New Delhi, Oct. 30: The “unusual” increase in the number of ceasefire violations on the border with Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir is a matter of concern because the Pakistani army was backing infiltrators, defence minister A.K. Antony said here today.
Indian forces had observed that militants trying to sneak in were better equipped and trained to sustain themselves for long periods. This betrayed a lack of sincerity in Islamabad to pursue peace with India.
“We are repeatedly telling them that India wants improvement in relations. If they are sincere (about improving relations), how can this infiltration take place,” the defence minister wondered. He was speaking to journalists on the sidelines of a South Asian security conference hosted by the Institute for Defence and Strategic Analysis (IDSA) here this morning.
The defence minister’s remarks today are the strongest from the highest echelons of the Indian government and pins the blame for violence along the Line of Control and the International Boundary squarely on the Pakistan Army.
On September 29 — a month ago — Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and Nawaz Sharif agreed in New York that the director generals of military operations (DGMOs) would meet to work out the modalities for peace on the border.
There has been little effort since that decision but the violations have continued. The political positions in New Delhi and Islamabad have also hardened.
“I am confident that our security forces are able to meet any challenges. They are handling the situation very effectively and are on 24X7 guard there. So, they will handle it and they have the freedom. That is the standard operating procedure. Rest assured of the capability and commitment of the armed forces,” the defence minister said.
Antony said the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) with China signed during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Beijing last week would allow both sides to address disputes on the frontier “as quickly as possible”.
He said there was no guarantee that the kind of situation that occurred in eastern Ladakh in April this year — after a Chinese patrol pitched tents in territory claimed by India — would not happen again.
“It’s not just China, on any issue, I am not a prophet or an astrologer. I cannot say anything that will happen for years to come. Only thing is, I feel there is a sincere attempt from both sides to improve the border situation and also to avoid tensions,” he said.
The BDCA would enable more military-to-military connections not only at the highest level but also at the field level, Antony expected.