An Analysis of Pakistan-India Relations

Introduction

Relations are built on mutual trust. This is no different when these relations are between states. Salient features of Pak-India relations include strong feelings of mistrust and suspicion on both sides. This stems from a volatile past -i.e. the hasty separation of 1947, the wars of 1965 and 1971 and the Kargil Conflict- and is exacerbated by the on and off border skirmishes and standoffs between the two countries. Reservations of one country about the other are so strong that any terrorist activity/insurgency in either country is somehow linked with or blamed to have been caused by the other one. Also both countries have strong militaries with India’s being much stronger than Pakistan’s and with Pakistan’s having significant power independent of the governments so that even if relations are good on a diplomatic level, things often escalate and become heated at the borders between the two nations. In such conditions, envisioning positive relations is not only impractical, but letting our guard down in the face of a continuous threat, a poor strategy.

1971 war and India’s role in the creation of Bangladesh

Bitterness over the 1971 war exists in Pakistan not only because of the direct war with India and the high casualties or the humiliation of defeat but because of the strong role played by India in the permanent alteration of Pakistan’s boundaries and the secession of East Pakistan.

In the 1970 elections, Awami League (led by Sheikh Mujib-ur-Rehman), which was the largest political party in East Pakistan won a majority of the seats. However, General Yahya Khan, refused Awami League the right to form a government, which led to protests all across East Pakistan, with the population demanding self-determination and acceptance of the election results. In 1971, an operation was led by Yahya Khan against these protestors and all major political parties and newspapers in East Pakistan were banned. A West Pakistani-dominated martial law was imposed on the province.

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Kargil Conflict-1999

External Factors that have precipitated military standoffs on the borders

Events in both countries have caused friction on both sides of the border, with the armies massing, on alert and prepared to fight if the need arise. Diplomatic ties become adversely affected and it is hard to taper these tensions and start anew.

2001: After the terrorist attacks on the Indian Parliament in 2001, there was a massing of troops on either side of the border and the LoC in the region of Kashmir. India alleged that the Pakistan-based terror groups of Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad which were also carrying out an insurgency in Indian administered Kashmir and were purportedly backed by the ISI- a charge denied by Pakistan- were responsible for these attacks. Tensions were high and there were speculations of a nuclear war between the two nations in the western media. However, these deescalated following international diplomatic mediation which resulted in the October 2002 withdrawal of Indian and Pakistani troops from the international border.

2007 and 2008: The Samjhauta Express Bombings of 2007 were alleged to have been carried out by the Hindu fundamentalist group Abhinav Bharat. Even though these allegations were never proven to be true, they did give rise to Anti-India sentiments in Pakistan. In 2008, India held the Pakistan and the ISI directly culpable for the Mumbai attacks. This led to strained relations between the two countries for a period of time. An anti-Pakistan sentiment also rose in India. There was a standoff at the border with the navies, armies and air forces on red alert and it had the potential for dire consequences since both nations were nuclear powers and had already participated in many wars. John McCain said, “The Indians are on the verge of some kind of attack on Pakistan”. However the tensions were dissipated when both sides made an effort to have discussions and avert nuclear war.

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Border Skirmishes in the Recent Years

Border skirmishes and cross border firing between the Border Security Force and Pakistan Army along the Line of Control (LoC) in the disputed Kashmir area and Punjab have resulted in a high number of casualties of civilians and soldiers on both sides in the past decade. In 2011, shooting took place across the Line of Control in Kupwara District/Neelam Valley between 30 August and 1 September 2011. Casualties included five Indian soldiers and three Pakistani soldiers. Both countries accused each other for instigating the hostilities.

From mid- January 2013, a series of armed skirmishes took place along the LoC in the disputed Kashmir area. They have been described as the “worst bout of fighting in the region in nearly 10 years.” They were initiated after reports of a Pakistani border post being attacked by Indians, killing one Pakistani soldier. The Indian authorities denied having crossed the demarcation line and claimed that the attack was in retaliation to prior Pakistani ceasefire violations. On January 8th, Indian authorities alleged that two Indian soldiers had been killed when Pakistani forces crossed the LoC. Even though Pakistan denied these reports, the incident led to an outrage by the Indian army and government and an outcry in the media claiming that one of the soldiers had been beheaded. Talks were held between Lieutenant General Vinod Bhatia and Major General Ashfaq Nadeem who agreed that tensions needed to be tapered. But these skirmishes continued and the death toll reached 9 Pakistani and 8 Indian soldiers in August.

On 9 October 2014 Indian media claimed that a total of 9 military personal and 6 civilians were killed on Pakistani side. 12 Indian soldiers and 1 civilian were killed on Indian side

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These skirmishes continued well in 2014, with both India and Pakistan trading blame for the violence. In October, the situation became aggressive following which then Indian Defence Minister Arun Jaitley urged Pakistan to stop “unprovoked” firing and warned that the response by India would be “unaffordable”. His Pakistani counterpart, Khawaja Asif replied to the warning with subtle mention of “nuclear power” that the country would be able to respond “befittingly” to the Indian aggression. So far in 2015, Pakistan claims to have lost 12 of its soldiers.

Conclusion

India and Pakistan border disputes and skirmishes are not all as blatant as is believed. India is speculated to have been making strong efforts to manipulate the borders of Pakistan by financially backing Baloch separatist insurgents, causing unrest in the country. British Intelligence officials believe India is providing undercover support to insurgents in Balochistan according to WikiLeaks cables. This support is speculated to have strengthened after Pakistan’s purported role in backing the Lashkar-e-Taiba post the 2008 Mumbai attacks. According to a security official Pakistan is considering taking up the issue of Indian involvement in Balochistan unrest at the United Nations.,” This matter cannot be ignored. Also, for nations such as India and Pakistan, with a long-standing conflict over Kashmir, territorial integrity is a huge priority. This is evident from the large defense budgets of both nations. [Check] Given this, the on and off cross-border firings, the general sentiments in both countries towards the other, and the aggregate of thousands of casualties in the conflicts and wars over the past sixty-seven years, it is evident why the attempts at improving relations between the two nations fail.

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