As dust settles on the latest stand-off between Indian and Pakistani troops along the Line of Control (LoC), it is important to understand Pakistan's motivations for ratcheting up tensions along the LoC. While a ceasefire has been in place since November 2003, this has been increasingly violated from 2009 onwards, coinciding with the departure of Gen. Musharraf, who had initiated the arrangement. Clearly, Pakistan's army wants to have nothing to do with Musharraf's legacy. They want to shift the focus from the ongoing ‘peace process', back to the LoC, for a number of reasons.
Although Musharraf had initiated the Kargil misadventure to defy the sanctity of the LoC, like his predecessor Gen. Zia had attempted in Siachen, the LoC ironically became sanctified during the Kargil conflict, after US president Bill Clinton insisted that Pakistan must respect the LoC, in keeping with India's stand (since the Shimla accord of 1972) that Kashmir was a bilateral issue. This has been endorsed by some former secretaries-general of the United Nations. But Pakistan is still unwilling to accept the LoC as the de facto boundary in Jammu and Kashmir, being obsessed as it is with the UN resolution of 1948 over the Kashmir issue, Pakistan's best bonding adhesive.
In fact, the UN resolution of August 13, 1948 was not fully implemented because of Pakistan. The three-part resolution had asked for (a) both armies to enforce a ceasefire, which was done; (b) Pakistan's withdrawal from the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir, which Pakistan refused to undertake; and (c) a plebiscite, after Pakistan withdrew to India's satisfaction, to determine the will of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistanis have, however, been made to believe that the ‘resolution' was only about the ‘plebiscite'.
This explains Pakistan's repeated attempts to get the UN involved in the Kashmir issue, and the current flare-up is the latest in a long line of Pakistani initiatives to draw the world's attention to Pakistan's claims over Kashmir. It was no coincidence that Pakistan was the president of the UN Security Council in January, and it wanted to use all its influence in this temporary position, to draw the UN back into the debate on Kashmir.
Equally important for Pakistan was that it was an opportunity to get India agitated and cite India's anger following the gruesome killing and mutilation of Indian soldiers, to convey to the US, in particular, that Pakistan needed to pull back its troops from the Af-Pak region on its western border, to the LoC on its eastern border, in response to India's possible military retaliation. As the US looks for a face-saving exit from Afghanistan and expects Pakistan to take up the management of Afghanistan post-2014, the generals in Rawalpindi are keen to extract whatever they can from Washington, in this period of American insecurity.
And finally, for the Pakistan army, which was discredited after the US raided Abbottabad and eliminated Osama bin Laden, the LoC stand-off was an opportunity to reestablish its credentials as the ‘guardians of Pakistan'. More importantly, with elections slated for later this year and the increasing possibility of Pakistan's first ever transfer of power from one elected government to another, the army is keen to play the king-maker's role. By doing so, it can not only protect its preeminent role in Pakistan, but also retain its huge budgetary allocations, by playing up the threat from India.
Raza is a strategic affairs expert.