Published: March 13, 2018 10:27 pm
Ceasing of hostilities between India and Pakistan along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir must be on Indian terms, Army chief Bipin Rawat on Tuesday said, noting that Pakistani forces have been feeling the “pain” of Indian Army’s offensive along the border.
He alluded to a rise in cross-border firing by India as part of a larger strategy to put pressure on Pakistan. “So, we have raised the ante by resorting to cross border firing which is leading to violations of ceasefire. “Earlier, the burden was only on us to man the border and remain alert and now the Pakistan Army is facing the same pain. They also have to now remain alert on the border,” the Army chief said.
Rawat said Pakistani posts supporting infiltrators must be “punished” and asserted that the increase in the ceasefire violations had compelled Pakistan to deploy more forces along the Line of Control, which was earlier in the hinterland or peace postings.
Recalling the time when borders were relatively calm and the ceasefire agreement was not being violated, Rawat said despite this the infiltration continued and there was no pressure on the Pakistani Army who aided and abetted infiltration across the LoC. The Army chief was speaking at an event organised by the Vivekanda International Foundation.
“Let me assure you, it is not just the Indian Army which is (alone) facing the brunt. People sitting across the LoC are suffering far more damage than what we are suffering,” the Army chief said. Government intelligence sources last year had said the Indian Army killed 138 Pakistan Army personnel in 2017 in tactical operations and retaliatory cross-border firings along the LoC.
In a response to a question in the Lok Sabha last year, Minister of State for Home Hansraj Gangaram Ahir had said in 2017, Pakistan violated ceasefire 881 times along the LoC and the IB in Jammu and Kashmir, killing 30 people. This was little less than double the ceasefire violations in 2016. The truce between India and Pakistan along the International Border and the LoC came into force in November 2003.
When asked about the continuing infiltration despite Indian forces showing deterrence, Rawat termed it as a “cheap option” by Pakistan. He, however, cautioned that if Islamabad raised the “threshold”, New Delhi would have the option of going to the next level. “And I think Pakistan is just about ensuring that they do not raise the threshold, but then the call as to when we want to raise the threshold rests with us. It is is in our hands to raise it, depending on how high we want to do it,” he said.
The ceasefire between India and Pakistan must come on Indian terms which means Pakistan has to stop supporting infiltration, the Army chief said. “You want a ceasefire and we are willing to go for a ceasefire but you stop supporting and infiltrating terrorists into our country. If you stop doing that we are willing to do that,” he said.
“So it must come on our terms. And those terms will come when they find that we have the potential to raise the ante. Gradually, if this does not work, (then) we can keep calibrating and raising the ante, till they find it that they cannot take it longer,” Rawat said.