Kashmir, the disputed territory is the bone of contention between India and Pakistan. The two countries are at daggers drawn since the ‘contested’ instrument of accession was signed by Maharaja of Kashmir on 26 October 1947 to accede to the domain of India. The two nations have fought militarily confrontations and regularly enter into verbal wars. The border skirmishes that have made the lives of the people living along Indo-Pak border miserable are the outcome of this unending conflict.

India and Pakistan agreed upon the ceasefire in 2003, which worked for years. Both sides renounced the practice of firing at each other wantonly. And, people living near LOC who find themselves caught in direct line of fire heaved a sigh of relief then. Some people returned to their forsaken homes, hoping that peace will persist. But all this was short-lived. The cross-border fighting resumed only after years and is going on, though sporadically.

On April 12, 2020, again, the shocking incident happened along the Line of Control that consumed innocent lives and left several injured. This incident took place when the rest of the world is battling surging corona virus outbreaks.

Whenever there has been cross-border shelling, both nations have engaged in blame-game. India blames Pakistan and vice-versa. In the recent incident, too, nothing was unusual. Indian army accused Pakistan military of Shelling and firing and claimed Pakistan has violated ceasefire 411 times in March. Contrarily, the Pakistan army asserted that ‘they don’t initiate ceasefire violations along Loc, but they have always responded to Indian Army’s unprovoked firing’. Further, according to the PR wing of the Pakistan Army, there have been 705 ceasefire violations by the Indian Army since the outset of the year. Thus, both instead of taking responsibility blame one another for violation of the agreement.

Natives living close to Line of Control also do not speak much and open about who started the firing. The common masses also are in quandary pertaining to this question.

It hardly matters which country starts firing but the damage caused by it does matter because, on both sides of the border, common people are suffering. Besides becoming cannon fodder, their villages and nearby areas are mostly strewn with landmines, making them vulnerable. Border fighting leads to the destruction of their homes and properties. They constantly live under the threat. Most often, they have to dislocate and displace to protect themselves from frequent shelling and firing, which has taken a toll on their psychological health. This has also deprived them of education and healthcare.

There is no denial of the fact that cross-border fighting has a grave impact on the environment as well. It is damaging the natural environment to a great amount. Many a time, forest-fire is triggered by heavy shelling. It affects badly on local flora and fauna. However, when human life is trivial for us, how can we be concerned about the environment? With the result, this negative aspect of cross-border fighting is always ignored.

The question that arises here is what is the solution? As mentioned the root cause of the conflict between the two neighbors is Kashmir. This protracted and bitter dispute is the main reason behind the roaring of guns on LOC. Until Kashmir dispute is existing there seems to be no chance for peace. India government, unfortunately, intends to kick the Kashmir issue into the long grass and is in no mood to address this problem according to the people’s aspirations or any bilateral agreements. Indian state does not recognize Kashmir as an issue and feigns like Kashmir problem does not exist. And for some politicians in Kashmir and Pakistan, Kashmir is merely a cash cow. It is another question that people are facing the worst times for seven decades.

In point of fact, the only wearer knows where the shoe pinches. The people who are at receiving end of this clash only know how ghastly this problem is. Had anyone been concerned about the lives of people that this conflict is devouring, there had been a major and favorable shift in the policies of two nuclear powers to settle the issue.

Many recommendations have been put forth to put an end to the rancor, persisting between neighboring countries. Many efforts have been made to ensure calmness on the border. But all recommendations and efforts have been otiose so far and the future also appears uncertain with regard to any positive development.

Nevertheless, the question that strikes mind repeatedly is how long would people of this land (Kashmir) continue to die because of this strife? How long innocents would bear its brunt. Should they stop thinking about a better life? Should they accept it once for all that they are here to face miseries? Only a human can ponder over these queries.

Moreover, presently we are caught in humanitarian crises. A dramatic surge in Covid-19 cases has already panicked people and random firing on Line of Control is adding to the woes of people living there. It seems vile that in these hard times, Indo-Pak forces are wreaking havoc on the population on either side of the border and accusing each other of provocation.

In the current situation, rather than putting the already-vulnerable population at peril, we must brush off controversy and support each other in the fight against Covid-19. The regimes of two nations must make concerted bid to stop cross-border confrontations.

At this crucial time, peace must be given a chance to thrive so that problems of masses are not exacerbated. Also, there is a need to rectify the wrong and work for the peaceful resolution of the Kashmir so that people across the state will live happier life that had otherwise remained a dream. But when is the only question!

ZEESHAN  RASOOL  KHAN , writes on current socio-political issues and can be mailed at mohdzeeshan605@gmail.com


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