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Terrorism & Security

Trouble at the line: Another soldier killed in India-Pakistan sparring

A Pakistani soldier was shot dead yesterday along the disputed Line of Control in Kashmir, making the past 10 days the deadliest period of cross border fighting in nearly a decade.

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The Christian Science Monitor reports that the recent flare-ups along the LoC have some worried that it could jeopardize Pakistan and India’s move toward peace.

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Whitney Eulich is the Monitor's Latin America editor, overseeing regional coverage for CSMonitor.com and the weekly magazine. She also curates the Latin America Monitor Blog.

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"This has been the historical trend: that whenever India and Pakistan move toward peace, one small incident reverses all progress made by the dialogue process," says Raza Rumi of the Pakistani think tank The Jinnah Institute. "The blame game by the two countries has been aggravated by the sensationalism of the Indian media, and the Pakistani media could now follow suit," he says.

The Delhi-based Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation told the Monitor that those living in the border region are most concerned about sustaining peace.

"My team has visited the LoC areas and found that the people there are very scared of the escalating situation. The peace that has held there since 2003 is dear to them," says Sushobha Bharve from the Centre.

Despite the charged rhetoric coming from all sides, both governments say the recent deaths won’t knock communication and improved relations off track, reports Dawn.

Recent events have not only affected diplomatic exchanges. The public outcry coming from both countries appears to have affected more every-day matters including a cross-border visa program and the Indian hockey league. Nine Pakistani hockey players playing for India returned home due to protests there following the recent border-clashes, according to NDTV. And a new visa program for senior citizens “hailed as a sign of thawing ties” prior to the recent uptick in killings along the LoC may now be in jeopardy. 

“Pakistani senior citizens were turned away at a border post the first day the scheme was to come into effect,” reports the AP.

An editorial in the Indian newspaper The Hindu urges both sides to stand down and diffuse the tension that has resulted from recent events.

“After this dastardly act,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Tuesday, “there can’t be business as usual with Pakistan.” Dr. Singh’s tired words — and his government's dreadful decision to postpone the start of visa-free travel to India by senior citizens from Pakistan — suggest the relentless political attacks on his Pakistan policy are taking a toll.

This is not good news. It is entirely true that the beheading of Indian soldiers on the Line of Control was a despicable act that must be condemned. It must also be candidly admitted, though, that Pakistan has not had a monopoly of wrong-doing in this case.

It is pointless to ask who cast the first stone. The need now is to strengthen the restraint regime on the LoC. Few spectacles have been as unedifying as the contemptible baying of warmongers these past days — most of it, it bears mention, emanating from TV studios located at a safe distance from the nearest bullet. It is hard not to contrast Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sushma Swaraj’s ugly calls for 10 Pakistani soldiers to be beheaded in retaliation with the studied restraint of General Singh. No one who has seen war casually calls for the blood of soldiers to be shed — or believes they can predict, with any certainty, what the consequences of war will be.

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