The Pity of War

The Pity of War
A condition of “No War, No Peace” or even “ Cold Peace” that obtains between India and Pakistan does not detract from the fact that there is a warlike ambiance and condition on peoples’ who happen to live on or near the Line of Control(LoC). An indication of the intermitted or warlike conditions with pauses on the LoC is the killing of seven people; most of these people were hapless people caught in the maelstrom of rivalry between arch antagonists, India and Pakistan. Cross border firing and shelling has now become  routine on the LoC that it almost amounts to a “rite of passage”. In terms of the interstate dimensions and connotations of the LoC skirmishes, both India and Pakistan might derive a sense of gratification ignoring the humanitarian dimensions of the issue. People get killed in and during these skirmishes; families and lives get disrupted and the tension that this perpetual armed hostility on the LoC generates impacts and traumatizes people. But, apparently, powers that be , on both sides of the LoC do not appear to care. There appears to be pride, ego(s), recriminations and the supposed gratification that retaliation accords, at work in these LoC skirmishes. What appears to hold and check these skirmishes  into blowing into full blown war is the presence of nuclear weapons in the equation between India and Pakistan. Neither nation can really afford to go to war because of nukes each possesses. But this cannot and should not mean complacency. The deterrence paradigm that obtains between India and Pakistan might not hold if subjected to sustained stresses and strains.  There then are two components to the serial and fatal skirmishes between India and Pakistan on the LoC. One is the humanitarian aspect where innocent people get killed for no fault of theirs other than being at the wrong place at the wrong time; the other is the possibility of this localized conflict escalating and morphing into a conflagration amounting to war. Both these components or even dimensions must concentrate the minds of powers that be across the divide to stop this serial dance of death on the LoC. One good step could be devising communication mechanisms that pre-empt skirmishes and thus killings. This could be followed up by a multi-stakeholder dialogue between India and Pakistan over the core sticking point or issues between the two. That is, Kashmir. Let the process begin now and let lives be saved and a potential war be averted.

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