(MENAFN- Kashmir Observer)
SOON after becoming Pakistan's new army chief, General Syed Asim Munir, during a visit to the Line of Control, said the military was ready to defend“every inch of our motherland” if attacked. He was apparently referring to Northern Army Commander Lt General Upendra Dwivedi's recent statement in which he said thar Army will carry out any order given by the government of India about retrieving the parts of Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan illegally occupied by Pakistan. Lt General Dwivedi was reacting to the defence minister Rajnath Singh's statement earlier expressing India's resolve to capture Pakistani-controlled parts of Kashmi. Speaking on October 27 to celebrate the landing of Indian soldiers in the former state on the same day in 1947, Singh said the mission of full integration of J&K that started on August 5, 2019“will complete when Gilgit-Baltistan and areas of the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) will reunite with India.” Earlier, speaking in June on the occasion of Kargil Divas in Jammu, Singh famously said that“if Amarnath is on this side, how can Maa Sharda remain on the other”.
Pakistani Kashmir has grown in importance over time in India's strategic calculus because of its location. It shares borders with Pakistan's Punjab, North-West Frontier Provinces, the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan to the north-west, China's Xinjiang province to the north, and Jammu and Kashmir to the east. If anything, the escalating threats and counter-threats between the two nations reflects the dismal state of India's relations with Pakistan which has currently been plunged into chaos following ousted Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan's protest march during which he survived an assassination bid. One fallout of this troubled situation in the country is that there is no hope for an India, Pakistan dialogue. The three and a half years of Khan's term saw relations between the two neighbors nosedive.
Going forward, the situation looks bleak. Should Shabaz Sharif's government continue, there will be little chance of the relations between India and Pakistan reviving in the near to medium future. The defence minister's PoK remarks reveal that India is no longer hampered by the violence in Kashmir but seeks to take the offensive into the part of the territory occupied by Pakistan. A war between the two countries is not in the interest of either country. The war will also hurl the region into prolonged instability, a fraught prospect for its 1.7 billion people. Best course for the two nations is to enter into a dialogue and work to resolve their issues. This alone will usher in a long-term peace in the region.
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