After a brief respite Pakistan and India return to their favourite pastime: cross-border skirmishes. Throughout Wednesday and Thursday heavy gunfire was exchanged on various points in Punjab and the Jammu district. As always both sides blame the other for unprovoked initiation, to which they were merely retaliating. The pattern has become all too familiar, yet despite repeated occurrences, no one is closer to the truth about these ‘unprovoked attacks. Although this incident is a little different, instead of using the general umbrella of ‘unprovoked attack’ to describe the event, the Pakistani officials have presented a detailed story. They claim two Chenab Rangers were killed when they were approaching the border to decide the date and time of a meeting between Indian and Pakistani officials, on invitation by the Indian side. Who you blame for the initiation of the skirmish has become a matter of instinct based on your political sympathies, but perhaps the unusually detailed explanation provided by the Pakistani official’s hints at the truth.

Rather than picking at official incident reports, we should focus on the stance taken by both sides after such incidents. Throughout 2014, which saw cross border violation increase to 2003 levels, India has taken a more aggressive stance, one that directs its soldiers to respond with “double the force”, and borders on open warmongering. Pakistan on the other hand has responded with condemnation, summoning embassy official, and lodging protests in international forums. This dove tails with the domestic politics of both nations. Pakistan has been struggling with a spate of anti-state protests and battling an insurgency, it gains very little from demonising India when its enemies are Muslim extremists at home. India on the other hand is helmed by a resurgent Bharatia Janta Party (BJP) which has openly used anti-Pakistan rhetoric to ride into office. BJP’s ambitions, which usually involve a warped Hindutva policy, have meant that the rhetoric hasn’t died down. The push to gain seats in the Jammu and Kashmir elections, in which it has emerged as strong party, coincided with an increase in cross border skirmishes, sabre rattling and speeches demonising Pakistan. The recent forced conversion controversy raging the in parliament and a police anti–terrorism exercise in Modi’s hometown, Gujrat, which featured “militants” dressed up as Muslims, shows a visible – perhaps deliberate – attempt to demonise Muslims. Cross border violations, through which one can display their dead and use nationalistic machismo, therefore favours India much more than it favours Pakistan. Perhaps this fact can guide our analysis.