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India – Pakistan Historical Relation

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Bharathi Pradeep
Bharathi Pradeep
Editor at Bharathi covers topics on Competitive exams, How To guides, Current exams, Current Affairs, Study Materials, etc. Follow her on social media using the links below.

History of Indo-Pak Relations

  • When India was partitioned, the princely states were given the choice to join either India or Pakistan or remain independent. Contentious issues came with Junagarh, Hyderabad and Kashmir.
  • Sardar Patel handled Junagarh and Hyderabad with an iron hand.
  • Pakistan did not see many opportunities in those two states as Junagarh was predominantly Hindu and Hyderabad was not geographically contiguous with Pakistan.
  • However, Jinnah believed that Kashmir would fall in his lap given Kashmir’s geographical location, religious affinity and economic relations with Pakistan.

1947-48 Indo-Pak War

  • When Hari Singh, the ruler of Kashmir, vacillated over the status of Kashmir, Jinnah grew impatient.
  • In October 1947, he sent tribal raiders supported by the Pak Army to take control of Kashmir.
  • Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession with India and India sent troops to Srinagar and successfully defended the capital.
  • The war-front during at the time of the ceasefire became the ceasefire line and Pakistan gained control of one-third of Kashmir.

1965 Indo-Pak War

  • This was the second attempt by Pakistan to forcefully occupy Kashmir.
  • They were equipped with arms by the USA and the UK and they assumed that India would be weak after the political void created by Nehru’s death.
  • They also miscalculated that they would get support from Kashmiri Muslims.
  • India put Pakistan on the defensive in Kashmir and went on the offensive in Punjab, reaching up to Lahore.
  • Finally, both nations agreed to a ceasefire and met at Tashkent under the mediation of the USSR.

Tashkent Declaration 1966

  • This agreement was signed on 10th January 1966 between India and Pakistan in Tashkent (now in Uzbekistan) with the mediation of the USSR.
  • The objective was to restore normal and peaceful relations between the two countries and to promote friendly relations between their people.

Salient Points of the Tashkent Agreement

  • As per the UN Charter, not to have recourse to force and to settle their disputes through peaceful means.
  • Both sides withdrew their armies back to pre-war positions, and declare a ceasefire.
  • Non-interference in the internal affairs of each other.
  • Repatriation of Prisoners of war (PoW).
  • Restoration of economic and trade relations, communication, diplomatic relations and cultural exchanges.

This agreement did bring in peace but it did not last long as Pakistan went back to its ways. The declaration is also criticised in India for not clinching a no-war pact and letting go of Haji Pir pass which was strategically important for India. However, Pakistan also had control over Indian territory in Kashmir and hence it was given and taken.

1971 Indo-Pak War

  • Bengali nationalism in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) trumped the ‘Two Nation Theory and demanded freedom from Urdu and Punjab hegemony imposed by West Pakistan.
  • The ruling elite of West Pakistan committed war crimes and genocide of Bengalis in East Pakistan.
  • Many Bangladeshi refugees fleeing from Pakistani military-led oppression poured into West Bengal and Assam, causing a crisis.
  • India was drawn into the war when Pakistan launched airstrikes on Indian airbases.
  • In merely 13 days, Pakistan surrendered with 93,000 troops becoming PoWs.

Shimla Agreement 1972

This agreement was signed between Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Indira Gandhi in the aftermath of the 1971 Indo-Pak War. 

Salient Points of the Shimla Agreement

  • Both countries settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations. (This is referred to by India whenever a third party like the USA is invoked to mediate in the Kashmir issue).
  • The ceasefire line of 17 December 1971 was converted into a line of control (LOC) between India and Pakistan.
  • Neither party called unilaterally to change the status of the LOC.
  • Mutual respect for each other’s national unity, territorial integrity, political independence and sovereign equality.

India’s objective was to achieve a lasting solution to the Kashmir issue and if not then at least prevent Pakistan from internationalising it. It also aimed to achieve peaceful relations and not push Pakistan into humiliation by pulling Versailles on them. But a military coup in 1977 led by General Zia-ul-Haq negated all of this. He acquired sophisticated arms from the USA and made the USA look the other way while Pakistan developed nuclear weapons. They achieved de facto military power parity by becoming a nuclear power. It allowed them to take the war to Indian territory through terror proxies. The generous agreement given by a victorious India to a crushed Pakistan in the hope of peaceful and cooperative relations was dishonoured by the latter.

Kargil War 1999

  • Tensions grew in the relations after both nations conducted nuclear tests within a span of two weeks in 1998.
  • While the Indian government was offering an olive branch to Pakistan to normalise relations through Lahore Declaration, Pakistan backstabbed by infiltrating and capturing certain points across the LoC in Kashmir.
  • India went into the offensive and recaptured the area.
  • Pakistan lost face in the world as it was rebuked for instigating a war between two nuclear-armed nations.

Recent Terror Attacks

  • Any hope for normalisation of relations between the two countries in the near future has been dashed as Pakistan continues to provide logistical and financial support to terrorist activities in India and orchestrate major terrorist attacks like the 2008 Mumbai Attack, the 2016 Pathankot Air Force Station attack and the dastardly 2019 Pulwama car bomb attack.
  • Public opinion in India has also majorly shifted against any normalisation.
  • These attacks are often timed when India engages with the civilian government in Pakistan.
  • It is a way for the Pakistani military to show that they are the de facto political power in Pakistan and any normalisation will be derailed as it goes against the interests of the Pakistani military.

Other Major Issues in India-Pakistan Relations

Though Kashmir is is the major thorn in the relations of India and Pakistan, there are other contentious issues too. Let us understand them one by one.

Indus Water Treaty

The Indus Water Treaty (IWT), brokered by the World Bank, was signed in 1960 between India and Pakistan. It is the guiding principle behind the water sharing formula of Indus and its tributaries between the two countries. It is cited as the model and most successful water sharing agreement in the world.

Salient Features of Indus Water Treaty

  • All the waters of the Eastern Rivers (Sutlej, Beas and Ravi) shall be available for the unrestricted use of India.
  • Pakistan shall receive all the waters of the Western Rivers (Jhelum, Chenab and Indus) for unrestricted use and India should lead flow all the waters of the Western Rivers.
  • However India is allowed to use water from the Western Rivers for the following purpose, without materially affecting its usage by Pakistan:
    • Domestic Use
    • Nono-Consumptive Use
    • (iii)Agricultural Use
    • (iv)Generation of Hydro-electricity
  • Permanent Indus Commission was set up.

Even though India is allowed to use the water of Western Rivers, it has not done so. However, in recent times, due to Pakistan’s excesses committed through the terror proxies, India has been forced to rethink about utilising the water of these rivers. Also, due to the growth in population and consequent rise in water demand, time has come for India to review the Indus Water Treaty. In the past, India had initiated the Tulbul barrage on Jhelum which was suspended in 1987 after Pakistan protested. Pakistan also protested against Kishanganga Hydroelectricity Project and went to Permanent Court of Arbitration (Hague) but it was commissioned in 2018.

Factors behind the complex bilateral ties between the two countries

1. Cross-border Terrorism

  • Terrorism emanating from territories under Pakistan’s control remains a core concern in bilateral relations.
  • India has consistently stressed the need for Pakistan to take credible, irreversible and verifiable action to end cross-border terrorism against India.
  • Pakistan has yet not brought the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attacks 2008 to justice in the ongoing trials, even after all the evidence have been provided to them.
  • India has firmly stated that it will not tolerate and comprise on issues regarding national security.
  • Based on attacks in India and involvement of the neighboring country, the Indian Army had conducted surgical strike at various terrorist launch pads across the Line of Control, as an answer to the attack at the army camp in Uri, Jammu and Kashmir.
  • India had again hit back over the cross-border terror attack on the convey of Indian security forces in Pulwama by carrying out a successful airstrike at a training camp of JeM in Balakot, Pakistan.

2. Kashmir

  • Due to political differences between the two countries, the territorial claim of Kashmir has been the subject of wars in 1947, 1965 and a limited conflict in 1999 and frequent ceasefire violations and promotion of rebellion within the Indian side of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The then princely state remains an area of contention and is divided between the two countries by the Line of Control (LoC), which demarcates the ceasefire line agreed post-1947 conflict.

3. Siachen Glacier

  • Siachen Glacier is located in Northern Ladakh in the Karakoram Range.
  • Most of the Siachen Glacier is disputed between India and Pakistan. Before 1984, neither of the two countries had any permanent presence on the glacier.
  • Under the Shimla Agreement of 1972, the Siachen was called barren and useless. This Agreement also did not specify the boundary between India and Pakistan.
  • When India got intelligence that Pakistan was going to occupy Siachen Glacier, it launched Operation Meghdoot to reach the glacier first.
  • Following the success of Operation Meghdoot, the Indian Army obtained the area at a higher altitude and Pakistan army getting a much lower altitude. Thus, India has a strategic advantage in this region.
  • Following the 2003 armistice treaty between the two countries, firing and bombardment have ceased in this area, though both the sides have stationed their armies in the region.

4. Sir Creek Dispute

  • Sir Creek is a 96 km estuary in the Rann of Kutch. Rann of Kutch lies between Gujarat (India) and Sindh (Pakistan).
  • Pakistan claims the entire Sir Creek in accordance with a 1914 agreement that was signed between the Government of Sindh and Rulers of Kutch.
  • India, on the other hand, claims that the boundary lies mid-channel as per a 1925 map.
  • If one country agrees to the other’s position, the former will lose a vast amount of Exclusive Economic Zone that is rich with gas and mineral deposits.

5. Water disputes

  • The Indus Waters Treaty is the water distribution treaty signed between India and Pakistan, brokered by World Bank.
  • According to the treaty, three rivers, Ravi, Sutlej and Beas were given to India for exclusive use and the other three rivers, Sindh, Jhelum and Chenab were given to Pakistan.
  • This treaty failed to address the dispute since the source rivers of the Indus Basin were in India, having the potential to create drought and famines in Pakistan.
  • Last year, Modi Government stated that India would no longer allow its share of river waters to flow into Pakistan in response to the Pulwama terror attack.
  • According to the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty, India can exploit rivers under its control without disturbing the flow or quantum. India plans to divert its three rivers to the Yamuna.


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Bharathi Pradeep
Bharathi Pradeep
Editor at Bharathi covers topics on Competitive exams, How To guides, Current exams, Current Affairs, Study Materials, etc. Follow her on social media using the links below.

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