Pakistan and India emerged on world map as independent states in 1947 and ironically continue to remain hostage to protracted rivalry and conflicts since their independence. Both states went to war three times and continue to live under in the world’s most hostile neighborhood in the shadow of nuclear overhang. The conflict between both states has affected interstate and societal relations with certain peace initiatives having no meaningful result.
Historical Perspective: The birth of Pakistan was attended by a holocaust unprecedented in history. About a million defenseless people were mercilessly butchered and about 10 to 12 million displaced from their homes.
The Kashmir Issue: In 1948 India annexed two princely states namely Junagarh and Hyderabad. Both states had Muslim rulers but majority of population was Hindu and Indian logic of annexation was the population factor. Same year India occupied Kashmir with exactly opposite logic with Hindu ruler and 77% Muslim majority population which led to first Pakistan – India war. The State of Jammu and Kashmir, which was expected to accede to Pakistan on account of its 77% Muslim majority and its cultural and commercial links to West Punjab (Pakistan), but the Hindu ruler chose to accede to India
United Nations Security Council Resolutions: Security Council resolution 47 of 21 April, 1948, 51 of June 48 and ratified on 5th Jan 1949 states, ‘The question of the accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India Pakistan will be decided through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite.’
The Aftermath: Pakistan remains firm on its stance that Kashmiris be permitted to exercise their legitimate right of self-determination through plebiscite as enunciated in UNSC resolutions. India is aware that outcome of plebiscite will not be in her favor, therefore has made every possible effort to deny this right to Kashmiris. India has more than half a million forces in Occupied Kashmir involved in massive human right violations. APHC claims, Indian forces have killed more than 93,000, with another 100,000 either missing or under detention.
Water Disputes: The Indus Waters Treaty 1960 governs the rivers that flow from India into Pakistan. Water is again one possible cause for a conflict between the two nations. As per this treaty the waters of the three eastern rivers, the Sutlej, Beas and Ravi shall be available to India, and Pakistan shall receive ‘for unrestricted use all those waters of the western rivers the Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab which India is under obligation to let flow’. With India constructing several dams in the Indus River Basin Pakistan now identifies water disputes as one of the core issue, along with Kashmir, that must be resolved if relations are to be normalized.
Crisis and Wars: I965 War. In 1965, India crossed international border and attacked blaming Pakistan for rendering support to Kashmiri struggle, leading to first full scale war between both the two countries which ended inconclusively. Same year forces of both countries also clashed over 3500 square kilometers land ‘Rann of Kutch’ which was a disputed territory even before partition. After 65 war, through mediation by a third party, Soviet Union the two sides signed the Tashkent Agreement in Jan 1966 to end 19 wars and to live peacefully. 1971 war and breakup of Pakistan. The next crisis was war of 1971 leading to vivisection of Pakistan and emergence of Bangladesh. The insurgency was aided and abetted by the Indian Armed Forces, while Pakistani Armed Forces were perilously outnumbered with lack of air cover and logistics. We lost approximately 6000 soldiers in East Pakistan 26,000 soldiers became prisoners of war. We also lost about 2000 soldiers on the Western front. Indian losses in men and material were much higher.
The Siachin Crisis: In 1999 a major battle was fought when India accused Pakistan of occupying certain strategic heights along the line of control, which traditionally were left unoccupied in the peak winters. Indian believes that adventure was designed to internationalize the Kashmir issue. This ended in stalemate with troops deployed in this area for last 16 years.
Attack on Indian Parliament and Mumbai Attacks: Attack on Indian Parliament in December 2001 and Terror Attacks in Mumbai in 2008 brought both countries at the brink of war. Indian Government blamed Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) And Jashe Muhammad and contemplated undertaking hot pursuit actions. These were abandoned because of fears that it would escalate into a greater conflict and secondly it would unite all Jihadi groups in Pakistan.
Fallout of the Situation in Afghanistan: Pakistan the front line ally of global war on terror became victim of Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters as they shifted to tribal regions of Pakistan. India is since extending material and moral support to Tehreek-e- Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to conduct operations against security forces as well as for carrying out terrorist activities in urban areas of Pakistan. Pakistan has so far lost about 50,000 personnel, including army, police, and civilians. According to Economic Survey of Pakistan, the total loss sustained by Pakistan since 9/11 has risen to $ 107 billion. In Zarbe – Azab operation launched in North Waziristan, Pakistan has so far lost 347 officers and soldiers of the Army and killed up to 2763 extremists.
Indian Blatant Interference in Pakistan: India is actively supporting terrorist activities in the major urban centers of Pakistan. Indian National Security Advisor openly advocates disturbing Pakistan economic, internal security and domestic political balance and equilibrium through what he terms as fourth generation warfare. He has even threatened Pakistan with the loss of Its Province Baluchistan in case incident like Mumbai bombing are repeated. The massacre of 146 teachers and children in APS Peshawar, 22 students in Bacha Khan University Charsada and Killing of !6 persons in a bus on 16th Mar in Peshawa is a clear indication of Indian involvement through their agents in Afghanistan.
Shimla Agreement: The Simla Agreement which flows from the Principles and Purposes of UN Charter (Annex B) was signed in July 72 in the aftermath of Dismemberment of Pakistan on 16 Dec71. It provided framework for normalization of relations. Article 1 &II state: “That the principles and purposes of the charter of United Nations shall govern the relations between the two countries.“That the two countries resolve to settle their differences through peaceful means, through bilateral negotiations, or by any other peaceful means mutually agreed upon between them.”
The Stand of Two Sides: Pakistan believes that Shimla Agreement has not altered the status of Jammu and Kashmir, and more than twenty resolutions of United Nations on Kashmir. Though it was India that took Kashmir to United Nations, it now believes that UN resolutions No 49 and No 51 calling for ceasefire followed by plebiscite in Kashmir are no longer relevant.
The Military Equation: The Indian and Pakistan’s militaries rank 2nd and 6th respectively in the world in terms of size with a track record of three major and a limited war between them. In the conventional sense India has superiority 2. 4 to 1 in Army, 4.5 to 1 in Air force and 7 to1 in Navy over Pakistan. Out of thirteen Indian Corps, nine are poised towards Pakistan.
The Nuclear Standoff: In May 1988, India carried out five underground nuclear and Pakistan responded with six tests. Since then the two sides have progressed in the nuclear race. The nuclear stand-off between India and Pakistan may be the most dangerous pink flamingo in the world today Pakistani efforts to enhance the quality and quantity of their nuclear arsenal is a result of “India’s growing conventional capabilities and its proactive military plans. Deterrence worked in the Indo Pakistan standoffs in the year 2001-2002 and 2008 following melodramas of Indian parliament and Mumbai attacks and is still a viable means of deterring war.
Nuclear Non Proliferation & Indo- US Nuclear Deal; There have been four notable agreements on nuclear issue, the non-attack agreement of 1988, notification on missile tests, agreement to notify each other in case of nuclear accidents and establishment of direct communication line between the two Foreign Secretaries. Pakistan has proposed a series of security initiatives on nuclear non-proliferation like a nuclear free zone in South Asia, nuclear disarmament and signing of nuclear non-proliferation treaty, if India does so. India has rejected all these.
Indian Civil Military Psyche: The other facet is the militarization of the civil political psyche in case of India, RSS and Shiv Sena have extreme anti Pakistan stance. Indian cancellation of cricket series on the pressure of RSS, cancellation of a concert of a Pakistani artist at Calcutta and the blackening of the face of the Indian anchor who was lunching the book of former Pakistan Minister in Mumbai is a manifestation of this mentality. RSS is also involved in bombing of Samjhota Express train in which sixty-eight Pakistanis were killed.
Role of Indian Media: The relationship between the two countries is held hostage by an extremely hostile Indian media. It is only lucky that Indian media is banned in Pakistan, otherwise any progress in relationship will be further held hostage by Indian campaign to poison, vilify, preempt and deter genuine progress. The Indo Pak Talks: Pakistan believes that the solution of core issue of Kashmir is essential for improvement in bilateral relations. In 1997, the two sides agreed to form a joint working group for a composite dialogue on all outstanding issues including Kashmir, conventional and nuclear CBMs, Siachen, Sir Greek, water distribution, border fencing, line of control demarcation and trade. The Foreign Secretaries of the two countries were to meet on 15 Jan16 to discuss the modalities for talks, when Pathankot an Indian Air Force base was attacked on New Year eve by six terrorists putting the whole ambit of relationship once again in jeopardy.
Maj. Gen. (R) Muhammad Tahir
Write is renowned author of Books That Changed My Life, Life and Life Lessons’, ‘The Rising and Setting Sun’ and ‘The Pearls of Wisdom’.