The ceasefire agreement reached between India and Pakistan in November 2003 is now unrecognizable, with firing growing steadily since late 2012. Monday’s attack on a police station in the Punjabi town of Gurdaspur, signals a new uptick in violence. The Pakistani press has blamed Kashmiri extremists for the attack, but this could well be the work of a group like the Lashkar e-Taiba. Diplomatic overtures between Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif have been high on visuals, low on substance, and limited to multilateral settings. Conditions are ripe for a crisis in this strained environment, even more so if a terrorist attack on Indian soil-such as Monday’s-is traced back to extremist groups supported by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). These rising tensions make crisis management more difficult and increase the risk of a conflict with nuclear dimensions.
Prime Minister Modi’s government has warned Pakistan that it would respond severely to provocations-whether along the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir or elsewhere. During the election campaign, Modi took a hard line on Pakistan, criticizing the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government’s “weak stand.” In May 2015, government officials were forced to downplay Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s comments on neutralizing “terrorists with terrorists only.” Regarding the Line of Control, in October 2014, then-Defence Minister Arun Jaitley threatened to inflict “unaffordable” costs on Pakistan. In December 2014, Parrikar said that if attacked, Indian forces would “react with double the force.” These deterrent threats-to respond manifold to violence-have failed to diminish violence.
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