India said 971 ceasefire violations took place, while Pakistan said it was 1,970.
According to Happymon Jacob, Associate Professor of Diplomacy and Disarmament Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, who is the project head of the Indo-Pak Conflict Monitor, “Violations of the ceasefire agreement of 2003 between India and Pakistan in the Jammu and Kashmir region are a significant trigger in bilateral military, political, and diplomatic tensions.”
While India asserts terrorist infiltration from Pakistan is the primary cause for CFVs, Pakistan claims that the larger outstanding bilateral disputes are the issue.
“During times of bilateral tension, however, as has been the case since 2009, the agreement tends to break down and CFVs are routine. During such phases, local factors tend to have a dramatic influence on ceasefire violations. From a policy perspective, then, it is as important to focus on measures on the ground to sustain the ceasefire as it is to address the fundamental political dispute between the two countries,” Jacod wrote in a paper, ‘Ceasefire Violations in Jammu and Kashmir – A Line on Fire’, published in September 2017 for the United States Institute of Piece.