10 Years of Peace
The ceasefire may have its benefits, but it has induced a defensive mind-set in the Indian Army

Reinstating the fence

26 November 2013 was the 10th anniversary of the ceasefire on the Line of Control (LC), a good time to do stock-taking on how well it has held and how the two sides have fared.

A unilateral ceasefire on the LC was declared by the Pakistani military ruler General Pervez Musharraf on 24 November 2003. Caught in a bind to follow suit by demonstrating its goodwill towards the people of Jammu and Kashmir and to re-enforce its peace credentials, India not only readily accepted it, but also extended it to include Siachen (the 76km long Actual Ground Position Line or AGPL). Thus, the artillery or long range guns and small arms fire stopped on the LC and the AGPL on 26 November 2003, that Eid day a decade ago.

The calm on the LC was, however, shattered by the massive earthquake with the epicentre in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) in 2005; the natural calamity rendered the LC irrelevant as defences crumpled with many soldiers getting buried alive under the rubble. The Pakistani side suffered heavy losses, with a few analysts in India suggesting that the nation should have taken advantage of the virtually non-existent Pakistani defences and adjusted the LC to own tactical advantage. This, of course, was not done.

Once the initial shock of what had befallen was over, tasks on the Pakistani side were clearly defined. The Laskhar-e-Tayabba focussed on providing succour to local inhabitants while the Pakistani Army concentrated on rebuilding its defences, better and stronger than what had existed previously. Special attention was paid by the Pakistan Army to construct Steel Permanent Defences (capable of taking a direct hit of 105mm artillery round) and communication trenches. On the other hand, the Indian Army, on whose side the damage was less, did minimal to improve its defences. It focussed instead on assisting border villages with reconstruction of houses and schools, in the strategy of winning the hearts and mind of the people. During a visit of FORCE team to Tithwal in 2008, where Indian and POK villages are separated by a mere river, contrast on the two sides was unmistakable.
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