I have known Dr. Happymon Jacob for many years. I first met him in a Pugwash meeting. His interest and expertise in matters relating to disarmament are well known.
The volume before us is baffling to the normal reader dealing as it does with matters that are much heard of but little understood. A little persistence does bring forth a different picture. Endorsements from two of our National Security Advisors, a Defence Secretary of Pakistan, and two of America’s best known experts on nuclear and South Asian matters makes its relevance evident.
The title of the book tells its own story. It relates to the line that separates the armed forces of India and Pakistan in Jammu & Kashmir. This is not the occasion to go into its history except to say that it originated in 1949 and was then designated as the Cease Fire Line (CFL). The war of 1971 and the Simla Agreement of July 1972 re-designated it, significantly, as the Line of Control.
This study is an analysis of the happenings along the LoC in different periods and the tactics adopted by the two sides in responding to them. They teach much to the specialists, less so to the uninitiated.
It is evident that as in other similar cases elsewhere in the world, the continuance of a ceasefire line however designated signifies lack of permanence and the inability of the parties to arrive at a settlement that would convert a ceasefire or an armistice into a peace settlement and recognized international boundaries.
Dr. Happymon Jacob draws some pertinent conclusions. He highlights the ‘escalatory danger emanating from CFVs (ceasefire violations) by autonomous military factors’ and poses two questions: (a) have the political classes in the two countries recognized the danger? And (b) has there been an abdication of responsibility by the politico-military classes on both sides with regard to the management of the LoC and the international border? He suggests that ‘there is an emergent situation wherein the political class utilizes what happens on the LoC/IB for its partisan political benefit and adds that this did not happen in earlier periods. The author draws certain conclusions from these; I leave it to the panelists to dilate on these and related matters.
The longest chapter of the book explaining why ceasefire violations take place runs into 85 pages and is captioned ‘Military Gamesmanship and Moral Ascendency.’ Our author asserts that ‘Indo-Pak rapprochement and talks on Kashmir provide for a quiet Indo-Pak border.
It is difficult to disagree with this proposition.