At the much-trumpeted meeting between the Indian and Pakistani premieres in New York, it was agreed that the DGMOs would meet regularly to discuss the maintenance of peaceful conditions on the Line Of Control. At the time, it was suggested that if this was the result of a discussion between the two Prime Ministers, it meant the meeting could not be said to have been a success -- so routine a matter was the DGMOs interaction considered to be.

Now, it seems that it may have been essential to state and secure the obvious, since LoC violations continue unabated, and ceasefire violations are heating up the already hostile and volatile space between two nuclear-armed neighbours. Two died in the Sialkot sector as the result of firing, yesterday. Reports of injuries by firing are common on both sides.

In total, skirmishes have been reported at 25 locations in India and Pakistan – an alarming indication that control and restraint is gradually being eroded. Instead, both sides have been quick to leap to an advantage in the blame game. With Indian elections coming up, the scope for emotional incitement of anti-Pakistan sentiment is greater. Even in peak election season in Pakistan, anti-India sentiment was hardly in evidence – much to the ire of some.

With protestations of being wrong done by on both sides, the meeting of the DGMOs, scheduled for today (Monday), does not come a moment too soon. Along with the immediate cessation of firing across the LoC, must come a mutual understanding to refuse to accept as normal, what is now described as “routine exchanges”. There ought to be no “routine exchanges” of fire between two nuclear armed neighbours. Any minor misunderstanding has the potential to escalate out of control. The DGMOs must demonstrate responsibility and restraint, and for both sides must ensure that the ceasefire is maintained, and respected as sacrosanct. This may be cold comfort to the families of the two who died in Sialkot, among others, but further avoidable tragedies must not be allowed to follow.