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Big guns fall silent on LoC, dip in intensity of ceasefire violations

For nearly three months now, the Line of Control (LoC) between India and Pakistan has seen a sharp decline in the intensity of ceasefire violations, with use of high calibre weapons, including artillery guns, coming to a halt. Government officials suggest that it is due to “induced behavioural change” in the Pakistan Army, following the Balakot air strike by the Indian Air Force.

Even though the number of ceasefire violations have only come down from 267 in March to 181 in June, the bigger shift has been in the way both sides have chosen to desist from any “calibre escalation”. Calibre escalation refers to incremental use of weapons of higher calibre to respond to a ceasefire violation — a small arms fire being responded by a mortar, which can then lead to use of Anti Tank Guided Missiles and eventually artillery guns.

“We can say that there has been a reduction in ceasefire violations and calibre escalations have stopped since April. This has happened after Balakot (air strike), and it is an induced behavioural change,” a top government official told The Indian Express.

The first few months of the year had seen exceptionally high intensity of activity on the LoC, with both sides resorting to frequent use of artillery guns to target the other side, the official said, and this has now been brought down. The data which is put out gives only the number of ceasefire violations, and does not convey the intensity or type of violation.

“Small arms firing on the LoC is par for the course. It can be understood in the context in which the deployment is there. It is still there. It is the calibre escalation to ATGMs and artillery that was very high, which has stopped now,” the official said.

A major step in achieving this has been the increased use of hotlines in the field by both armies, the official said, in addition to the regular weekly hotline conversation between the two DGMOs. These hotlines between local commanders on the LoC had fallen into complete disuse over the past few years and their revival can help resolve many contentious issues at the local level, the official said.

Ceasefire on the LoC between India and Pakistan was agreed upon by the two countries in November 2003, and continued to hold till after the 2016 surgical strikes conducted by Indian Special Forces following the terror attack on the Uri brigade which left 19 soldiers dead. Since then, the number of ceasefire violations have increased and India has been proactive in initiating action on the LoC.

While there were a total of 228 ceasefire violations on the LoC in 2016, the number shot up to 860 in 2017 and 1629 in 2018. Until June-end, 1321 ceasefire violations have already been recorded this year. There is no data available for the ceasefire violations giving the use of weapons of higher calibre, including use of artillery guns on the LoC.

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