Recent events and policies of the new BJP government are of concern to both China and Pakistan. It was being observed at the time of formulation of Indian foreign policy towards Pakistan that the new Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, was focusing on the economy and many domestic issues, along with re-formulating its international relations—especially with the US regarding the Indo-US Nuclear Deal, China, Japan, and unsettled relations with its western neighbor.
There were some changes anticipated in the manifesto of the BJP, it was proposed to expand its ‘web of allies’ and that it would adopt the policy of ‘zero tolerance’ on terrorism. Another blazing agenda on the manifesto was regarding its pledge to reconsider the nuclear doctrine of ‘no first use,’ which sparked a storm all around.
Border violations are once again on the screens and on discussion forums around the globe. These border skirmishes transpire more-or-less rather frequently in spite of the 2003 cease-fire agreement. Incidentally, the India-Pakistan 2003 cease-fire agreement has been continuously and blatantly violated over the past few years. The Line of Control (LoC) and the Working Boundary (WB) between two nuclear armed states is under a tense spike and is the subject of disobedience of the preceding agreements in this regard. A rapid and swift escalation of violence, stronger than the usual posturing from both governments, and departure from the usual methods of resolution are what sets the current conflict apart.
Regarding this escalation in violence, it is worth mentioning here that the nature of confrontation has been changing on both sides. The unfortunate cases of cross-border attacks are a time in and time out practice, but the state of affairs regarding the strategy adopted by India this time is different. Aggressive statements from Indian leadership over LoC firings call into question earlier-stated intentions to improve relations and restore firm ties with Pakistan.
The on-going tension at the LoC and Working Boundary defines the future intentions of the newly elected democratic government. More specifically, it has been transformed in the way Modi wants to shape foreign policy towards Pakistan and the region. The contemporary scenario is stimulating a challenge to South Asian security that is already under huge stress due to the likely post-2014 emerging strategic environment. Indubitably, these destabilizing incidents not only deteriorate bilateral relations among both nations but also exacerbate regional stability along with the stronger intentions of re-shaping military postures.
The eastern border has been a testing field of India-Pakistan bilateral relations. It is truly acknowledged by the Indian policy makers and political analysts that PM Nawaz Sharif approached India with a hand of friendship, but in contrast, the now and again aggressive statements by the Indian PM do not signal an optimistic future across the LoC. The episodes of bullets and blood hinder expectations on both sides of the border. Regretfully, the efforts of formulating a diplomatic arrangement turned out to be worthless, for which a heavy attendance was ensured on the invitation of Indian PM’s grand reception.
The cancellation of peace talks added fuel to the fire, but the recent episode of border firing and other provocations in the first year of a new Indian government—at a time when the region is in flux (the last quarter of 2014, where South Asia post-2014 is subject to several regional and global challenges)—is perceived internationally as revealing a more muscular approach to Indian foreign policy and political approach towards the gradual escalation of Indian military posture, and not as prioritizing the normalization of relations with Pakistan.
Nevertheless, Pakistan’s stance is quite clear by the response of Pakistan’s Defense Minister Khawaja Asif to his Indian counterpart Arun Jaitley’s warning that Indian forces would render any “adventurism” by Pakistan “unaffordable.” He said that Islamabad has the ability to respond to Indian aggression, followed by what could be perceived as a veiled threat. Moreover, he said that we do not want the situation on the borders of two nuclear neighbors to escalate into confrontation. Nevertheless, the response from Pakistani military would deter and restrict India from taking such provocative actions next time, especially the killing of innocent civilians.
No matter to what extent these states opt for economic and trade reforms, stability at the unofficial boundaries (LoC and the Working Boundary) is of utmost importance for a real and long-term peace. Evidently, early gestures and responses from both countries raised the expectations for a fresh start of India-Pakistan relations but unfortunately, India neither kept the expectations up to the mark nor was able to replace the image of Narendra Modi as a hardliner with an image of a neutral and rational leader. To fathom fragility in India- Pakistan relations is not difficult, but if any side wants to abate these bloody cross-border fireworks, the need of hour would be to fill the communication and understanding gaps among both.