There has been a dramatic rise in firing incidents across the Line of Control (LoC) since India attacked the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir training camps in September, the Indian Express reported. A policy of retaliatory fire against the Pakistani Army has not done much to stop the attacks on the LoC. Data gathered by the Jammu & Kashmir government shows that between January to June 21, 2017 there have been 124 instances of cross-fires between the two armies. Notably, last year in the same time period only five such exchanges took place. The surgical strike led by the Narendra Modi government has incited a new wave of attacks by machine guns and mortar, stated the Indian Express. Pakistani Border Action Teams (BAT) have also ambushed the army men on patrol. On June 23, two soldiers were killed in a BAT ambush in the Poonch district. In the retaliatory fire a Poonch resident, Naseem Akhter and Abdul Wahab, who lived in Nakyal across the LoC, died. The report also stated that in 2016 the first six months before the strikes were quiet, after which the firing incidents rose to a whopping 227.
The rise has been steady across the decade with 79 incidents in 2012, 236 in 2013, 226 in 2014, and 279 in 2015, according to the state government data. These fire exchanges pose a great risk to the civilians. The rise in fire exchanges can be attributed to how the government has responded to those attacks, said the report. PM Modi had said that the enemy will have to change their old habits as they would not be tolerated. His authorisation of using force to retaliate instead of engaging in a dialogue steps away from past government decisions, according to the Indian Express.
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Ajai Sahni, director of the Institute of Conflict Management in New Delhi told the paper that the fire-exchanges do not have any strategic purpose and are only to show a nationalist stand of the two countries. A senior army official said in a similar vein that both the sides are in a cycle of tit-for-tat retaliation with neither side eager to withdraw. Indian army deployed across the LoC is overwhelmingly large with 2,00,000-2,25,000 troops, compared to Pakistan. Pakistan’s Army Chief, General Asim Bajwa has put Kashmir higher up on his agenda. He also ordered retaliation against the Indian defences rather than backing off.