Implications of a Complete Sealing of the India-Pakistan Border

Home Minister Rajnath Singh has recently declared that the entire India-Pakistan border is to be completely sealed by December 2018. The announcement may be viewed in the context of India-Pakistan relations reaching a particular low and uncertain threshold post the Uri incident and cross-Line of Control (LoC) operations by India on 28-29 September 2016. The above-referred decision of the Union Government is reported to have been taken after a review of gaps in border management by a high-level Committee on Security and Border Protection (CSBP) of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) (popularly known as the Madhukar Gupta Committee) set up in March 2016 to overcome the lacunae observed consequent on the Gurdaspur and Pathankot infiltration occurrences. The outcome of the review is likely to have influenced the decision on setting 2018 as the target for a total sealing of the border. As of now, Pakistan Government sources have indicated that they have no comments on this development given the absence of details. Some Chinese think-tank commentators have, however, observed that such a venture would be irrational, indicative of Cold War mentality and likely to complicate relations among China, India and Pakistan, without elucidating as to how this decision would impinge on Chinese interests.

Government sources have indicated that a border security grid with a provision for real-time monitoring of the entire length of the border and capability for intervention as necessary is to be put in place. This will obviously involve networked coordination among the states’ home departments and their police authorities, their Central counterparts, MHA and the agencies responsible for technical and electronic surveillance. Furthermore, the works authorities at the central and state levels will have to be involved in the logistics of the forces assigned to protect the border, border fencing, sensors being installed, and providing access road network to the border outposts. It is, however, not clear whether a physical infrastructure in the form of a wall or obstacles on the pattern of the Israeli West Bank defences (in Israeli-occupied Palestine territory) is to be eventually erected.

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Uri attack: There are no military options that will give India the outcome it wants

India does not have too many good options in responding to the militant raid that killed 17 Indian army personnel, perhaps the largest number ever for a single day of the Kashmiri insurgency that began in 1990.

Sure, you can break down the responses and see what works. First the military — an army raid across the Line of Control, an army incursion across the international border with Pakistan, a naval blockade of Karachi, an air strike on the Jaish headquarters in Bahawalpur, an air strike on camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Second, the diplomatic — a UN Security Council condemnation and sanctions, sanctions by friendly countries like the US, Japan, UK and Germany, and a few Gulf countries. All of the above have been thought about and have not got us anywhere.

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Floods in Kashmir ignite India-Pakistan goodwill diplomacy

As floods and landslides continue to wreak havoc in Jammu and Kashmir, India and Pakistan have put aside their recent diplomatic acrimony and extended a helping hand to each other in this time of unfolding human tragedy.

Late monsoon rains have trigged massive floods on either sides of the Line of Control (LoC) that divide the two halves of Kashmir, inundating hundreds of villages. According to reports, over 270 people have died in India and Pakistan.

The death toll in India is reported to have crossed 160 with around 5000 homes destroyed. Srinagar, the capital of India’s northern state of Jammu and Kashmir, too, have been inundated by flood water in the worst floods in over 60 years.

In what is being termed as “flood aid diplomacy” by Pakistan’s media, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote a personal letter to Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to express condolences and offered humanitarian assistance to Islamabad for relief and rescue operations.

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