Monday, 5 Jun 2023

India vs Pakistan: Pakistan fires on Indian forces in Kashmir for second time in two days

The Indian Army is retaliating befittingly

Indian government spokesman

Kashmir is a major flashpoint in relations between the two countries, and almost triggered a disastrous conflict last February as a result of a tit-for-tat exchange following a terror attack which resulted in the deaths of 44 Indian paramilitary policemen. A defence spokesman accused Pakistan’s army of yesterday firing on forward Indian posts along the Line of Control in the Poonch district for the second consecutive day. 

The spokesman said: “At about 5.45pm, Pakistan initiated unprovoked ceasefire violation by small arms firing along LoC in Shahpur and Qasba sectors. The Indian Army is retaliating befittingly.

On Saturday, the Pakistani army fired mortar shells and small arms on forward posts and villages in Mankot sector of Poonch district, India claimed.

There was no report of any casualties as a result of either incident, the spokesman said.

The dispute over the region is long and complex, and tensions were raised still further last year when India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, leader of the BJP Party, revoked the autonomous status of Kashmir and neighbouring Jammu by rescinding articles 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution, prompting strong condemnation from Islamabad.

An analysis written by geopolitical intelligence and advisory firm Stratfor Worldview and published on the National Interest website in January stated: “By fulfilling its campaign promise to revoke the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir, the BJP took a major step toward advancing the territorial unity of India, though at the cost of undermining talks aimed at normalising relations with Pakistan.

“But Indian-controlled Kashmir is still experiencing internet cutoffs; detentions, such as that of three former chief ministers of the former state; and restrictions on free movement.

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“Until its security problems are resolved and normalcy returns, the investment and migration from elsewhere in India that Modi wants to foster in Indian-controlled Kashmir will not substantially materialise.

“In the meantime, the dispute over the region will continue to loom over Indian-Pakistani relations.”

There have also been suggestions in recent weeks that Mr Modi may be considering a wholesale invasion of Kashmir.

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Speaking to last month, Frank O’Donnell, a South Asia expert at the US Naval War College, speaking in his personal capacity, said: “If there is another significant Pakistan-sponsored terrorist attack against Indian forces or within Indian territory, there may be another India-Pakistan exchange of hostilities similar to the Pulwama-Balakot crisis of February-March 2019.

“This was in itself a dangerous episode, in terms of the level and speed of conflict escalation between two nuclear-armed rivals.

“However, it is unlikely that such Indian military operations would extend to attempting to seize Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

“It is uncertain that India possesses the military capability to break a conventional stalemate with Pakistan along the Line of Control.

“Even if it did, attempting to hold this territory would likely lead to major conventional war, further successive terrorist attacks upon Indian forces and territory, and discussions within Pakistan about its nuclear threshold.”

Mr O’Donnell added: “Moreover, it would bring Indian forces into direct contact with the Chinese security personnel and civilian workers who are in Pakistan-administered Kashmir on infrastructure projects.

“Their presence, and potential harm by Indian forces, could have a tripwire effect in motivating Chinese military intervention against India.

“There is therefore little political or strategic upside for India to attempt seizure of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, and the more likely course of action would resemble that of the Balakot air strikes – as dangerous as these were in itself.”

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