The very existence of 2003 ceasefire between and India and Pakistan today looks a farce. There have been intermittent exchanges of fire and artillery shelling along the Line of Control and International Border claiming the lives of Indian soldiers. It is certain that 2018, 2019 proved to be bloodier year for the India-Pakistan border than any previous year. Unfortunately, by now, both sides have become so used to the violence that it is rarely recognized that even for a disputed border, this amount of violence is disturbingly high by global standards. The decades-long disputes over the boundary and the resulting claims, accusations, diplomatic stratagems and negotiating tactics have kicked up an enormous cloud of confusion. Today, it is difficult to answer even the most basic of the questions: why does border violence happen at all? Most of the time border firing is taken as a ploy to facilitate push-in of terrorists by Pakistan. While infiltration or local causes may account for individual incidents, there is some kind of control being exercised by higher authorities to ensure that the cumulative trend of violence goes up or down. However, given the paucity of accurate data, it is difficult to speculate on the strategic or political reasons for such a policy. More importantly, without understanding such policies, it is near-impossible to construct a ceasefire agreement that can hold. As long as one doesn’t know what the players want, how can one break a truce? To overcome this problem, India must consider infusing greater transparency and honesty into the discussion surrounding the India-Pakistan border. If Pakistan is indeed principally responsible for the violence, New Delhi must start presenting credible facts and figures. Such an approach will not only help in better understanding of Pakistan’s motives but also allow India to build an effective case against it on the international stage. The road to the Kartarpur corridor has created a tremendous enthusiasm among the devotees, which could well be used as political capital to bridge the vast chasm that exists between India and Pakistan. Due care will have to be taken by the security agencies, and any attempt to subvert the spirit of Kartarpur has to be nipped in the bud.
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