July 17, 2018

Descriptive Summary

The Line of Control (LoC) and the International Border (IB)/Working Boundary (WB) between India and Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) have witnessed repeated ceasefire violations over the past many years. Indeed, with the new low in the relations between India and Pakistan, ceasefire violations have gone up exponentially. These ceasefire violations have the potential to not only begin a crisis but also to escalate an ongoing crisis, especially in the aftermath of terror incidents. Indeed, barring the terror attack on Mumbai in 2008 and the Uri attacks in September 2016, ceasefire violations have been the single-most prominent trigger of tensions and conflict escalation between New Delhi and Islamabad in the past decade. In other words, ceasefire violations could lead to conflict escalation between the two countries even in the absence of other triggers. To make things worse, in the event of such violations, political leadership on either side often engage in high-pitched rhetoric some of which even have nuclear undertones.

What causes ceasefire violations? India offers a uni-causal explanation: ceasefire is violated by the Pakistani side to provide covering fire to terrorists infiltrating into the Indian side of J&K. Pakistan, on the other hand, blames India of engaging in unprovoked firing targeted at civilian population. A closer look at the ceasefire violations in the past decade tells thatsuch violations have multiple causes most of which go unnoticed and not taken up by the two governments for resolution. These include: Construction, repair or enhancement of defence works on either side of the dividing line by the respective forces; lack of a proper mechanisms to regulate the crossing of civilians from one side to the other; rare lack of territorial clarity as to which piece of land falls on whose side which arises due to an absence of proper territorial demarcation of the LOC, and; reaction to political and diplomatic developments on either side.

This project documents, and analyses the trends, patterns and major causes of ceasefire violations between India and Pakistan, and examines the linkage between ceasefire violations and escalation dynamics. The project is an attempt to also suggest policy recommendations for the Indian and Pakistani governments on what needs to be done to reduce the ceasefire violations and control crisis escalation in the subcontinent.