It was done once again. In the last fortnight, we have seen one of the biggest ceasefire violations between India and Pakistan for the first time since the Kargil war took place in 1999. This was preceded after killing of five Indian soldiers who were on a patrol duty to guard the Indian borders, which were attacked by army personnel and supported by the non-state actors. This led to massive firing from across the border by the Pakistani army personnel to let infiltrate terrorists from their side of LOC. (Line of Control).
This vernacular media in India reacted actively and pent up the emotions across the nation. With election year round the corner, the Opposition party took the chance to attack the UPA government on the issue of national security and laxity in handling the ceasefire violations. The right wing party BJP leader Narender Modi saw this opportunity to attack PM Manmohan Singh and his lacksaidal attitude on dealing with issues of national security.
Negative peace is defined as absence of violence; on the other hand Positive peace is equated with harmony absence of structural or indirect violence. - Johan Galtung
As an observer of peace and conflict studies it really intrigues me to write on the recent cease fire violations on the LOC, which has marks of disrupting the peace process between both the countries.
We could fault either side for the cease-fire violation, but the sufferer in all this is the peace process, which takes a lot of time to reach a point and then one terrorist incident or ceasefire violation to bring it back to square one. These incidents happen on the backdrop of slated Manmohan Singh and Nawaz Sharif meeting to revive the composite dialogue on the side-lines of UN General Assembly meeting in September.
Theoretically speaking, ceasefire violation could be a classic case where in framework of positive and negative peace may find some relevance. As opined by Johan Galtung (Mathematician turned sociologist-peace theorist) who had devised the concepts of positive and negative peace. To apply these concepts in case of India and Pakistan remains a possibility.
To quote from Galtung, negative peace is defined as absence of violence; on the other hand Positive peace is equated with harmony absence of structural or indirect violence. He goes on further to define four forms of positive peace which are; Direct positive peace; Structural positive peace; Cultural positive peace. In case of India and Pakistan, relevant form could be structural positive peace which includes; non-homocentric peace, intra-interpersonal peace, development, parity, equity, peace regions, governance, cultural co-existence and sustainability from above. (Galtung—1996-pp-33)
The relations between India and Pakistan may not have reached a complete circle in the context of negative and positive peace. There have been traces from the past, where attempts to make peace have been carried out by its political class, due to terrorist incidents or border skirmishes both nations have come back to status-quoist mode.
Efforts were on from both sides to bring back derailed peace process ever since the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008. Structural peace was constructed in the form of agreement on a composite dialogue slated for next month. After these skirmishes on the LOC, revival of peace process seems to be in limbo. During the status quoist phase between both the countries, traces of positive peace could be seen; this could be gauged from the political statements from the political elites. With the present incident on the border, we have chance of positive peace dipping back to negative peace not in truly Galtungian sense, rather through firing along the border posts by respective armies and then ceasefire. These incidents will have a long term impact on the political peace process, due to change in public opinion and tendencies of retaliation and retribution amongst either of the communities.
It is a known fact there are various non-state actors in Pakistan which are working against India in Pakistan, which the former have taken up in discussions with their Pakistani counterparts. A big problem in this case remains a simple denial from the other party to accept presence of non-state actors. Rhetorical statements are issued every now and then to calm the nerves, but situation on the ground remains the same. In such a scenario, how do we construct peace?
Structural peace process does not come naturally in the case of India and Pakistan; it needs to be manufactured step by step. Similar attempts were being made by the political class; this could be seen from the positive vibes from newly anointed PM of Pakistan Mian Nawaz Sharif. Until the ceasefire violations began to take place in the summer months on the Line of Control making the process haywire and thus began the shifting of pendulum from positive structural peace to negative peace.
Media and political parties have been eyeing the head of soft spoken Defence minister Mr. A.K. Antony. Immense pressure from the Opposition parties in India as well as the media led him to give a strong statement in the Upper-house of Parliament. Antony blamed the Pakistan army for ceasefire violations as well killing of five Indian soldiers on the border post by the Pakistan army led Border Action Team (BAT) which contained mix of Pakistan military and non-state actors. This deadly cocktail of Pakistan army and non-state actors if sustains for longer period, we could see escalation of conflict between the two.
Although some optimism still remains on the Indian side for not shelving off the talks this can be read from no statement from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) who have refused to comment on the ceasefire violations and left for the Ministry of Defence to do the hard talk.
Peace process has taken a hit up-teem times between both the countries in the past. They have come to square one from conflict prevention to conflict and vice versa. An account of this was given by Steve Coll in the New Yorker article, “The Back-channel” which described the manner in which representative from the Indian side Amb. Satinder Lambah and Pakistani representative Tariq Aziz practically went on to solve all the pending issues including Kashmir in back-channels talks held in Bangkok, Dubai, London. Then came the regime change in Pakistan and Musharraf was ousted from power and things went back to square one.
Are we entering another face of confrontation or freezing of peace talks? To take cognizance from independent Pakistan researcher Ayesha Siddiqua who has equated conflict between both the countries to the game theory model. In a sense she says, India may protest but has limited capacity to raise the cost for Pakistan due to the fear of nuclear mutual assured destruction in place. To perceive of this sort of connotation could be strategic in nature. At the base level it has to be understood peace needs to move on from conflict prevention to transformation stage and status –quoist position is not a way forward in all senses.
 Siddiqua A., Indo-Pakistan conflict and the national Egos, Tehelka Magazine-Issue 35, Volume-10, 24-08-2013.