Relations between India and Pakistan have been complex and largely hostile due to a number of historical and political events. Relations between the two states have been defined by the violent partition of British India in 1947, the Kashmir conflict and the numerous military conflicts fought between the two nations. Consequently, their relationship has been plagued by hostility and suspicion. Northern India and Pakistan somewhat overlap in areas of certain demographics, shared lingua francas (mainly Punjabi and Hindustani) and shared cuisines inherited from the Mughal Empire.
After the dissolution of the British Raj in 1947, two new sovereign nations were formed—the Dominion of India and the Dominion of Pakistan. The subsequent partition of the former British India displaced up to 12.5 million people, with estimates of loss of life varying from several hundred thousand to 1 million.India emerged as a secular nation with a Hindu majority population and a large Muslim minority, while Pakistan emerged also as a secular nation with an overwhelming Muslim majority population; later becoming an Islamic republic although its constitution guarantees freedom of religion to people of all faiths.
Soon after their independence, India and Pakistan established diplomatic relations but the violent partition and numerous territorial claims would overshadow their relationship. Since their Independence, the two countries have fought three major wars, one undeclared war and have been involved in numerous armed skirmishes and military standoffs. The Kashmir conflict is the main centre-point of all of these conflicts with the exception of the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971 and Bangladesh Liberation War, which resulted in the secession of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).
There have been numerous attempts to improve the relationship—notably, the Shimla summit, the Agra summit and the Lahore summit. Since the early 1980s, relations between the two nations soured particularly after the Siachen conflict, the intensification of Kashmir insurgency in 1989, Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests in 1998 and the 1999 Kargil war. Certain confidence-building measures — such as the 2003 ceasefire agreement and the Delhi–Lahore Bus service – were successful in de-escalating tensions. However, these efforts have been impeded by periodic terrorist attacks. The 2001 Indian Parliament attack almost brought the two nations to the brink of a nuclear war. The 2007 Samjhauta Express bombings, which killed 68 civilians (most of whom were Pakistani), was also a crucial point in relations. Additionally, the 2008 Mumbai attacks carried out by Pakistani militants resulted in a severe blow to the ongoing India-Pakistan peace talks.
After a brief thaw following the election of new governments in both nations, bilateral discussions again stalled after the 2016 Pathankot attack. In September 2016, a terrorist attack on an Indian military base in Indian-administered Kashmir, the deadliest such attack in years, killed 19 Indian Army soldiers. India's claim that the attack had been orchestrated by a Pakistan-supported jihadist group was denied by Pakistan, which claimed the attack had been a local reaction to unrest in the region due to excessive force by Indian security personnel. The attack sparked a military confrontation across the Line of Control, with an escalation in ceasefire violations and further militant attacks on Indian security forces. As of December 2016, the ongoing confrontation and an increase in nationalist rhetoric on both sides has resulted in the collapse of bilateral relations, with little expectation they will recover.
Since the election of new governments in both India and Pakistan in the early 2010s, some steps have been taken to improve relations, in particular developing a consensus on the agreement of Non-Discriminatory Market Access on Reciprocal Basis (NDMARB) status for each other, which will liberalize trade. In November 2015, the new Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif agreed to the resumption of bilateral talks; the following month, Prime Minister Modi made a brief, unscheduled visit to Pakistan while en route to India, becoming the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Pakistan since 2004. Despite those efforts, relations between the countries have remained frigid, following repeated acts of cross-border terrorism. According to a 2017 BBC World Service poll, only 5% of Indians view Pakistan's influence positively, with 85% expressing a negative view, while 11% of Pakistanis view India's influence positively, with 62% expressing a negative view.
Seeds of conflict during independence
About half a million Muslims and Hindus were killed in communal riots following the partition of British India. Millions of Muslims living in India and Hindus and Sikhs living in Pakistan emigrated in one of the most colossal transfers of population in the modern era. Both countries accused each other of not providing adequate security to the minorities emigrating through their territory. This served to increase tensions between the newly-born countries.
According to the British plan for the partition of British India, all the 680 princely states were allowed to decide which of the two countries to join. With the exception of a few, most of the Muslim-majority princely-states acceded to Pakistan while most of the Hindu-majority princely states joined India. However, the decisions of some of the princely-states would shape the Pakistan-India relationship considerably in the years to come.
Main article: Annexation of Junagadh
Junagadh was a state on the south-western end of Gujarat, with the principalities of Manavadar, Mangrol and Babriawad. It was not contiguous to Pakistan and other states physically separated it from Pakistan. The state had an overwhelming Hindu population which constituted more than 80% of its citizens, while its ruler, NawabMahabat Khan, was a Muslim. Mahabat Khan acceded to Pakistan on 15 August 1947. Pakistan confirmed the acceptance of the accession on 15 September 1947.
India did not accept the accession as legitimate. The Indian point of view was that Junagadh was not contiguous to Pakistan, that the Hindu majority of Junagadh wanted it to be a part of India, and that the state was surrounded by Indian territory on three sides.
The Pakistani point of view was that since Junagadh had a ruler and governing body who chose to accede to Pakistan, it should be allowed to do so. Also, because Junagadh had a coastline, it could have maintained maritime links with Pakistan even as an enclave within India.
Neither of the states was able to resolve this issue amicably and it only added fuel to an already charged environment. Sardar Patel, India's Home Minister, felt that if Junagadh was permitted to go to Pakistan, it would create communal unrest across Gujarat. The government of India gave Pakistan time to void the accession and hold a plebiscite in Junagadh to pre-empt any violence in Gujarat. Samaldas Gandhi formed a government-in-exile, the Arzi Hukumat (in Urdu: Arzi: Transitional, Hukumat: Government) of the people of Junagadh. Patel ordered the annexation of Junagadh's three principalities.
India cut off supplies of fuel and coal to Junagadh, severed air and postal links, sent troops to the frontier, and occupied the principalities of Mangrol and Babariawad that had acceded to India. On 26 October, Nawab of Junagadh and his family fled to Pakistan following clashes with Indian troops. On 7 November, Junagadh's court, facing collapse, invited the Government of India to take over the State's administration. The Dewan of Junagadh, Sir Shah Nawaz Bhutto, the father of the more famous Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, decided to invite the Government of India to intervene and wrote a letter to Mr. Buch, the Regional Commissioner of Saurashtra in the Government of India to this effect. The Government of Pakistan protested. The Government of India rejected the protests of Pakistan and accepted the invitation of the Dewan to intervene. Indian troops occupied Junagadh on 9 November 1947. In February 1948, a plebiscite held almost unanimously voted for accession to India.
Main article: Kashmir conflict
Kashmir was a Muslim-majority princely state, ruled by a Hindu king, Maharaja Hari Singh. At the time of the partition of India, Maharaja Hari Singh, the ruler of the state, preferred to remain independent and did not want to join either the Union of India or the Dominion of Pakistan. He wanted both India and Pakistan to recognise his princely state as an independent neutral country.
Despite the standstill agreement with Pakistan, teams of Pakistani forces were dispatched into Kashmir in response to the Hindu Maharajah's attempted genocide of Muslims in the state. The Maharajah of Kashmir attempted to change the predominantly Muslim demographics of his state by engaging in an ethnic cleansing of Muslims from the Jammu section of his state, as his state forces massacred thousands of Muslims in Jammu and expelled thousands more from their homes in an effort to shift the population ratio in favour of Hindus. This precipitated a revolt by the Muslims in the Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir against the Hindu Maharajah. Backed by Pakistani paramilitary forces, PashtunMehsud tribals invaded Kashmir in October 1947 under the code name "Operation Gulmarg" to seize Kashmir. They reached and captured Baramulla on 25 October. Instead of moving on to Srinagar just 50 km away and capturing its undefended airfield, they stayed there for several days. Kashmir's security forces turned out to be too weak and ill-equipped to fight against Pakistan. Fearing that this invasion would bring about an accession to Pakistan, the Maharaja now turned to India and requested India for troops to safeguard Kashmir. Indian Prime Minister Nehru was ready to send the troops, but the acting Governor General of India, Lord Mountbatten of Burma, advised the Maharaja to accede to India before India could send its troops. Hence, considering the emergent situation he signed the instrument of accession to the Union of India on 26 October 1947 (see the two-page document's photo below).
Charles Chevenix Trench writes in his 'The Frontier Scouts' (1985):
In October 1947... tribal lashkars hastened in lorries - undoubtedly with official logistic support - into Kashmir... at least one British Officer, Harvey-Kelly took part in the campaign. It seemed that nothing could stop these hordes of tribesmen taking Srinagar with its vital airfield. Indeed nothing did, but their own greed. The Mahsuds in particular stopped to loot, rape and murder; Indian troops were flown in and the lashkars pushed out of the Vale of Kashmir into the mountains. The Mahsuds returned home in a savage mood, having muffed an easy chance, lost the loot of Srinagar and made fools of themselves.
In the words of General Mohammad Akbar Khan (Brigadier-in-Charge, Pakistan, in his book "War for Kashmir in 1947"): "The uncouth raiders delayed in Baramulla for two (whole) days for some unknown reason."
While the invading Pakistanis spread across the State and looted Baramulla town just 50 km from the state capital, Srinagar, for several days starting 25 October 1947, the Maharaja signed Instrument of Accession to the Dominion of India on 26 October 1947. Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah had already reached Delhi a day earlier on 25 October to persuade Nehru to send troops. He made no secret of the danger the State faced and asked Nehru to lose no time in accepting the accession and ensuring the speedy dispatch of Indian troops to the State. (Sheikh Abdullah corroborates this account in his Aatish-e-Chinaar (at pages 416 and 417) and records (at page 417) that V.P. Menon returned to Delhi on 26 October with signed Instrument of accession.) The Instrument was accepted by the Governor-General of India the next day, 27 October 1947. With this signing by the Maharaja and acceptance by the Governor-General, the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir became a part of Dominion of India as per the Indian Independence Act 1947 passed by the British parliament.
By this time the raiders were close to the capital, Srinagar Indian troops were airlifted from Delhi, landed at Srinagar airport in Kashmir on 27 October 1947 and secured the airport before proceeding to evict the invaders from Kashmir valley.
The Indian troops managed to evict the aggressors from parts of Kashmir but the onset of winter made much of the state impassable. After weeks of intense fighting between Pakistan and India, Pakistani leaders and the Indian Prime Minister Nehru declared a ceasefire and sought U.N. arbitration with the promise of a plebiscite. In 1957, north-western Kashmir was fully integrated into Pakistan, becoming Azad Kashmir (Pakistan-administered Kashmir). In 1962, China occupied Aksai Chin, the north-eastern region bordering Ladakh. In 1984, India launched Operation Meghdoot and captured more than 80% of the Siachen Glacier.
Pakistan now maintains Kashmiris' right to self-determination through a plebiscite and the promised plebiscite should be allowed to decide the fate of the Kashmiri people. India on the other hand asserts that with the Maharaja's signing the instrument of accession, Kashmir has become an integral part of India.
Due to all such political differences, this territorial claim has been the subject of wars between the two countries in 1947 and 1965, and a limited conflict in 1999. The state remains divided between the two countries by the Line of Control (LoC), which demarcates the ceasefire line agreed upon in the 1947 conflict modified in 1972 as per Simla Agreement.
Wars, conflicts and disputes
Main article: Indo-Pakistani wars and conflicts
Further information: Indo-Pakistani War of 1947, Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, Kargil War, Siachen conflict, and Insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir
India and Pakistan have fought in numerous armed conflicts since their independence. There are three major wars that have taken place between the two states, namely in 1947, 1965 and the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. In addition to this was the unofficial Kargil War and some border skirmishes.
War of 1965
Main article: Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
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The Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 started following Pakistan's Operation Gibraltar, which was designed to infiltrate forces into Jammu and Kashmir to precipitate an insurgency against rule by India. The five-week war caused thousands of casualties on both sides. Most of the battles were fought by opposing infantry and armoured units, with substantial backing from air forces, and naval operations. It ended in a United Nations (UN) mandated ceasefire and the subsequent issuance of the Tashkent Declaration.
War of 1971
Main articles: Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, Bangladesh Liberation War, and Indo-Pakistani Naval War of 1971
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Pakistan, since independence, was geo-politically divided into two major regions, West Pakistan and East Pakistan. East Pakistan was occupied mostly by Bengali people. In December 1971, following a political crisis in East Pakistan, the situation soon spiralled out of control in East Pakistan and India intervened in favour of the rebelling Bengali populace. The conflict, a brief but bloody war, resulted in the independence of East Pakistan. In the war, the Indian Army invaded East Pakistan from three sides, while the Indian Navy used the aircraft carrier INS Vikrant (R11) to impose a naval blockade of East Pakistan. The war saw the first offensive operations undertaken by the Indian Navy against an enemy port, when Karachi harbour was attacked twice during Operation Trident (1971) and Operation Python. These attacks destroyed a significant portion of Pakistan's naval strength, whereas no Indian ship was lost. The Indian Navy did, however, lose a single ship, when INS Khukri (F149) was torpedoed by a Pakistani submarine. 13 days after the invasion of East Pakistan, 90,000 Pakistani military personnel surrendered to the Indian Army and the Mukti Bahini. After the surrender of Pakistani forces, East Pakistan became the independent nation of Bangladesh.
Main article: Kargil War
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During the winter months of 1998-99, the Indian army vacated its posts at very high peaks in Kargil sector in Kashmir as it used to do every year. Pakistani Army intruded across the line of control and occupied the posts. Indian army discovered this in May 1999 when the snow thawed. This resulted in intense fighting between Indian and Pakistani forces, known as the Kargil conflict. Backed by the Indian Air Force, the Indian Army regained some of the posts that Pakistan has occupied. Pakistan later withdrew from the remaining portion under international pressure.
Other territorial claims
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The relations are locked in other territorial claims such as the Siachen Glacier and Kori Creek.
The Indus Waters Treaty governs the rivers that flow from India into Pakistan. Water is cited as one possible cause for a conflict between the two nations, but to date issues such as the Nimoo Bazgo Project have been resolved through diplomacy.
Bengal refugee crisis (1949)
Further information: East Bengali refugees
In 1949, India recorded close to 1 million Hindu refugees, who flooded into West Bengal and other states from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), owing to communal violence, intimidation and repression from authorities. The plight of the refugees outraged Hindus and Indian nationalists, and the refugee population drained the resources of Indian states, which were unable to absorb them. While not ruling out war, Prime Minister Nehru and Sardar Patel invited Liaquat Ali Khan for talks in Delhi. Although many Indians termed this appeasement, Nehru signed a pact with Liaquat Ali Khan that pledged both nations to the protection of minorities and creation of minority commissions. Khan and Nehru also signed a trade agreement, and committed to resolving bilateral conflicts through peaceful means. Steadily, hundreds of thousands of Hindus returned to East Pakistan, but the thaw in relations did not last long, primarily owing to the Kashmir conflict.
Further information: Afghanistan–India relations and Afghanistan–Pakistan relations
Afghanistan and Pakistan have had their own historic rivalry over their border, the Durand Line, which numerous Afghan governments have refused to recognize as the border. This has led to strong tensions between the two countries and even military confrontations, resulting in Pakistan as victorious. Pakistan has long accused Afghanistan of harboring Baloch separatist rebels and attempting to sponsor separatist tendencies amongst its Pashtun and Baloch populations, going as far back as the 1950s. It has been believed that Pakistan during the 1970s, then under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, in retaliation began supporting Islamist factions in Afghanistan. These factions proved rebellious for the Afghan government that was friendly to the Soviet Union and its South Asian ally, India.
The later Soviet intervention in Afghanistan to prevent further escalation and eventual Islamist takeover of the country proved disastrous afterwards. The United States and its allies feared direct Soviet involvement in Afghanistan and began aiding Pakistan's support for the Afghan Mujaheddin, in hopes of crippling the Soviet Union. The Soviet-Afghan war turned out to be a stalemate with heavy casualties on all sides and costly for the Soviets. Under international agreement, the Soviets withdrew. But various Afghan factions fought one another and their external supporters, including the Soviet Union, Iran, Pakistan and others disagreed on which should be in power.
Continued rival proxy support led to the civil war, in which Pakistan supported in the Taliban, seeking to secure its interests in Afghanistan and providing strategic support, while India and Afghanistan's other neighbors backed the Northern Alliance.
After the Taliban defeated the Northern Alliance in much of Afghanistan in the Afghan Civil War (1996-2001), the Taliban regime continued to be supported by Pakistan – one of the three countries to do so – before the 11 September attacks. India firmly opposed the Taliban and criticized Pakistan for supporting it. India established its links with the Northern Alliance as India officially recognized their government, with the United Nations. India's relations with Afghanistan, Pakistan's neighbor, and its increasing presence there has irked Pakistan.
The 2008 Indian embassy bombing in Kabul was a suicide bomb terror attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan on 7 July 2008 at 8:30 AM local time. US intelligence officials suggested that Pakistan's ISI intelligence agency had planned the attack. Pakistan tried to deny any responsibility, but United States PresidentGeorge W. Bush confronted Pakistani Prime MinisterYousuf Raza Gilani with evidence and warned him that in the case of another such attack he would have to take "serious action".
Pakistan has been accused by India, Afghanistan, the United States, and the United Kingdom, of involvement in terrorism in Kashmir and Afghanistan. In July 2009, former President of PakistanAsif Ali Zardari admitted that the Pakistani government had "created and nurtured" terrorist groups to achieve its short-term foreign policy goals. According to an analysis published by Saban Centre for Middle East Policy at Brookings Institution in 2008 Pakistan was the world's "most active" state sponsor of terrorism including aiding groups and Pakistan has long aided a range of terrorist groups fighting against India in Kashmir and is a major sponsor of Taliban forces fighting the U.S.-backed government in Afghanistan.
Insurgency in Kashmir (1989-present)
Main article: Insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir
According to some reports published by the Council of Foreign Relations, the Pakistan military and the ISI have provided covert support to terrorist groups active in Kashmir, including the al-Qaeda affiliate Jaish-e-Mohammed. Pakistan has denied any involvement in terrorist activities in Kashmir, arguing that it only provides political and moral support to the secessionist groups who wish to escape Indian rule. Many Kashmiri militant groups also maintain their headquarters in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, which is cited as further proof by the Indian government.
Author Gordon Thomas stated that Pakistan "still sponsored terrorist groups in the state of Kashmir, funding, training and arming them in their war on attrition against India." Journalist Stephen Suleyman Schwartz notes that several militant and criminal groups are "backed by senior officers in the Pakistani army, the country's ISI intelligence establishment and other armed bodies of the state."
List of some insurgent attacks
Insurgents attack on Jammu and Kashmir State Assembly: A car bomb exploded near the Jammu and Kashmir State Assembly on 1 October 2001, killing 27 people on an attack that was blamed on Kashmiri separatists. It was one of the most prominent attacks against India apart from on the Indian Parliament in December 2001. The dead bodies of the terrorists and the data recovered from them revealed that Pakistan was solely responsible for the activity.
- 1997 Sangrampora massacre: On 21 March 1997, 7 Kashmiri Pandits were killed in Sangrampora village in the Budgam district.
- Wandhama Massacre: In January 1998, 24 Kashmiri Pandits living in the city Wandhama were killed by nonsense Islamic terrorists.
- Qasim Nagar Attack: On 13 July 2003, armed men believed to be a part of the Lashkar-e-Toiba threw hand grenades at the Qasim Nagar market in Srinagar and then fired on civilians standing nearby killing twenty-seven and injuring many more.
- Assassination of Abdul Ghani Lone: Abdul Ghani Lone, a prominent All Party Hurriyat Conference leader, was assassinated by an unidentified gunmen during a memorial rally in Srinagar. The assassination resulted in wide-scale demonstrations against the Indian occupied-forces for failing to provide enough security cover for Mr. Lone.
- 20 July 2005 Srinagar Bombing: A car bomb exploded near an armoured Indian Army vehicle in the famous Church Lane area in Srinagar killing four Indian Army personnel, one civilian and the suicide bomber. Terrorist group Hizbul Mujahideen, claimed responsibility for the attack.
- Budshah Chowk attack: A terrorist attack on 29 July 2005 at Srinigar's city centre, Budshah Chowk, killed two and left more than 17 people injured. Most of those injured were media journalists.
- Murder of Ghulam Nabi Lone: On 18 October 2005, a suspected man killed Jammu and Kashmir's then education minister Ghulam Nabi Lone. No Terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attack.
- 2016 Uri attack: A terrorist attack by four heavily armed terrorists on 18 September 2016, near the town of Uri in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, killed 18 and left more than 20 people injured. It was reported as "the deadliest attack on security forces in Kashmir in two decades".
Insurgent activities elsewhere
The attack on the Indian Parliament was by far the most dramatic attack carried out allegedly by Pakistani terrorists. India blamed Pakistan for carrying out the attacks, an allegation which Pakistan strongly denied and one that brought both nations to the brink of a nuclear confrontation in 2001–02. However, international peace efforts ensured the cooling of tensions between the two nuclear-capable nations.
Apart from this, the most notable was the hijacking of Indian Airlines Flight IC 814 en route New Delhi from Kathmandu, Nepal. The plane was hijacked on 24 December 1999 approximately one hour after take off and was taken to Amritsar airport and then to Lahore in Pakistan. After refueling the plane took off for Dubai and then finally landed in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Under intense media pressure, New Delhi complied with the hijackers' demand and freed Maulana Masood Azhar from its captivity in return for the freedom of the Indian passengers on the flight. The decision, however, cost New Delhi dearly. Maulana, who is believed to be hiding in Karachi, later became the leader of Jaish-e-Mohammed, an organisation which has carried out several terrorist acts against Indian security forces in Kashmir.
On 22 December 2000, a group of terrorists belonging to the Lashkar-e-Toiba stormed the famous Red Fort in New Delhi. The Fort houses an Indian military unit and a high-security interrogation cell used both by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Indian Army. The terrorists successfully breached the security cover around the Red Fort and opened fire at the Indian military personnel on duty killing two of them on spot. The attack was significant because it was carried out just two days after the declaration of the cease-fire between India and Pakistan.
In 2002, India claimed again that terrorists from Jammu and Kashmir were infiltrating into India, a claim denied by Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, who claimed that such infiltration had stopped—India's spokesperson for the External Affairs Ministry did away with Pakistan's claim, calling it "terminological inexactitude." Only two months later, two Kashmiri terrorists belonging to Jaish-e-Mohammed raided the Swami Narayan temple complex in Ahmedabad, Gujarat killing 30 people, including 18 women and five children. The attack was carried out on 25 September 2002, just few days after state elections were held in Jammu and Kashmir. Two identical letters found on both the terrorists claimed that the attack was done in retaliation for the deaths of thousands of Muslims during the Gujarat riots.
Two car bombs exploded in south Mumbai on 25 August 2003; one near the Gateway of India and the other at the famous Zaveri Bazaar, killing at least 48 and injuring 150 people. Though no terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attacks, Mumbai Police and RAW suspected Lashkar-e-Toiba's hand in the twin blasts.
In an unsuccessful attempt, six terrorists belonging to Lashkar-e-Toiba, stormed the AyodhyaRam Janmbhomi complex on 5 July 2005. Before the terrorists could reach the main disputed site, they were shot down by Indian security forces. One Hindu worshipper and two policemen were injured during the incident.
The Indian intelligence agency RAW is claimed to be working in cover to malign Pakistan and train & support insurgents for Balochistan conflict.
2001 Indian Parliament attack
Main article: 2001 Indian Parliament attack
The 2001 Indian Parliament attack was an attack at the Parliament of India in New Delhi on 13 December 2001, during which fourteen people, including the five men who attacked the building, were killed. The perpetrators were Lashkar-e-Taiba (Let) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorists. The attack led to the deaths of five terrorists, six Delhi Police personnel, two Parliament Security Service personnel and a gardener, in total 14 and to increased tensions between India and Pakistan, resulting in the 2001–02 India–Pakistan standoff.
2001–02 India–Pakistan standoff
Main article: 2001–2002 India–Pakistan standoff
The 2001–2002 India–Pakistan standoff was a military standoff between India and Pakistan that resulted in the massing of troops on either side of the border and along the Line of Control (LoC) in the region of Kashmir. This was the first major military standoff between India and Pakistan since the Kargil War in 1999. The military buildup was initiated by India responding to a 2001 Indian Parliament attack and the 2001 Jammu and Kashmir legislative assembly attack. India claimed that the attacks were carried out by two Pakistan-based terror groups fighting Indian administeredKashmir, the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad, both of whom India has said are backed by Pakistan's ISI a charge that Pakistan denied. Tensions de-escalated following international diplomatic mediation which resulted in the October 2002 withdrawal of Indian and Pakistani troops from the international border.
2007 Samjhauta Express bombings
Main article: 2007 Samjhauta Express bombings
The 2007 Samjhauta Express bombings was a terrorist attack targeted on the Samjhauta Express train on 18 February. The Samjhauta Express is an international train that runs from New Delhi, India to Lahore, Pakistan, and is one of two trains to cross the India-Pakistan border. At least 68 people were killed, mostly Pakistani civilians but also some Indian security personnel and civilians.
2008 Mumbai attacks
Main article: 2008 Mumbai attacks
The 2008 Mumbai attacks by ten Pakistani terrorists killed over 173 and wounded 308. The sole surviving gunman Ajmal Kasab who was arrested during the attacks was found to be a Pakistani national. This fact was acknowledged by Pakistani authorities. In May 2010, an Indian court convicted him on four counts of murder, waging war against India, conspiracy and terrorism offences, and sentenced him to death.
India blamed the Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan-based militant group, for planning and executing the attacks. Islamabad resisted the claims and demanded evidence. India provided evidence in the form of interrogations, weapons, candy wrappers, Pakistani Brand Milk Packets, and telephone sets. Indian officials demanded Pakistan extradite suspects for trial. They also said that, given the sophistication of the attacks, the perpetrators "must have had the support of some official agencies in Pakistan".
Weapons of mass destruction
See also: India and weapons of mass destruction, Pakistan and weapons of mass destruction, and nuclear race
India has a long history of development of nuclear weapons. Origins of India's nuclear program dates back to 1944, when started its nuclear program soon after its independence. In the 1940s–1960s, India's nuclear program slowly matured towards militarisation and expanded the nuclear power infrastructure throughout the country. Decisions on the development of nuclear weapons were made by Indian political leaders after the Chinese invasion and territorial annexation of northern India. In 1967, India's nuclear program was aimed at the development of nuclear weapons, with Indira Gandhi carefully overseeing the development of weapons. In 1971, India gained military and political momentum over Pakistan, after a successful military campaign against Pakistan. Starting preparations for a nuclear test in 1972, India finally exploded its first nuclear bomb in Pokhran test range, codename Smiling Buddha, in 1974. During the 1980s–90s, India began development of space and nuclear rockets, which marked Pakistan's efforts to engage in the space race with India. Pakistan's own program developed space and nuclear missiles and began unmanned flight tests of its space vehicles in the mid-1990s, which continues in the present.
After the defeat in the Indo-Pakistani war of 1971, Pakistan launched its own nuclear bomb program in 1972, and accelerated its efforts in 1974, after India exploded its first nuclear bomb in Pokhran test range, codename Smiling Buddha. This large-scale nuclear bomb program was directly in response to India's nuclear program. In 1983, Pakistan achieved a major milestone in its efforts after it covertly performed a series of non-fission tests, codename Kirana-I. No official announcements of such cold tests were made by Pakistan government. Over the next several years, Pakistan expanded and modernized nuclear power projects around the country to supply its electricity sector and to provide back-up support and benefit to its national economy. In 1988, a mutual understanding was reached between the two countries in which each pledged not to attack nuclear facilities. Agreements on cultural exchanges and civil aviation were also initiated, also in 1988. Finally, in 1998, India exploded its second nuclear test (see: Pokhran-II) which invited Pakistan to follow the latter's step and performed its own atomic tests (see:Chagai-I and Chagai-II).
Talks and other confidence building measures
After the 1971 war, Pakistan and India made slow progress towards the normalisation of relations. In July 1972, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Pakistani President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto met in the Indian hill station of Simla. They signed the Simla Agreement, by which India would return all Pakistani personnel (over 90,000) and captured territory in the west, and the two countries would "settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations." Diplomatic and trade relations were also re-established in 1976.
In 1997, high-level Indo-Pakistan talks resumed after a three-year pause. The Prime Ministers of Pakistan and India met twice and the foreign secretaries conducted three rounds of talks. In June 1997, the foreign secretaries identified eight "outstanding issues" around which continuing talks would be focused. The conflict over the status of Kashmir, (referred by India as Jammu and Kashmir), an issue since Independence, remains the major stumbling block in their dialogue. India maintains that the entire former princely state is an integral part of the Indian union, while Pakistan insists that UN resolutions calling for self-determination of the people of the state/province must be taken into account. It however refuses to abide by the previous part of the resolution, which calls for it to vacate all territories occupied.
In September 1997, the talks broke down over the structure of how to deal with the issues of Kashmir, and peace and security. Pakistan advocated that the issues be treated by separate working groups. India responded that the two issues be taken up along with six others on a simultaneous basis.
Attempts to restart dialogue between the two nations were given a major boost by the February 1999 meeting of both Prime Ministers in Lahore and their signing of three agreements.
A subsequent military coup in Pakistan that overturned the democratically elected Nawaz Sharif government in October of the same year also proved a setback to relations.
In 2001, a summit was called in Agra; Pakistani PresidentPervez Musharraf turned up to meet Indian Prime MinisterAtal Behari Vajpayee. The talks fell through.
On 20 June 2004, with a new government in place in India, both countries agreed to extend a nuclear testing ban and to set up a hotline between their foreign secretaries aimed at preventing misunderstandings that might lead to a nuclear war.
Baglihar Dam issue was a new issue raised by Pakistan in 2005.
After Dr. Manmohan Singh become prime minister of India in May 2004, the Punjab provincial Government declared it would develop Gah, his place of birth, as a model village in his honour and name a school after him. There is also a village in India named Pakistan, despite occasional pressure over the years to change its name the villagers have resisted. Violent activities in the region declined in 2004. There are two main reasons for this: warming of relations between New Delhi and Islamabad which consequently lead to a ceasefire between the two countries in 2003 and the fencing of the LOC being carried out by the Indian Army. Moreover, coming under intense international pressure, Islamabad was compelled to take actions against the militants' training camps on its territory. In 2004, the two countries also agreed upon decreasing the number of troops present in the region.
Under pressure, Kashmiri militant organisations made an offer for talks and negotiations with New Delhi, which India welcomed.
India's Border Security Force blamed the Pakistani military for providing cover-fire for the terrorists whenever they infiltrated into Indian territory from Pakistan. Pakistan in turn has also blamed India for providing support to terrorist organisations operating in Pakistan such as the BLA.
In 2005, Pakistan's information minister, Sheikh Rashid, was alleged to have run a terrorist training camp in 1990 in N.W. Frontier, Pakistan. The Pakistani government dismissed the charges against its minister as an attempt to hamper the ongoing peace process between the two neighbours.
Both India and Pakistan have launched several mutual confidence-building measures (CBMs) to ease tensions between the two. These include more high-level talks, easing visa restrictions, and restarting of cricket matches between the two. The new bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad has also helped bring the two sides closer. Pakistan and India have also decided to co-operate on economic fronts.
Some improvements in the relations are seen with the re-opening of a series of transportation networks near the India–Pakistan border, with the most important being bus routes and railway lines.
A major clash between Indian security forces and militants occurred when a group of insurgents tried to infiltrate into Kashmir from Pakistan in July 2005. The same month also saw a Kashmiri militant attack on Ayodhya and Srinagar. However, these developments had little impact on the peace process.
An Indian man held in Pakistani prisons since 1975 as an accused spy walked across the border to freedom 3 March 2008, an unconditional release that Pakistan said was done to improve relations between the two countries.
In 2006, a "Friends Without Borders" scheme began with the help of two British tourists. The idea was that Indian and Pakistani children would make pen pals and write friendly letters to each other. The idea was so successful in both countries that the organisation found it "impossible to keep up". The World's Largest Love Letter was recently sent from India to Pakistan.
In December 2010, several Pakistani newspapers published stories about India's leadership and relationship with militants in Pakistan that the papers claimed were found in the United States diplomatic cables leak. A British newspaper, The Guardian, which had the Wikileaks cables in its possession reviewed the cables and concluded that the Pakistani claims were "not accurate" and that "WikiLeaks [was] being exploited for propaganda purposes."
On 10 February 2011, India agreed to resume talks with Pakistan which were suspended after 26/11 Mumbai Attacks. India had put on hold all the diplomatic relations saying it will only continue if Pakistan will act against the accused of Mumbai attacks.
On 13 April 2012 following a thaw in relations whereby India gained MFN status in the country, India announced the removal of restrictions on FDI investment from Pakistan to India.
Since achieving independence in 1947, the relations between India and Pakistan have been such that the talks of trade, cooperation and peace have often taken place parallel to the threats of war. They have fought four wars and on more than one occasion mobilised their militaries with a credible threat of war. Since the early 1990s, the insurgency in Kashmir and terrorist incidents in other parts of India have affected bilateral relations in a profound way. Serious terrorist attacks in India causing huge loss of life, such as the Mumbai bombings in 2005 and Mumbai attacks in 2008, have often led to the loss of public support for dialogue with Pakistan. Groups targeting the peace process between India and Pakistan have exploited this reality to the extent of setting up a trend. For the past few years almost every Indo-Pakistan peace initiative has been followed by a terrorist attack.
Consequently, the India-Pakistan debates have been led by belligerent minds, regularly perpetuating the negative narratives that have demonised the enemy and created virtuous self-images. The conflict environment ridden with regular violent incidents has further fuelled such negative narratives, creating a self-sustaining vicious cycle of mistrust, bellicosity and conflict. As a result, a positive cycle of mutual trust, confidence building, peace and stability between the two states, could never gain any foothold.
This article analyses the pattern in which the conflict is evolving since the beginning of this century. It highlights two important factors: the limited military options available to India after the appearance of nuclear weapons and the internal turmoil in Pakistan, which have played an important role in shaping the conflict environment in South Asia. It primarily argues that belligerent attitudes and actions of the past century may not be applicable anymore. Indians and Pakistanis have developed very stereotypical attitudes towards each other, which are rigid and cannot change in a short period. However, as this article makes the case, that given the way the conflict environment is evolving, both Indians and Pakistanis may be forced to rethink their attitudes and change the narratives that perpetuate bitterness and enmity towards each other.
India: Treading the Conflict Terrain – Not a Stroll Anymore
They say that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. However, when the going gets dangerous, the tough should ‘rethink his options’. After all, there is a very thin line between being ‘brave’ and being ‘foolish’. There was a time when the Indian Army could march a few kilometres inside Pakistani territory and threaten cities such as Lahore and Sialkot; or the Indian Navy could lay a blockade around Pakistan’s only port city Karachi and totally cut of naval and commercial traffic. This doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. The times have certainly changed and both sides have a subtle realisation of this fact.
Nuclear weapons and multiple delivery systems have shaped the environment in such a way that any armed conflict now possesses an inherent risk of escalation to a nuclear exchange. Furthermore, the stability in deterrence is questionable because the nuclear thresholds are undefined and a vast difference of perception exists on both sides.
India believes that space exists for a limited conflict where, if the need arises, doctrines such as ‘Cold Start’ can be executed, drawing the Pakistani army into battle and destroying its war fighting capability. India’s stand rests on the premise that while nuclear rhetoric is a good way to build and sway public opinions, empirically speaking the truth and action have generally sided with rationality and pragmatism. Sir Lawrence Freedman (2003) in his book The Evolution of Nuclear Strategy rightly states that due to the destructive power of (even low yield) nuclear weapons, ‘when it comes to actual nuclear war planning, all hawks suddenly become doves’.
Pakistan, on the other hand (and despite the above), has adopted a nuclear posture based on Tactical Nuclear Weapons (TNWs), short-range missiles and a highly advertised ‘first-use’ policy, keeping the red lines vague. Scholars claim that the main aim of this posture is to draw immediate international attention and mediation in case of a crisis and prevent it from escalation to any kind of armed conflict.
While this debate carries on, it seems that the ‘existential deterrence’ has played its role by having a deep impact on the belligerent attitudes, especially of the Indian policy making circles. This is evident from the responses – both actual and rhetorical – to the five major terrorist incidents that occurred during the past fifteen years, as discussed below.
When five terrorists belonging to Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed attacked the Indian Parliament building on 13 December 2001, the Home Minister of India LK Advani clearly pointed a finger at the ‘neighbouring country and the terrorist organisation active there’. By the time the Kaluchak attacks happened on 14 May 2002, in which 31 soldiers and their families were killed by terrorists belonging to Lashkar-e-Toiba, the Indian army had already been mobilised and the army units were sitting in battle formations awaiting final orders to go to war. A week later while addressing the soldiers posted in Kashmir, Prime Minister AB Vajpayee asked them to ‘be prepared for a decisive battle’. The situations de-escalated after Pakistan, under pressure from the United States, made gestures of reigning in the militant groups and their leaders.
After the Mumbai attacks on 26 November 2008, India’s then External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee stated that India may indulge in military strikes against the training camps of terrorist outfits in Pakistan. India did not mobilise its troops. Pakistan moved its troops towards the border, albeit only briefly, which were withdrawn after few days of talks. In a recent talk at King’s College London, Siddharth Varadarajan, a senior Indian journalist, mentioned that immediately after the Mumbai attacks, the Indian government did seek options from the military, only to be told that there were none.
On 27 July 2015 three terrorists attacked a bus and a police station in Gurdaspur district of Punjab, killing seven people. The only information that the investigating agencies could gather was that the terrorists were ‘Muslim’ and they seemed to have come from Pakistan, extracting data from the GPS recovered from them, which did not show any waypoints beyond the border. The case, besides lacking sufficient evidence to hold any particular organisation or state responsible, received an unusual media lacklustre in India.
Most recently on 02 January 2016, terrorists attacked the Air Force Station in Pathankot with an aim of targeting India’s ‘high-value assets’, such as helicopters and aircrafts parked in the station. An operation that lasted nearly three days resulted in all six terrorists dead along with seven security personnel and a civilian. The Indian intelligence agencies linked the terrorists to Jaish-e-Mohammed, based on the evidence tracked from the phone calls and GPS. The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, blamed the ‘enemies of humanity, who could not digest India’s progress’. Home Minister Rajnath Singh did say that ‘if there is any terror attack on India, we will give a befitting reply’, albeit only after saying that ‘Pakistan is our neighbouring country. We want good relations not only with Pakistan but with all our neighbours’. Almost all debates on the news channels and editorials of newspapers in India pursued the theme that the terrorist attacks should not derail the peace process between the two countries.
These five major terrorist attacks in India (that had originated in Pakistan) show us the changing conflict terrain in nuclearized South Asia during the last two decades. India’s response changed from mobilising the army and keeping it in battle ready formations, which also had an inherent risk of ‘accidental’ start of a war in 2002-03, to a simple rhetoric of blaming the ‘enemies of humanity’ in 2016.
This implies that the space for an armed conflict in South Asia has definitely reduced. This has forced the leaders, especially Indian, to take less belligerent stances as they are incapable of fulfilling their promises of ‘befitting replies’ due to limited military options. This, in turn, has paved the way for diplomatic dialogues, both official and unofficial, as a breakdown of diplomacy leaves no option other than military action.
On the other side of the border in Pakistan, terrorism and sectarian violence that has killed more than 50,000 people and cost the economy about $78 billion since 2001, has forced its leaders to look inwards, taking away their focus from the traditional ‘Indian threat’.
Pakistan: The Internal Turmoil – Blaming India Does Not Help Anymore
Since Independence, the Pakistani state has used a number of issues – unequal distribution of resources during partition, accession of Kashmir, division of water, loss of East Pakistan, unrest in Baluchistan – to develop a narrative of an ‘existential threat’ posed by India.
However, after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, Pakistan’s participation in the global war on terror changed the security situation drastically. Militant groups, some of them nurtured and supported by the Pakistani state for its own goals, became self-sustaining in terms of funding and recruitment. Over a period, the groups splintered and some of them turned against the state. During the last two years or so, the Islamic State or Daesh has made its presence felt in the Af-Pak region attracting many fighters from the older groups.
Even the groups dormant within Pakistan such as Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Toyiba, which were sometimes referred to as good terrorists, have started showing signs of rebellion. For instance, Masood Azhar, the Jaish-e-Mohammad founder sought by India for the Pathankot and other attacks, has threatened retaliation if Pakistan shuts down terrorist groups operating against India. The civilian and military leadership in Pakistan fully comprehends that the Salafist ideology pursued by these groups is a threat to the ‘idea of Pakistan’. The capture of Swat Valley by Taliban in 2007 and 2009; the Lal Masjid operation in 2007; the Peshawar School massacre in December 2014; the Safoora Goth bus attack in 2015; and the Bacha Khan University attack in January 2016 are stark reminders of this fact.
Consequently, the change in narrative seems inevitable and is slowly becoming visible. For the first time in Pakistan’s history, the threat from an internal enemy is dominating the so-called external threat from India. Prominent voices in the media, even those who have been traditionally anti-India, have acknowledged that ‘it was time for tough questions instead of blaming India’.
The task of improving relations with India, however, is not easy and there is still a lot of ground to cover. The state power in Pakistan is shared by the civil government, led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the military under the army chief Raheel Sharif. Traditionally, Pakistan’s military has dominated the security and foreign policy, which has been predominantly anti-India. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, on the other hand, has been known for his friendly inclinations towards India.
Pakistan’s government approved its ‘National Internal Security Policy 2014-2018’ (NISP) to deal with the growing menace of terrorism and extremism, in 2014. Its operationalization is still pending. However, it reflects the mind-set of the civil government and the narratives that it wishes to pursue, quite clearly. It was summarised in media as follows:
‘…perhaps the most important aspect of NISP is that it offers the first integrated sweep of the challenges and solutions from a civilian perspective. This is a radical departure from the frustratingly oversimplified military-defined threats facing ‘Islamic Pakistan’ from obscure or imagined sources based outside Pakistan rather than the internal threats that the NISP focuses on. […] NISP is not just a first by being a clear civilian perspective on a turf traditionally dominated by the security establishment but also bold in its diagnosis in policy articulation. […] it is a big step forward in weaning control of the narrative that defines the purpose of the state as being in service of its subjects rather than vice versa.’
Soon after the adoption of NISP, Nawaz Sharif’s authority was weakened by the military sponsored protests led by Imran Khan and Tahir-ul-Qadri in August 2014. In this light, the Army’s resistance to having peaceful relations with India is a huge hindrance for Nawaz Sharif.
Nawaz Sharif has a long history of conflict with the State’s army – After having served as the Chief Minister of Punjab he became Prime Minister for two short tenures in the 1990s, only to be ousted from power in a military coup, jailed and then exiled for nearly seven years, finally making a comeback 2013. The army chief’s announcement to retire in November 2016 probably comes at the right time for Nawaz Sharif. It gives him an opportunity to select the person who is in accord with his own aspirations. In his walk across the military’s tight rope, other institutions such as the judiciary, civil society and the entrepreneurial élite, are likely to take his side in times when the Army does not seem to be able to provide the security inside the country.
While Pakistan military’s anti-India rhetoric seems uncompromising, there are minor indicators signalling change in its mind-set. It is claimed that the closest that India and Pakistan got to resolving the Kashmir dispute was during Musharraf’s last years in power, just before he was ousted. Both India and Pakistan had made huge progress on the four-point formula that Musharraf had suggested, a strategy likely in line with the Army through which Musharraf himself rose. Speaking in 2013, Lt Gen (r) Talat Masood of the Pakistan Army stated that the military understands very well that ‘a continued stand-off with India only hurts us economically and also leads to a loss of our leverage with both India and the West’.
Both Indians and Pakistanis belong to a rigid culture where, more often than not, self-realisation has worked better than coercion. It is pertinent for India to realise that the use of force, which also comes with an inherent risk of self-destruction, will not coerce any self-respecting neighbour to change its course, even for its own good. The change is evident in India’s evolving responses discussed above as well as in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s regular engagements with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Similarly, in Pakistan, realisation of the fact that a continuous belligerent stance with India and the consequent policies it pursues, is causing more damage to Pakistani social, political and economic fabric seems to be dawning upon the Pakistani public and its elites.
Imagine a conflict environment spectrum ranging from low belligerency to high. Let us say that the belligerents live in a certain comfort zone where the collateral damage is not too high and acceptable; hence, they refuse to shift their positions (bellicose narratives and mind-sets). However, over a period, the conflict environment reconfigures itself, pushing the belligerents to that part of the spectrum where collateral damage becomes too high and unacceptable. This forces them to either change their attitudes or suffer destruction. A process strikingly similar to this is underway in South Asia.