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India – Pakistan 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.

Bilateral Relation between India – Pakistan

India- Pakistan Relation PDF

Also, Read India- Pakistan Historical Relation

  • Attempts for engagement:
    • India has made a number of attempts to build normal neighbourly relations with  Pakistan.
      • The External Affairs Minister (EAM) also took the initiative to propose a Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue in December 2015.
  • Trade and Commerce:
    • Bilateral trade:
      • 2020-2021:
        • The total bilateral trade between India and Pakistan was USD 329 million in 2020-2021. 
      • 2021-2022:
        • This has gone up to USD 514 million in 2021-2022, as per the ministry of commerce, with Indian exports outnumbering imports from Pakistan.
    • Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status:
      • India accorded MFN status to Pakistan in 1996.
      • A Pakistan cabinet decision of November 02, 2011, to reciprocate remains unimplemented
  • Humanitarian:
    • In 2017, India suggested to Pakistan to revive the mechanism of the Joint Judicial Committee which looks into humanitarian issues of fishermen and prisoners in each other’s custody.
  • Cultural:
    • The visit to religious shrines between India and Pakistan is governed by the  Bilateral Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines signed between India and Pakistan in  1974. 
    • Kartarpur Corridor: 
      • Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi inaugurated the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor in 2019 on the occasion of the 550th birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji and flagged off the first group of pilgrims to Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib.

Security issues

  • 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.
  • India has repeatedly called upon Pakistan to bring perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attacks to justice expeditiously. However, there has been no progress in the ongoing trial of the Mumbai terror attacks case in Pakistan even after all the evidence has been shared with Pakistan side.

Trade and Commerce

  • India had accorded the Most Favored Nation status to Pakistan in 1996. Pakistan cabinet decision to reciprocate remains unimplemented.
  • In August 2012, India announced a reduction of 30% in its SAFTA Sensitive List for non-Least Developed Countries of SAFTA [including Pakistan], bringing down tariffs on 264 items to 5% within a period of three years.
  • Pakistan continued to follow a restrictive trade policy towards India.
  • In the aftermath of cross border terror attack in Pulwama, India withdrew the Most Favoured Nation Status to Pakistan.
  • India also hiked customs duty on exports from Pakistan to 200% on 16 February 2019. Subsequently, as part of its unilateral measures, Pakistan suspended bilateral trade with India on 7 August 2019.

Indus Waters Treaty

  • 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.

People-to-People Relations

  • As of 01 July 2019, 209 fishermen and 52 other civil prisoners who are believed to be Indian nationals were in the custody of Pakistani authorities.
  • India suggested to Pakistan to revive the mechanism of the Joint Judicial Committee which looks into humanitarian issues of fishermen and prisoners in each other’s custody.
  • The visit to religious shrines between India and Pakistan is governed by the Bilateral Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines signed between India and Pakistan in 1974.
  • The protocol provides for three Hindu pilgrimages and four Sikh pilgrimages every year to visit 15 shrines in Pakistan while five Pakistan pilgrimages visit 7 shrines in India.

Kartarpur Corridor

  • The Government of India 2018 formally conveyed to the Government of Pakistan that it would initiate the Kartarpur Corridor on the Indian side and urged Pakistan to build a corridor with suitable facilities in its territory from the international border to Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan to facilitate easier access and smooth passage of Indian pilgrims throughout the year.

Cultural links

  • India and Pakistan, particularly Northern India and Eastern Pakistan, to some degree have similar cultures, cuisines and languages due to common Indo-Aryan heritage which spans through the two countries and throughout much of the northern subcontinent which also underpins the historical ties between the two.
  • Pakistani singers, musicians, comedians and entertainers have enjoyed widespread popularity in India.
  • Likewise, Indian music and film are very popular in Pakistan.

Sporting ties

  • Cricket and hockey matches between two have often been political in nature.
  • In tennis, Rohan Bopanna of India and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi of Pakistan have formed a successful duo and have been dubbed the “Indo-Pak Express”.

Terrorism and Kashmir – The never-ending issues

  • Cross-border terrorism has always been an issue.
  • Some analysts go to the extent of saying that both nations are always in a perpetual state of war.
  • Despite the fact that after the Kargil conflict, there was a Ceasefire Agreement signed in 2003, there have been regular cross-border ceasefire violations from the Pakistan side of the border with the trend being as such that since 2009 onwards, there has been a rise in the violations (with the exception of 2014).
  • It has killed and injured security forces as well as civilians on both sides.
  • With the regime change in India, there has been a different approach to the violations.
  • With the hardline policy of the new government, there has been massive retaliation to the unprovoked firing.
  • Thus, out of desperation, there has been a rise in the number of infiltrations of terrorists from across the Line of Control (LOC), which has been routine for quite a while now.
  • With the void in between the Kashmiri people and the establishment increasing after the devastating floods of 2014, there was rising discontent again in the valley. The trigger to the events was the killing of the militant commander of the terrorist organization Hizb-ul-Mujahideen Burhan Wani, which led to widespread protests in the valley and the situation has been highly volatile ever since with almost daily scenes of protests and stone pelting in the valley.
  • Pakistan has taken advantage of the situation and has fuelled the protests by providing the elements fighting against the Indian establishment and Forces in the state with all sorts of possible support.
  • The PM of Pakistan, in fact, went a step ahead and during the United Nations General Assembly meeting of 2016, declared Wani as a martyr and the struggle of the people of Kashmir as an Intifada.
  • This is in sync with the stand Pakistan holds on Kashmir i.e., to internationalize the issue of Kashmir and ask for holding a plebiscite in Kashmir under Indian administration to decide the fate of the Kashmiri people. The stand has been rejected by India as it says it is in direct violation of the Shimla Agreement of 1972, which clearly mentions that peaceful resolution to all issues will be through a bilateral approach.
  • After the attack at the Pathankot base in 2016 January, there was again a thaw in the relationship, especially when seen in the context that the Indian PM paid an unscheduled visit to Pakistan to meet his Pakistani counterpart.
  • With Kashmir already on the boil and Pakistan adding fuel to fire the situation, the attack on the Uri Army camp in September 2016 in which 19 Indian soldiers were killed made the Indian PM declare the statement that ‘talks and terrorism cannot go hand in hand.
  • This was followed by surgical strikes carried out by the Indian Army across the LOC targeting the terror infrastructure in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
  • They were carried out at the end of September.
  • In first, India tinkered with the Indus Water Treaty, a Treaty which has stood the test of time and the bitter sour relationship for more than 55 years and was pondering the fact to fully exploit the water potential of the West flowing rivers over which Pakistan has control.
  • Thus, the fact trickles down to the point that India has its stand that until Pakistan doesn’t do enough to tackle the terrorism menace, there can be no talks held between the nations.
  • On the other hand, Pakistan is ready for a dialogue with India but it wants the inclusion and discussion of the Kashmir issue which keeps raking up every time.

Future of the India-Pakistan relationship

  • India and Pakistan are neighbours. Neighbours can’t be changed. Thus, it is in the better interest of both nations that they bring all the issues to the drawing board and resolve them amicably.
  • India wants Pakistan to act more strongly on the terrorism being sponsored from its soil.
  • Also, India wants Pakistan to conclude the trial of 26/11 sooner so that the victims are brought to justice and the conspirers meted out proper punishment.
  • India has genuine concerns, as there are internationally declared terrorists roaming freely in Pakistan and preaching hate sermons as well as instigating terror attacks.
  • With the international community accusing Pakistan of breeding terrorism on its soil, Pakistan cannot remain in a denial state and thus, needs to act tougher on terrorism-related issues.
  • In 2018, Imran Khan became the 22nd Prime Minister of Pakistan. PM Imran Khan received a lot of praise for releasing the IAF pilot Abhinandan who was captured in Pakistan during the counter-terrorism operations (after the Pulwama attack) in 2019.

Major Achievements

Some of the confidence-building measures taken to improve Indo-Pakistan relations are as follows:

1. Military CBMs

  • The agreement on the Prohibition of Attacks against Nuclear Installations and Facilities was signed in 1988 and ratified in 1990. The first exchange took place on January 1, 1992.
  • As per the Agreement, India and Pakistan exchange the list of their nuclear installations to prevent attacking each other’s atomic facilities. This practice has been followed to date.
  • Agreement on Advance Notification on Military Exercises, Manoeuvres and Troop Movements was brought into effect in 1991 and played a crucial role in deescalating the tensions on both sides of the LoC.
  • A communication link between Pakistan Maritime Security Agency and the Indian Coast Guard was established in 2005 to facilitate the early exchange of information regarding anglers who are apprehended for straying into each other’s waters.
  • A hotline between the Directors-General of Military Operations (DGMOs) of both countries has been in effect since 1965 and was used in an unscheduled exchange to discuss troop movements and allay tensions in the aftermath of the 26/11 attacks.

2. Non-military CBMs

  • Delhi-Lahore Bus Service was initiated in 1999. It was suspended in the aftermath of the 2001 Indian Parliament Attack.
    • The bus service was later resumed in 2003 when bilateral relations had improved.
    • This service was recently suspended in 2019 in the aftermath of the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution.
  • Samjhauta Express was launched following the signing of the Shimla Agreement connecting the Pakistani city of Lahore and the Indian town of Attari.
    • It had been suspended frequently, but due to negotiations, it was restarted. In 2019, it was suspended after the revocation of the special status of Kashmir.
  • A weekly Bus Service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad was initiated in 2005. It has withstood the test of time and is still operational.
  • Since 2014, India has been successful in the repatriation of 2133 Indians from Pakistan’s custody (including fishermen), and still, about 275 Indians are believed to be in their custody
  • The Bilateral Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines was signed between the two countries in 1974.
  • The protocol provides for three Hindu pilgrimages and four Sikh pilgrimages every year to visit 15 shrines in Pakistan while five Pakistan pilgrims visit shrines in India.
  • An agreement between India and Pakistan for the facilitation of pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur, Pakistan, was signed on 24 October 2019 in order to fulfil the long-standing demand of the pilgrims to have easy and smooth access to the holy Gurudwara.

Failures in the CBM process

  • Although there are hotlines connecting both military and political leaders in both countries, they have been scarcely used when required the most.
  • The absence of communications has led to suspicions and accusations of misinformation.
  • There is a disproportionate emphasis on military CBMs and inadequate recognition of several momentous non-military CBMs.
  • Governments of both sides often use CBMs as political tools to win over specific constituencies, which can be very damaging in the long run.
  • Public conciliatory statements, which are meant to be CBMs, can have the opposite effect if they are insincere.

Cold Initiatives

  • Composite Dialogue Framework, which was started from 2004 onwards, excluded, some of the contentious issues between the two sides had resulted in good progress on a number of issues.
  • Delhi-Lahore Bus service was successful in de-escalating tensions for some time.
  • Recently, the ‘Ufa ‘Agreement’ was made during the meeting of the National Security Advisors of both nations at Ufa, Russia.

A couple of important points agreed upon in Ufa were:

  1. Early meetings of DG BSF and DG Pakistan Rangers followed by the DGMOs.
  2. Discussing ways and means to expedite the Mumbai case trial, including additional information needed to supplement the trial.

Ufa Agreement has now become a new starting point of any future India-Pakistan dialogue, which is a major gain for India.

However, despite all the initiatives, there is always a breakdown in talks. Thus, more needs to be done for developing peaceful relations. With India and Pakistan both being two Nuclear States, any conflict can lead to a question mark on the existence of the subcontinent as well as the entire planet, especially with the border being ‘live’ almost all the time.


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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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