Monday, January 14, 2013

Musical Chair resumes at LoC

After a decade of suspension, the Musical Chair Game has resumed at the strategically vital Haji Pir Pass on the Line of Control (LoC) that separates Azad Jammu & Kashmir from Indian-Occupied Jammu & Kashmir.

Haji Pir Pass is an important Geographical Feature on the Western Pir Panjal Ranges that stride across Azad Jammu & Kashmir and Indian-Occupied Jammu & Kashmir. This makes it strategic enough for both sides to vie for control whenever an opportunity presents itself. The Line of Control that divides Kashmir into being occupied by India or administrated by Pakistan is a "Temporary" feature, identifying the geographical boundary of the areas that are held by the two armies. It therefore keeps changing with every war and whenever both sides trade posts and heights.

Even when there is no war like situation, there remains a continuous effort to Improve Positions or in fact to Gain Stranglehold, resulting in Small Tactical Operations that include routine artillery firing, as well as raids in conjunction, aimed to evict the other and seize control of the commanding heights over strategic features.

Since a large part of this area is impassable and large-scale manoeuvres remain almost impossible, it essentially remains a battle for posts between India and Pakistan. These continue even as the two continues maintain a dialogue at the political level, enabling a semblance of peace, even if only at the surface.

Haji Pir has been traded between both sides in the two bigger Wars of 1965 and 1971 and in the period in between, for example in the Kargil Battle which is a strategic area because that is where supplies to Siachen pass through.

The year 2013 has dawned with similar attempt by India to gain control over a Pakistani Post in the Buttle Area of Haji Pir Pass by storming the post. Pakistan fiercely contested this aggression and forced Indian troops to retreat, thanks to Naik Muhammad Aslam (Shaheed) and his companions. However, if this attempt had been successful, it would have placed the Indian army in a better position vis-a-vis the vital Haji Pir Pass that Pakistan holds. Two days later India tried to cover the humiliation by alleging a similar Pakistani violation of the LoC and claimed that two of its soldiers had been killed, with serious charges of mutilation of the bodies by the Pakistani troops.

India media gave hours of airtime to stir passions amid jingoistic bellowing openly demanding immediate retribution. It used this opportunity to bring back its most favoured chant of Pakistan being an irresponsible and rogue nation, unworthy of any respect among the nations of the world. The propaganda has been vicious; the timing intriguing and the warmongering relentless.

As India sounded the drums of war and maligned Pakistan insidiously, the Pakistani media was busy consumed with its own "Playfulness" of the Internal Political Circus.

An important scenario to consider is that with the US & Allied Troops drawdown in Afghanistan enabling hope of the war coming to a closure there, Pakistan is now able to focus so much more on its Internal Challenges. Is it that someone out there would like Pakistan to continue to remain embroiled in a Bleeding War against Insurgencies, if those groups that have challenged the state are left unharmed?

That becomes probable if the Pakistan Army is forced to extricate its over 150,000 troops from the Western Regions to the Indian borders, again to contend with the rising possibility of a Limited Armed Conflict, i.e. alike the Kargil Battle. That way the insurgencies mushroom and Pakistan continues to remain stuck in the quagmire of internal challenges and willy-nilly is pushed closer to a state of failure under the weight of perpetual adversities. On a map of geo-political enactments, it isn’t a far-fetched possibility.

On the flip side, with the war in Afghanistan closing down, is there a possibility that heightened tensions in Kashmir and with India, can find an Alternate Employment for the various groups who till-date were conveniently engaged elsewhere, but will now be suitable diverted and found another occupation, coincidentally in the Occupied Kashmir.

This might also save Pakistan another crippling engagement with another War on Terror! The choice is India’s to determine its own way ahead. Beating war drums will become countervailing to their larger long-term interests.

The situation is going totally in the opposite direction to what "Aman Ke Aasha" presents, especially when seen in light of Indian Army Chief General Bikram Singh's recent "Aggressive Response" order to his commanders, "We expect our commanders to be aggressive, the orders are very clear: when provoked, I expect my unit commanders should fire back".

For those who read too much into the recent Doctrinal Changes of the Army, get back for another detailed reviewing. The Conventional Threat from the East is well and alive.

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