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- Monday, August 12, 2013 - From Print Edition


The Indo-Pak peace process, overtly and covertly supported by different actors in the two countries and abroad, has come under great strain. The tensions started on the Line of Control where India last week claimed that five soldiers of the Bihar Regiment had been killed by Pakistani troops. The Indian defence minister made a sensible speech in the parliament but under pressure from the extremist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), changed tracks and put all the blame on Islamabad for the killings. Then the Pakistan High Commission was attacked by Congress youth and two-friendship buses were stopped by demonstrators.


As if that was not enough, the Indian media came up with mind-boggling reports that put further strain on the ties.One newspaper published so-called evidence that Pakistan was running training camps for carrying out terrorist operations in India. Then it was reported that the “Indian Army chief General Bikram Singh had reprimanded his top commanders in held Jammu and Kashmir for not launching a massive retaliatory strike against the Pakistani Army along the Line Of Control (LoC) after five Indian soldiers were killed in an audacious cross-border strike in Poonch Sector on August 6.”


It was also reported: “The border remained tense with Pakistani troops violating the ceasefire yet again early Saturday, firing more than 7,000 rounds of ammunition and mortar shells for almost seven hours at Indian posts in Poonch Sector. In retaliation, Indian troops fired 4,595 rounds of ammunition, including mortar shells.”


Not to be left behind were unnamed Indian experts who said while “The use of artillery could escalate tensions along the border, but it is equally critical for the army to take decisive action to punish Pakistan.” To top it all was the report which claimed that “India believes these attacks, and other such activity along the border and inside Jammu and Kashmir, are part of a deliberate Pakistani game plan to push in as many militants as possible across the LoC. The goal of all this: escalate violence in the run-up to and possibly disrupt the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections next year.” Needless to say such reports are xenophobic, malicious and far from the truth. Meanwhile, Pakistan expressed concerns over the “organised demonstrations” outside its high commission and the mobbing of the Lahore- bound bus.


Earlier, in Islamabad, Pakistan had summoned India’s deputy high commissioner and sought greater security for its mission and personnel and residence of its high commissioner who is based in New Delhi.


The Indian over-reaction has raised several pertinent questions: Is the Indian war hysteria is aimed at getting leverage during the US-Taliban talks and the 2014 US pullout from Afghanistan in which the US has totally ignored New Delhi’s so-called concerns? Or does the war mongering is about the simmering held Kashmir where the local people are once again on the streets with their patience running out?


According to Mahatama Gandhi, “There is no way to peace, there is only peace.” So, let the peace process between the two countries not be derailed by unwanted jingoism and bravado. Let us not work ourselves into frenzy and try to extract every morsel of propaganda from the killings on the LoC. Let us chase peace with a renewed sense of purpose.