India – Pakistan Relations (Since 1947)

International relations between India and Pakistan is predefined by animosity and hatred created by a violent Partition. Claim on Jammu & Kashmir added fuel to the fire of enmity.

In spite of all these, India and Pakistan Cooperated in the peaceful resolution of river water sharing by the way of World Bank Mediated Indus Water Treaty and even the peaceful cooperation in supporting the refugees of the partition. But such positive developments were not sustained for long.

Cold war prevalent in the world between nations of that time added to the misery. Pakistan was a close ally of US while India, though non-aligned was considered close to USSR.

Pak supported terrorism in India worsened the matters further.

Partition & First Indo-Pak War

In 1947 Britain, as part of its pullout from the Indian subcontinent divided it into secular, Hindu-majority India and Muslim Pakistan on August 15 and 14 respectively. The partition caused one of the largest human migrations ever seen and sparked riots and violence across the region.

Jammu and Kashmir was a princely state with the freedom to join either India or Pakistan. Hindu ruler Maharaja Hari Singh of Muslim majority state was indecisive while he kept bargaining with both India and Pakistan. He wanted his state to be Independent and had a standstill agreement signed with Pakistan. Frustrated by the delay in the decision, armed tribesmen (Lashkar) from Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province (now called Khyber-

Frustrated by the delay in the decision, armed tribesmen (Lashkar) from Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province (now called Khyber-Pakthunkhwa) invaded the disputed territory in October 1947, supported by Pakistan’s paramilitary under the code name “Operation Gulmarg”. Some reports say that the Pakistani attack was a response to ethnic cleansing by Maharaja.

The Maharaja, faced with an internal revolt as well an external invasion, requested the assistance of the Indian armed forces, in return for acceding to India. He handed over control of his defense, communications and foreign affairs to the Indian government.

India intervened and thus began the first Indo-Pak War. The Indian troops could evict the aggressors from parts of Kashmir but the onset of winter and lack of enthusiasm in British commanders of both armies slowed down the fight.

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.

The part of Kashmir which was on Pakistan’s side of ceasefire line was in administrative control of Pakistan and the rest was with India. Ceasefire line was called the line of control(LOC). In 1957, north-western Kashmir(Pakistan occupied Kashmir) was fully integrated into Pakistan, with the name ‘Azad Kashmir’. It is semi-autonomous. A larger area, including the former kingdoms of Hunza and Nagar, is controlled directly by the central Pakistani government.

The Indian (eastern) side of the ceasefire line is referred to as Jammu and Kashmir.

India- Pak Relations after First War

In 1954 the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India was ratified by the state’s constituent assembly and by 1957the Jammu and Kashmir constituent assembly approved a constitution. India, from the point of the 1954 ratification and 1957 constitution, begins to refer to Jammu and Kashmir as an integral part of the Indian union.

In 1963, the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan – Swaran Singh and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto – held talks under the auspices of the British and Americans regarding the Kashmir dispute. The talks didn’t yield the much-needed solution.

In 1964 following the failure of the 1963 talks, Pakistan referred the Kashmir case to the UN Security Council.

Rann of Kutch & Second Indo-Pak War

Although the Kashmir conflict was the predominant issue dividing the nations, other border disputes existed, most notably over the Rann of Kutch, a barren region in the Indian state of Gujarat. There were many skirmishes between border police forces of India and Pakistan in this area since 1956. India had captured the entire area in 1956 after a clash between border patrols while Pakistan claimed the entire area(9100 Sq KM).

In June 1965, British Prime Minister Harold Wilson successfully persuaded both countries to end hostilities and set up a tribunal to resolve the dispute. The verdict, which came later in 1968, saw Pakistan awarded 910 square KM (910 km2) of the Rann of Kutch, and remaining part left to India.

In 1965, the war 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 conflict began as a clash between border patrols in April in the Rann of Kutch (in Gujarat), but escalated on August 5, when between 26,000 and 33,000 Pakistani soldiers crossed the ceasefire line dressed as Kashmiri locals, crossing into Indian-administered Kashmir.

Infantry and armored units were involved in the conflict backed by Airforce and Navy. As the war expanded, The Pakistani army was called in the name Operation Grandslam. Indian troops crossed the international border and marched to Lahore on September 6. But the failure of Operation Gibraltar and Indian offensive rendered Pakistani Army ineffective.

The war exposed Pakistan’s inadequate standards of military training, its misguided selection of officers, poor command and control arrangements, poor intelligence gathering and bad intelligence procedures.

It ended in a United Nations (UN) mandated ceasefire and the subsequent issuance of the Tashkent Declaration mediated by Russia.

Tashkent agreement signed on January 10, 1966, by Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri and Pakistani President Ayub Khan was an agreement to withdraw to pre-August lines and to restore economic and diplomatic relations.

Bangladesh Liberation and Third Indo-Pak War

Pakistan, since independence, was geopolitically divided into two major regions, West Pakistan and East Pakistan. East Pakistan was occupied mostly by Bengali people and was ignored in the selection of official language as well as budgetary allocation. Although East Pakistan accounted for a slight majority of the country’s population, political power remained in the hands of West Pakistanis. The president of Pakistan used the powers to constantly depose the prime ministers from east Pakistan.

In 1970, when the Awami League, the largest East Pakistani political party, led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, won a landslide victory in the national elections, Pakistani Peoples Party led by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto refused the claim of Awami League and suggested a system of two prime ministers, one for each part. After the failure of talks, there was a civil disobedience movement in East Pakistan.

The Pakistan Army, which had the backing of Islamists, created radical religious militias – the Razakars, Al-Badr, and Al-Shams – to assist it during raids on the local populace. Members of the Pakistani military and supporting militias engaged in mass murder, deportation, and genocidal rape.

The Bangladeshi Declaration of Independence was proclaimed from Chittagong by members of the Mukti Bahini – the national liberation army formed by Bengali military, paramilitary and civilians. The Provisional Government of Bangladesh was formed on 17 April 1971 in Mujibnagar and moved to Calcutta as a government in exile.

India provided substantial diplomatic and economic support to Bangladeshi nationalists. India joined the war on 3 December 1971, after Pakistan launched pre-emptive air strikes on North India. The subsequent Indo-Pakistani War witnessed engagements on two war fronts. With air supremacy achieved in the eastern theater and the rapid advance of the Allied Forces of Bangladesh and India, Pakistan surrendered in Dacca on 16 December 1971 resulting formation of Bangladesh as a new country.

Simla Agreement & Afterwards

In 1972, Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi sign an agreement in the Indian town of Simla, in which both countries agree to “put an end to the conflict and confrontation that have hitherto marred their relations and work for the promotion of a friendly and harmonious relationship and the establishment of a durable peace in the subcontinent”. Both sides agree to settle any disputes “by peaceful means”.

The Simla Agreement designates the ceasefire line of December 17, 1971, as being the new “Line-of-Control (LoC)” between the two countries, which neither side is to seek to alter unilaterally, and which “shall be respected by both sides without prejudice to the recognized position of either side”.

Shimla Accord was a beginning of many positive developments including an agreement to not attack other’s nuclear installations or facilities. These include “nuclear power and research reactors, fuel fabrication, uranium enrichment, isotopes separation and reprocessing facilities as well as any other installations with fresh or irradiated nuclear fuel and materials in any form and establishments storing significant quantities of radioactive materials”. This agreement is later ratified, and the two countries share information on January 1 each year since then.

In 1991, two countries signed agreements on providing advance notification of military exercises and troop movements, as well as on preventing airspace violations and establishing overflight rules followed by a joint declaration prohibiting the use of chemical weapons in 1992.

Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee met with Nawaz Sharif, his Pakistani counterpart, in Lahore in 1999. The two signed the Lahore Declaration, the first major agreement between the two countries since the 1972 Simla Accord. Both countries reaffirm their commitment to the Simla Accord and agree to undertake a number of ‘Confidence Building Measures’ (CBMs).

But Kargil conflict eroded all the hitherto attained progress.

Kargil War & Declining Relations

Kargil was the first armed conflict between the two neighbors since they officially conducted nuclear weapons tests. 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.The Indian Army regained the posts that Pakistan had occupied.

In spite of many positive developments in between, the Indo-Pak relations never got fully stabilized after the Kargil Conflict.

Continued – India – Pakistan Relations After Kargil War.


Indian History – Formation of Pakistan.

International Relations – Indus Water Treaty

World History – Cold War & Non-Alignment


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