Speculation on India-Pakistan Violence

Overnight 5 Indian soldiers were killed and another injured in an ambush along the Line of Control separating Indian- and Pakistani-administered Kashmir. Since 2003, the Line of Control has witnessed a mostly intact ceasefire. Indian officials publicly claim that some of the attackers were in Pakistan Army uniforms. People are angry, with some calling for the end of the ceasefire. What happened and why did it happen?

What happened? Without being overly pedantic, and in no particular order, it seems like three possibilities are most likely:

  • A group of mujahideen got lucky, and except for whatever “steady state” support provided by the Pakistan Army, the Pakistan military was not a major player in the episode. The reports of a Pakistan Army uniform are either incorrect or are reports of a uniform procured second-hand.
  • A local commander, in an action coordinated with militants, decided to take action with limited approval from senior commanders in Rawalpindi.
  • Rawalpindi, perhaps on its own initiative or perhaps responding to a request from a local commander, authorized the action.

I think we can dismiss as unlikely that the civilian Nawaz Sharif government authorized the action. More on that later.

Why did it happen? Again, a few possibilities.

  • No real reason. This really only makes sense under the “militants get lucky” scenario.
  • Something vaguely to do with Afghanistan, where India also suffered an attack against its consulate in Jalalabad on Saturday, August 3. As with past attacks against Indian interests in Afghanistan, there is widespread speculation that Pakistan was involved in the Saturday attack. For the longest exposition of a link between Afghanistan and last night’s LoC violence, see Praveen Swami’s post today. I think the connections are tenuous, though in the long run, if you assume a finite supply of Pakistani jihadists and if the war in Afghanistan is winding down, it certainly is possible that more will go east from Pakistan than north.
  • A tit-for-tat for an alleged Indian commando raid that snatched five men from Pakistan’s side of the Line of Control earlier this month. For the longest exposition of this hypothesis, see a different Praveen Swami post today. This might be consistent with other, recent rounds of cross-LoC violence, which also had this tit-for-tat feel.
  • Someone is trying to sabotage any peace process that might be brewing between Nawaz Sharif and Manmohan Singh. Indian and Pakistani diplomats were supposed to resume talks early next month, with an eye toward a planned meeting between Sharif and Singh on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly at the end of September. Such “spoiling” behavior has also been characteristic of past peace processes.

What is clear is that starting with the Jalalabad attack on Saturday and the LoC attack last night, it’s been a bad few days for India-Pakistan rapprochement.


4 thoughts on “Speculation on India-Pakistan Violence

  1. Regardless of how it happened and who is responsible for the provocative act, India’s response should be, and would be to make it even …… !

  2. One of the common misconceptions of scholars in West on Indo-Pak relations is that Pakistan’s civilian government is doing an overtime job on creating a framework for rapprochement with India. For Pakistan it is playing its due role as a failed and terrorist state. Civilian authority has no control over actions of any institutions not to mention Military. I fail to understand the reasons why we should continue to talk to somebody who has no authority over the entire territory. It will be a great service if we recall, through out its existence it remained and will continue to remain under the rule of Military Junta. And most of the population prefers to live under military regime. So much so that ever since it was formed only one so called civilian government could complete its actual term.

    To balance the asymmetry of warfare when it comes to confrontation with India it resorted to proxy wars. Lets not forget that Pakistan was formed on Hindu Hatred and constantly thrives on that premise. As far as the Congress Party concerned it always played Pak-Terrorist’s issue as a vote getter there by setting up a theory that by taking stern action on Pakistan it could lose Muslim votes in India, Indira Gandhi was an exception anyway. It is really painful to see people especially in academic world try to distinguish Pakistan Military and Terrorist groups which flourish there. Please remember especially when it comes to India there is no difference between Pak military and Pak terrorists.

    The leftist discourse has caused considerable damage to our response to Pakistan when ever they engage in such gruesome acts. Pakistan treats India/Bharath as a country which is inhabited by Hindus and converting it in to Darul Islam is their pious duty. India being a bustling democracy does not have a decisive leader in power to take decisive actions. Resources to retaliate was never an issue, armed forces is battle ready. Only when the Hindu Hatred is abolished from the minds of Pakistanis, peace is possible. But then with out the jaundiced Hindu-Hatred view terrorism industry will go bankrupt. And the Jihadi’s (Military & Terrorists) will never allow that to happen. I have spoken about this on why China and Pakistan can never be India’s friends.


  3. I find the last explanation the more likely, or at least the most immediate cause. While LoC incidents have been trending up in frequency, the last two major incidents were both timed unsurprising close to the expected date of CD talks.

  4. Reblogged this on Introduction to Comparative Politics, Fall 2013 and commented:
    As I was exploring the sites that Professor Allendoerfer provided for our class, I settled on this site, The Smoke-filled Room, because its writers are also students. While these happen to be graduate students, most certainly beyond the caliber of our freshman course, I find it intriguing to read posts and learn from people close to our own age.
    In reference to the actual article, what caught my eye at first was the format of the post. Bullet points aren’t uncommon among bloggers, however this post almost exclusively relies on them to deliver the message. This post identifies a conflict, specifically an ambush along the Line of Control separating Indian- and Pakistani-administered Kashmir a few weeks ago, and attempts to provide a what and why for the situation.
    The presentation of this post was refreshing because normally I would hear such a story through the media and news stations, which would report the bombing for an emotional pull, or through a politician, who would spin the bombing into a political weapon. The author of this blog post is merely seeking answers to what happened and why, a cause and effect scenario. This is how international relations should be viewed- in a systematic and logical breakdown of facts and hypotheses. This article pinpoints the lesson the Clark, Golder, and Golder text presented in the second chapter, What is Science? Here is an article that takes a reasonable and more scientific approach to understanding an international event.

    Elizabeth Wuller, The George Washington University

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