Latest reports confirm that Islamabad has approached the UN to investigate the recent violation of the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir to settle the issue as to whether, India or Pakistan, overstepped their bounds. Last Sunday an Indian army contingent fired at a Pakistani checkpost and injured and wounded two Pakistani soldiers, one of whom succumbed to his wounds shortly after. Islamabad summoned the Indian High Commissioner to Foreign Office and lodged a strong protest against the unprovoked attack. Later, the Pakistan High Commissioner at New Delhi was called to the External Affairs Ministry and the Indians alleged that Pakistani troops that had crossed the LoC, and killed two of their soldiers. The protest contained the charge that two of the Indian troops were killed, one of whom was beheaded.

As tension flared up after the both sides resorted to blaming each other and refused to back down, Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said that Pakistan had requested the UN to probe the matter and pinpoint the real culprit. She reacted soberly pointing out, “We have made significant progress in the dialogue process. Pakistan has taken a number of steps to normalise and improve relations.” She also stressed the need to maintain the improvement so far recorded and “avoid negative propaganda”. Her statement was in sharp contrast to the undiplomatically worded remarks of Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, who intoned, “It is absolutely unacceptable, ghastly, and really terrible and short-sighted on their part.” While promising a “proportionate” response he said, though, that a way had to be found not to sabotage or destroy the dialogue process.

Pessimistic comments have come from former COAS General (r) Aslam Beg who felt that nothing good for Pakistan could be expected from India. According to a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) story, Indian army sources have admitted that they found the bodies lying on their side of the LoC and had no proof of any Pakistani involvement. The Indian leadership must ponder the half-baked efforts ensure good neighbourly relations between Pakistan and India, without the resolution of the core issue of the Kashmir dispute. And it must be stressed a solution that responds to the aspirations of the people of Kashmir would alone be acceptable and could guarantee durable peace in the subcontinent, at the same time.

With short tempers and trigger happy border control forces, it is unsurprising that both sides stress on continuing to arm their conventional forces despite their nuclear capabilities. All efforts for de-escalating the situation will be in vain unless the dialogue process is oriented towards resolving the Kashmir dispute, without which any confidence building measures will just be cosmetic and a disappointment to both sides. It is also a lesson for the Pakistanis in the media treatment the Indians have given to their fallen soldiers. Even as yet, the ISPR website contains no mention of the Pakistani soldier who lost his life defending his country against Indian aggression.