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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05NEWDELHI586
2005-01-24 12:36:00
SECRET
Embassy New Delhi
Cable title:  

PRESERVING THE LOC CEASEFIRE

Tags:   PREL  MOPS  IN  PK  INDO  PAK 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
						S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 NEW DELHI 000586 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/23/2015
TAGS: PREL MOPS IN PK INDO PAK

SUBJECT: PRESERVING THE LOC CEASEFIRE

Classified By: Ambassador David C. Mulford. Reasons 1.4 (B, D)

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 NEW DELHI 000586

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/23/2015
TAGS: PREL MOPS IN PK INDO PAK

SUBJECT: PRESERVING THE LOC CEASEFIRE

Classified By: Ambassador David C. Mulford. Reasons 1.4 (B, D)


1. (U) This is an action request for SA. Please see paragraph 7.


2. (S) The LOC ceasefire is one of the most important achievements in the slow but steady Indo-Pak rapproachement process that began in mid-2003 with former PM Vajpayee's ""Hand of Friendship"" speech, but without US engagement that accomplishment could soon founder. Despite shelling of the Indian side of the LOC twice in three days (January 18 and 20), both governments have responded in a measured and serious manner, conscious that the 14 months of silence along the LOC has come to symbolize the de-escalation of the Indo-Pak conflict, while providing tens of thousands of Kashmiris the longest respite from daily shelling since the 1999 Kargil War. The ceasefire, the first formally observed in peacetime between the two countries since 1947, has fueled hopes for broader progress in military CBMs. These instances of shelling, if they do not stop, could spill over into the Composite Dialogue and negatively affect the broad sense of goodwill that exists in India for fixing relations with Pakistan.


3. (S) Thus far, we see no indication that these two incidents were anything more than isolated cases. Senior GOI officials have played them down, giving Islamabad the benefit of the doubt and accepting for public consumption the explanation put forward by the Pakistani military that their forces had nothing to do with them (although doubt remains regarding the January 18 incident, which reportedly involved 82mm shells, an armament not known to be part of the militants' arsenal). Local discussion concerns primarily whether the firing originated from ""frustrated elements of the Pakistan army"" or insurgents bent on covering an infiltration attempt or retaliating against the Indian military for interdicting recent crossings.


4. (C) These ceasefire breaches coincide with renewed speculation about a resumption of cross border terrorist infiltration. In a front page story, ""The Hindu"" reported on January 24 that Indian troops are on high alert along the LOC following a spurt in infiltration attempts and intercepted radio messages indicating a buildup of terrorists in camps in Pakistani Kashmir. Author Luv Puri confirmed to us that one such message spoke of a ""passing out parade of 3,000 terrorists under the banner of the United Jihad Council.""


5. (S) Speaking January 24 with Polcouns, MEA Joint Secretary AK Singh (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran) indicated
SIPDIS that he was not yet ready to blame Islamabad for the resumption of shelling. However, he argued that at the very least the Pakistan military needs to explain how the firing had been allowed from sites very close to its encampments.
Some Indian officials have speculated that the January 20 incident may have been caused by terrorists seeking to provoke India into retaliating and wrecking the ceasefire.
Indian advocates of this line of thinking argue that the insurgents and hardline elements of the Pakistani armed forces want the ceasefire to break down. We leave it to Islamabad to assess the likelihood of this scenario, but Indian media have quoted General Officer Commanding, Northern Command, LtG Hari Prasad as saying that if this theory is accurate, the militants would have to have support from the Pakistani military, as ""shelling is not possible without the Pak army's help.""


6. (S) Regardless of who is responsible, there should be no ambiguity regarding the view of the United States regarding ceasefire breaches. With the Indian media reporting that Pakistan has agreed to probe these violations, the bilateral process of dealing with these blips is underway, attesting to the two countries' interest in dealing with the matter themselves. If further investigation should reveal strong evidence that the firing originated from the Pakistani military, or if further such incidents should be recorded, it would have a negative effect on the GOI pro-peace constituency, and undermine the New Delhi consensus to ignore the attacks, which COAS General NC Vij described as ""trivial"" and J&K Governor SK Sinha called ""an aberration"" on January 22. The GOI is likely to view the January 24 grenade attack against PDP President Mehbooba Mufti (she escaped uninjured)
as further evidence that Islamabad is in the process of loosening the reins on terrorist violence.


7. (S) Action recommendation: We urge the Department to issue a firm statement:
-- supporting the ceasefire;
-- reiterating our unequivocal opposition to cross border terrorist infiltration;
-- condemning the recent shelling, and;
-- reaffirming our support for the Composite Dialogue process.
MULFORD