In Toba Tek Singh, the Urdu short story writer Saadat Hassan Manto questions if Partition meant everyone had gone mad – so much so that a mentally ill person was perhaps the sanest person around. In seven decades, not much has changed. The craziness of the two subcontinental twins is captured by the recent raids by the Indian Army in the early hours of Thursday. Till now, India and Pakistan – like most belligerents – have always fought over who first crossed each other’s borders. This time, it’s been turned on its head.
The Line of Control is a ceasefire line established by the Simla Agreement in 1972. India claims it, in effect, broke the Simla Agreement on Thursday when it conducted a surgical strike on terror camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Pakistan, on the other hand, vigorously disagrees and says the Indian Army did not violate the LoC. Rawalpindi claims India stuck to the Simla Agreement and lawfully fired at Pakistani positions from behind its side of the line.
The weirdness doesn’t end here. On the same day that India conducted its surgical strikes, the Pakistani Army captured an Indian soldier, Chandu Babulal Chavan, in Pakistani-occupied Kashmir. In 1999, during the Kargil, while Rawalpindi had denied it crossed the LoC, India has proved that the Pakistani Army was indeed involved in the incursion by using the dead bodies of Pakistani soldiers.
One might expect a mirror image of 1999 to play out. But remember, Pakistan’s official stand is that India never crossed the LoC during its surgical strike on Thursday. Therefore, while in the normal course of things, a captured solider would be proof of an LoC violation during India’s surgical strike, Pakistan this time made no such allegation given that it claims India didn’t even conduct a surgical strike to begin with.
In fact, initially, even Pakistan’s media was confused, with some outlets reporting that no Indian soldier was captured – but then eventually the capture was recognised officially by both India and Pakistan.
Claims and counter claims
India, on the other hand claims, its surgical strikes saw no casualties and no soldiers were left behind. Delhi denies that the soldier was involved in the surgical strike. Chavan, the Indian Army claims, crossed the Line of Control in anger after an argument with his superior. Given that there is little chance of Chavan being released in the near future as a result of that current state of tension between the two countries, this tale is a stark example of the pitfalls of having a temper.
Pakistan has refused to believe India’s story. While the embarrassment of admitting that India conducted a successful surgical strike meant it denied that the event ever occurred, in the case of Chavan – now that he’s been captured – Rawalpindi is happy to accuse India of trying to violate the LoC. Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United Nations Dr Maleeha Lodhi has said he was captured “while trying to enter into Pakistani territory”.
To sum up: for the surgical strikes India all but claimed it had crossed the LoC but Pakistan denied the claim. However, the very next day, the two twins reversed their stands. In the case of Chavan, Pakistan claims India was trying to violate the LoC but now India claims it wasn’t.
When it comes to India and Pakistan, there’s never a dull moment.