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Making Sense Of Loc: Internal Politics & Bilateral Firings

By Expert Author: Suba Chandran

Why have our Line of Control (LoC) and the international border in J&K has suddenly become violent? After ceasing fire for almost a decade, what has substantially changed between India and Pakistan that is echoing along the LoC/IB in J&K? Especially, when there is a democratically elected government and the civil society at large in Pakistan prefer a positive bilateral relationship between the two countries? On its part, even if the Congress government has not made positive utilization of the ceasefire, certainly has never wanted to derail the process. So why has our LoC become violent now?

Primary reasons are on the other side of the LoC and international border, especially over the relationship between the military and the elected government under Nawaz Sharif. It is no secret that the relationship between Nawaz Sharif and the military, despite the efforts by his brother Shabaz Sharif, is not positive. Though the Sharifs were the product and protégés of the military and its ISI in the late 1980s and 90s, the relationship has changed dramatically between the two, when Nawaz Sharif sacked Jehangir Karamat and also his successor Pervez Musharraf. While Karamat left silently, a gentleman officer he is, his successor, the Commando staged a coup and imprisoned Sharif. The relationship between the PML-N and the military ever since is well known to everyone.

Before and after his electoral victory, Nawaz Sharif has been openly advocating better Indo-Pak relations, for two simple reasons. First, he is well aware, as a businessman, given the economic situation within Pakistan, he cannot pursue a hostile strategy towards India. A better relationship, especially over trade, J&K and gas pipelines will substantially help Pakistan. Second, he is also well aware, a positive relationship with India will also undermine military’s inputs into foreign policy making, especially relating to New Delhi and J&K.

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