Ceasefire violations at LOC: Any lesson to learn

Throughout the recent history, numerous Pakistan-India stand-offs have transpired within the nuclear milieu; in the domains of security, politics and diplomacy, and not culminated in a nuclear war. Therefore, Pakistan and India have internalized the idea of a consistent deterrence amid them. Particularly India holds this solemn notion that despite being under the nuclear conditions, they have ample room for maneuvers focused at limited war. New Delhi has, time and again, used this understanding to undertake military risks. Such risky behavior is not new in terms of violations of the ceasefire line.

Collectively, the two sides have 2% of the atomic arsenal of the world. Granting, none of the sides may bring about a nuclear war without instigation. However, in September, with reference to the Kashmir conflict, Pakistan’s Prime Minister at the yearly conference of United Nations stated: “There is a potential that the two nuclear armed countries will come face-to-face at some stage.”

Further complicating the situation is the rapid modernization of arms on both sides of the border. New Delhi has admitted to its Cold Start doctrine. The doctrine would allow New Delhi to undertake swift action against Islamabad. Correspondingly, Islamabad has come up with tactical nuclear weapons which will allow action before any external intervention might take place for reining back the two sides and cooling off the situation.

Pakistan and India have arguably been in a perpetual state of war with each other. They attempt to balance out the other’s might by maximizing their own security or power. Many incidents of cross border violations, firings and killings; stationing of latest armaments on both sides of the border can be attributed to such attempts for balancing each other’s power. Both the states have a history of four conventional wars against each other along with numerous scuffles. Hence, the likelihood of a regular confrontation turning nuclear always looms in the background.

New Delhi has an edge in terms of conventional military. Also, it possesses a greater land mass. A likely path to a nuclear confrontation comprises a limited war between Islamabad and New Delhi. In the event of Islamabad calculating an impending successful invasion by New Delhi, the former would be forced to resort to an atomic strike only to avoid being taken over by the latter’s military supremacy. Besides, either of the side might miscalculate a conventional attack or so much so a regular military drill of the other as a nuclear strike.

Another aspect further worsening any crisis situation between Pakistan and India is the narrative espoused by the political leaders in both the countries, in the case of violations of the ceasefire line or any other political or diplomatic impasse. The statements made during such a scenario usually hint at a nuclear standoff. The political standpoints of both the states regarding the disputed territory and the resulting clash are practically manifested in the happenings along the control line.

In the view of New Delhi, such cross-border skirmishes allow Islamabad to infiltrate terrorists across the Indian border. From the standpoint of Islamabad, New Delhi violates the armistice and undertakes escalation causing diversion from the issues of global concern that meanwhile take place within Indian-held Kashmir. Besides, the national atmosphere in the two states is wrought by jingoistic narratives and media propaganda, affecting the policies.

Further complicating the situation is the rapid modernization of arms on both sides of the border. New Delhi has admitted to its Cold Start doctrine. The doctrine would allow New Delhi to undertake swift action against Islamabad. Correspondingly, Islamabad has come up with tactical nuclear weapons which will allow action before any external intervention might take place for reining back the two sides and cooling off the situation.

The undervalued danger of ceasefire violations in leading to alarming levels of escalation further elucidate the importance of understanding the escalation dynamics between the two nuclear powers. Such an understanding might facilitate policymakers in the two states to decide to solemnize a wide-ranging ceasefire agreement in order to prevent escalation and ensure deescalation if such a situation might arise.

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