There have been two very serious incidents across the Line of Control (LOC) in Jammu and Kashmir.
· PAKISTANI STATEMENT: One Pakistani soldier was killed on January 6,2013, in an alleged Indian raid on a Pakistani Army post. On January 7, the Pakistani Foreign Office in Islamabad protested over the incident to the Indian Deputy High Commissioner. According to the Indian version of this incident, on January 6,Pakistani troops fired mortar shells at Indian Army posts in the Uri sector to help insurgents infiltrate into India. The Indian Army had retaliated.
· INDIAN STATEMENT: Two Indian soldiers were killed and two others injured on the morning of January 8, when Pakistani army troops entered Indian territory near Mendhar, about 220 KMs north of Jammu, and attacked an Indian post. The body of one of the Indian soldiers was found decapitated and the severed head was missing. The Pakistani Army has denied the allegations and described them as Indian propaganda to divert attention from the incident of Jan.6.
2.There was a similar incident of decapitation when Gen.Pervez Musharraf was the Chief of the Army Staf (COAS) under then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in 1999.Ilyas Kashmiri,a former member of the Special Services Group (SSG) of the Pakistan Army, and his men entered Indian territory, killed an Indian soldier, decapitated him and carried his head as a trophy to Pakistan. He allegedly presented the head to Musharraf who congratulated him and his men and rewarded them. The incident was reported in sections of the Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir media.
3.Musharraf’s action in receiving Ilyas Kashmiri and rewarding him indicated the Pakistan Army’s complicity in the incident. The Indian Army reportedly believes strongly that there was Pakistan Army’s complicity in the latest incident too.
4.The two incidents indicate the continuing fragile and sensitive nature of the trans-LOC ground realities. The incidents appear to have been handled till now at the Army-Army level through the existing hotline between the Directors-General of Military Operations of the two countries.
5.The serious nature of the latest incidents underline the need for a political hotline between the Prime Minister of India and the President of Pakistan to supplement the existing hotline between the DGMOs to ensure prompt political handling of such trans-LOC incidents amenable to escalation detrimental to peace in the area. ( 9-1-13)
( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org . Twitter: @SORBONNE75 )