Conflict Over Afghanistan2
The February 2010 attack on the Indian guest houses was a rare overt act of hostility in the long covert struggle India and Pakistan have been waging on and off for more than sixty years over their competing influence in Afghanistan. But it was not the only such act. In fact it was the third in less than three years.
Fifteen months before, on October 8, 2009, a massive car bomb had been set off outside the Indian embassy in Kabul killing 17 people and wounding 63. Most of the dead were ordinary Afghans caught walking near the target. A few Indian security personnel were wounded, but blast walls built following a much deadlier bombing the previous year which killed 40 and wounded more than 100—also thought to have been sponsored by Pakistan—deflected the force of the explosion, so that physical damage to the embassy was limited to some of the doors and windows being blown out. In the case of the 2009 attack, American officials went public with details from phone intercepts which they said revealed the involvement of the ISI.
The hostility between India and Pakistan lies at the heart of the current war in Afghanistan.
The hostility between India and Pakistan lies at the heart of the current war in Afghanistan. Most observers in the West view the Afghanistan conflict as a battle between the U.S. and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) on one hand, and al-Qaida and the Taliban on the other. In reality this has long since ceased to be the case. Instead our troops are now caught up in a complex war shaped by two pre-existing and overlapping conflicts: one local and internal, the other regional.
Within Afghanistan, the war is viewed primarily as a Pashtun rebellion against President Hamid Karzai’s regime, which has empowered three other ethnic groups—the Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras of the north—to a degree that the Pashtuns resent. For example, the Tajiks, who constitute only 27% of the Afghan population, still make up 70% of the officers in the Afghan army.
Although Karzai himself is a Pashtun, many of his fellow tribesmen view his presence as mere window-dressing for a U.S.-devised realignment of long-established power relations in the country, dating back to 2001 when the U.S. toppled the overwhelmingly Pashtun Taliban.
The Pashtuns had held sway in Afghan politics ever since the state assumed its current boundaries in the 1860s. By aligning with the Tajiks of the northern provinces against the Pashtuns of the south, the U.S. saw itself making common cause with the forces of secularism against militant Islam; but it was unwittingly taking sides in a complex civil war that has been going on since the 1970s—and that had roots going back much further than that. To this day, because the Pashtuns feel dominated by their ancestral enemies, many support or at least feel some residual sympathies for the Taliban.
There is also an age-old Pashtun-on-Pashtun element to the conflict. It pits Taliban from the Ishaqzai tribe, parts of the Nurzais, Achakzais, and most of the Ghilzais, especially the Hotak and Tokhi Ghilzais, against the more “establishment” Durrani Pashtun tribes: the Barakzais, Popalzais and Alikozais.
Beyond this indigenous conflict looms the much more dangerous hostility between the two regional powers—both armed with nuclear weapons: India and Pakistan. Their rivalry is particularly flammable as they vie for influence over Afghanistan. Compared to that prolonged and deadly contest, the U.S. and ISAF are playing little more than a bit part—and they, unlike the Indians and Pakistanis, are heading for the exit.
July 1999: U.S. President Bill Clinton (r) shakes hands with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif outside Blair House following their talks on de-escalating tensions between Pakistan and India over Kashmir in Washington July 4.
Since the Partition of the Subcontinent in 1947, India and Pakistan have fought three wars—the most recent in 1971—and they seemed on the verge of going nuclear against each other during a crisis in 1999, when Pakistani troops crossed a ceasefire line and occupied 500 square miles of Indian Kashmir, including a Himalayan border post near the town of Kargil. As tensions rose, the Pakistanis took ominous steps with their nuclear arsenal. President Bill Clinton mediated a solution. In intense negotiations at Blair House in Washington over the Fourth of July weekend, Clinton persuaded Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to order a pullback of his country’s forces to the Pakistani side of the line. That concession cost Nawaz his job and, very nearly, his life. The army commander, Pervez Musharraf, mounted a coup and sentenced Nawaz to death. Clinton intervened and Nawaz was exiled to Saudi Arabia.
It is easy to understand why Pakistan might feel insecure. India’s population (1.2 billion) and its economy (GDP of $1.4 trillion) are about eight times the size of Pakistan’s (180 million Pakistanis generating an annual GDP of only $210 billion). During the period of India’s greatest growth, which lasted from 2006 to 2010, there were four years during which the annual increase in the Indian economy was almost equal to the entire Pakistani economy.
In the eyes of the world, never has the contrast between the two countries appeared so stark as it is now: one is widely perceived as the next great superpower, famous for its software geniuses, its Bollywood babes, its fast-growing economy and super-rich magnates; the other written off as a failed state, a world center of Islamic radicalism, the hiding place of Osama bin Laden, and the only ally of the U.S. whose airspace Washington has been ready to violate and whose villages it regularly bombs. However unfair this stereotyping may be, it’s not surprising that many Pakistanis see their massive neighbor as threatening the very existence of their state.
In December 1971, Pakistani and Indian forces clashed in Khulna, in what is now Bangladesh. The battle was the last major engagement fought on the eastern front of the third war between India and Pakistan. In this photo, Indian soldiers walk past a destroyed Indian tank.
To defend themselves, Pakistani planners long ago developed a doctrine of “strategic depth.” The idea had its origins in the debacle of 1971, when, in less than two weeks, India crushingly defeated Pakistan in their third war. That conflict ended with East Pakistan, which had risen up against West Pakistan, becoming the independent state of Bangladesh. According to the Pakistanis’ narrative, the dismemberment of their country—which they blame on India—made it all the more important to develop and maintain friendly relations with Afghanistan, in large measure in order to have a secure refuge in the case of a future war with India. The porous border offers a route by which Pakistani leaders, troops and other assets, including its nuclear weapons, could retreat to the northwest in the case of an Indian invasion.
For the idea to work, it is essential that the Afghan government be a close ally of Pakistan, and willing to help fight India. When the Taliban were in power, they were seen as the perfect partner for the Pakistani military. Although widely viewed in the West as medieval if not barbaric, the Taliban regime was valued in Pakistan as fiercely anti-India and therefore deserving Pakistani arms and assistance.
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The current president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai has been the dominant political figure there since the U.S.-led overthrow of the Taliban regime in 2001. An ethnic Pashtun, he is a member of the Popalzai tribe. He has lived, worked and studied in both India and Pakistan. His second presidential term ends in 2014, and he has said that he will step aside.
After the Taliban were ousted by the U.S. after 9/11, a major strategic shift occurred: the government of Afghanistan became an ally of India’s, thus fulfilling the Pakistanis’ worst fear. The president of post-Taliban Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, hated Pakistan with a passion, in part because he believed that the ISI had helped assassinate his father in 1999. At the same time he felt a strong emotional bond with India, where he had gone to university in the Himalayan city of Simla, once the summer capital of British India. When I interviewed Karzai in Kabul in early March, he spoke warmly of his days in Simla, calling them some of the happiest of his life, and he was moved almost to tears as he recalled the sound of monsoon rain hitting the tin roof of his student lodgings and the sight of the beautiful cloud formations drifting before his windows. He also expressed his love of Indian food and even admitted to liking Bollywood films. Karzai views India as democratic, stable and relatively rich, the perfect partner for Afghanistan, a “best friend” as he frequently calls it.
With Karzai in office, India seized the opportunity to increase its political and economic influence in Afghanistan, re-opening its embassy in Kabul, opening four regional consulates, and providing substantial reconstruction assistance totaling around $1.5 billion, with an additional $500 million promised within the next few years.
For the Pakistani military, the existential threat posed by India has taken precedence over all other geopolitical and economic goals.
An Afghan soldier searches a Pashtun voter at the polling station during parliamentary elections in Spin Boldak near the Afghan/Pakistan border September 18, 2005.
REUTERS/Saeed Ali Achakzai MK/TC
That said, India’s presence is still, even now, quite modest. According to Indian diplomatic sources, there are actually fewer than 3,600 Indians in Afghanistan, almost all of them businessmen and contract workers in the agriculture, telecommunications, manufacturing and mining sectors. There are only 10 Indian diplomatic officers, compared to nearly 140 in the UK embassy and 1,200 in the U.S. embassy. But the Pakistani military, which effectively controls Pakistan’s foreign policy, remains paranoid about even this small an Indian presence in what they regard as their strategic Afghan backyard—much as the British used to be about Russians in Afghanistan during the days of the Great Game.
For the Pakistani military, the existential threat posed by India has taken precedence over all other geopolitical and economic goals. The fear of being squeezed in an Indian nutcracker is so great that it has led the ISI to take steps that put Pakistan’s own internal security at risk, as well as Pakistan’s relationship with its main strategic ally, the U.S. For much of the last decade the ISI has sought to restore the Taliban to power so that it can oust Karzai and his Indian friends.
In a nation whose government has often been run by the military, and whose foreign policy has been seen as carried out by the ISI, General Kayani has held the leadership of both institutions. Currently chief of staff of the army, a position he has held since 2007, Kayani reversed Musharraf's policy of staffing military officers in the government's civilian posts. Forbes magazine ranked him the 28th most powerful person in the world in 2012.
To achieve this goal, the Pakistani military has relied on “asymmetric warfare”— using jihadi fighters for its own ends. This strategy goes back over 30 years. Since the early 1980s, the ISI has consciously and consistently funded and incubated a variety of Islamic extremist groups. Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid calculates that there are currently more than 40 such extremist groups operating in Pakistan, most of whom have strong links with the ISI as well as the local Islamic political parties.
Pakistani generals have long viewed the jihadis as a cost-effective and easily-deniable means of controlling events in Afghanistan—something they briefly achieved with the Taliban capture of Kabul in 1996. By the same means, the Pakistanis have kept much of the Indian army bogged down in Kashmir ever since the separatist insurgency broke out in 1990. The generals like using jihadis because they help foster a sense of nationalism based on the twin prongs of hatred for India and the bonding power of Islamic identity.
A Short History of India - Pakistan Relations
It is unclear how many Pakistanis still endorse this strategy and how many are having second thoughts. There are clearly those in the army who are now alarmed at the amount of sectarian and political violence the jihadis have brought to Pakistan. But that view is contested by some in both the army and the ISI who continue to believe that the jihadis are a more practical defense against Indian hegemony than even nuclear weapons. For them, support for carefully chosen jihadis in Afghanistan is a vital survival strategy well worth the risk. General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the commander-in-chief of the Pakistani army, was once in this camp. As he put it in a speech in 2001, “Strategically, we cannot have an Afghan army on our western border which has an Indian mindset and capabilities to take on Pakistan.” How far he has now changed his position remains a matter of debate.
Brookings President Strobe Talbott interviews the author about the contest for power and influence in one of the world's most dangerous regions.
Pakistan-watchers are unanimous that, while Kayani is mindful of the Taliban threat in his own country, his burning obsession is still India’s presence in Afghanistan. As I was told by a senior British diplomat in Islamabad, "At the moment, Afghanistan is all [Kayani] thinks about and all he wants to talk about. It’s all he gets briefed about and it’s his primary focus of attention. There is an Indo-Pak proxy war, and it’s going on right now.”
Relations between India and Pakistan have been complex and largely hostile due to a number of historical and political events. Relations between the two states have been defined by the violent partition of British India in 1947, the Kashmir conflict and the numerous military conflicts fought between the two nations. Consequently, their relationship has been plagued by hostility and suspicion. Northern India and Pakistan somewhat overlap in areas of certain demographics, shared lingua francas (mainly Punjabi and Hindustani) and shared cuisines inherited from the Mughal Empire.
After the dissolution of the British Raj in 1947, two new sovereign nations were formed—the Dominion of India and the Dominion of Pakistan. The subsequent partition of the former British India displaced up to 12.5 million people, with estimates of loss of life varying from several hundred thousand to 1 million.India emerged as a secular nation with a Hindu majority population and a large Muslim minority, while Pakistan emerged also as a secular nation with an overwhelming Muslim majority population; later becoming an Islamic republic although its constitution guarantees freedom of religion to people of all faiths.
Soon after their independence, India and Pakistan established diplomatic relations but the violent partition and numerous territorial claims would overshadow their relationship. Since their Independence, the two countries have fought three major wars, one undeclared war and have been involved in numerous armed skirmishes and military standoffs. The Kashmir conflict is the main centre-point of all of these conflicts with the exception of the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971 and Bangladesh Liberation War, which resulted in the secession of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).
There have been numerous attempts to improve the relationship—notably, the Shimla summit, the Agra summit and the Lahore summit. Since the early 1980s, relations between the two nations soured particularly after the Siachen conflict, the intensification of Kashmir insurgency in 1989, Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests in 1998 and the 1999 Kargil war. Certain confidence-building measures — such as the 2003 ceasefire agreement and the Delhi–Lahore Bus service – were successful in de-escalating tensions. However, these efforts have been impeded by periodic terrorist attacks. The 2001 Indian Parliament attack almost brought the two nations to the brink of a nuclear war. The 2007 Samjhauta Express bombings, which killed 68 civilians (most of whom were Pakistani), was also a crucial point in relations. Additionally, the 2008 Mumbai attacks carried out by Pakistani militants resulted in a severe blow to the ongoing India-Pakistan peace talks.
After a brief thaw following the election of new governments in both nations, bilateral discussions again stalled after the 2016 Pathankot attack. In September 2016, a terrorist attack on an Indian military base in Indian-administered Kashmir, the deadliest such attack in years, killed 19 Indian Army soldiers. India's claim that the attack had been orchestrated by a Pakistan-supported jihadist group was denied by Pakistan, which claimed the attack had been a local reaction to unrest in the region due to excessive force by Indian security personnel. The attack sparked a military confrontation across the Line of Control, with an escalation in ceasefire violations and further militant attacks on Indian security forces. As of December 2016, the ongoing confrontation and an increase in nationalist rhetoric on both sides has resulted in the collapse of bilateral relations, with little expectation they will recover.
Since the election of new governments in both India and Pakistan in the early 2010s, some steps have been taken to improve relations, in particular developing a consensus on the agreement of Non-Discriminatory Market Access on Reciprocal Basis (NDMARB) status for each other, which will liberalize trade. In November 2015, the new Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif agreed to the resumption of bilateral talks; the following month, Prime Minister Modi made a brief, unscheduled visit to Pakistan while en route to India, becoming the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Pakistan since 2004. Despite those efforts, relations between the countries have remained frigid, following repeated acts of cross-border terrorism. According to a 2017 BBC World Service poll, only 5% of Indians view Pakistan's influence positively, with 85% expressing a negative view, while 11% of Pakistanis view India's influence positively, with 62% expressing a negative view.
Seeds of conflict during independence
About half a million Muslims and Hindus were killed in communal riots following the partition of British India. Millions of Muslims living in India and Hindus and Sikhs living in Pakistan emigrated in one of the most colossal transfers of population in the modern era. Both countries accused each other of not providing adequate security to the minorities emigrating through their territory. This served to increase tensions between the newly-born countries.
According to the British plan for the partition of British India, all the 680 princely states were allowed to decide which of the two countries to join. With the exception of a few, most of the Muslim-majority princely-states acceded to Pakistan while most of the Hindu-majority princely states joined India. However, the decisions of some of the princely-states would shape the Pakistan-India relationship considerably in the years to come.
Main article: Annexation of Junagadh
Junagadh was a state on the south-western end of Gujarat, with the principalities of Manavadar, Mangrol and Babriawad. It was not contiguous to Pakistan and other states physically separated it from Pakistan. The state had an overwhelming Hindu population which constituted more than 80% of its citizens, while its ruler, NawabMahabat Khan, was a Muslim. Mahabat Khan acceded to Pakistan on 15 August 1947. Pakistan confirmed the acceptance of the accession on 15 September 1947.
India did not accept the accession as legitimate. The Indian point of view was that Junagadh was not contiguous to Pakistan, that the Hindu majority of Junagadh wanted it to be a part of India, and that the state was surrounded by Indian territory on three sides.
The Pakistani point of view was that since Junagadh had a ruler and governing body who chose to accede to Pakistan, it should be allowed to do so. Also, because Junagadh had a coastline, it could have maintained maritime links with Pakistan even as an enclave within India.
Neither of the states was able to resolve this issue amicably and it only added fuel to an already charged environment. Sardar Patel, India's Home Minister, felt that if Junagadh was permitted to go to Pakistan, it would create communal unrest across Gujarat. The government of India gave Pakistan time to void the accession and hold a plebiscite in Junagadh to pre-empt any violence in Gujarat. Samaldas Gandhi formed a government-in-exile, the Arzi Hukumat (in Urdu: Arzi: Transitional, Hukumat: Government) of the people of Junagadh. Patel ordered the annexation of Junagadh's three principalities.
India cut off supplies of fuel and coal to Junagadh, severed air and postal links, sent troops to the frontier, and occupied the principalities of Mangrol and Babariawad that had acceded to India. On 26 October, Nawab of Junagadh and his family fled to Pakistan following clashes with Indian troops. On 7 November, Junagadh's court, facing collapse, invited the Government of India to take over the State's administration. The Dewan of Junagadh, Sir Shah Nawaz Bhutto, the father of the more famous Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, decided to invite the Government of India to intervene and wrote a letter to Mr. Buch, the Regional Commissioner of Saurashtra in the Government of India to this effect. The Government of Pakistan protested. The Government of India rejected the protests of Pakistan and accepted the invitation of the Dewan to intervene. Indian troops occupied Junagadh on 9 November 1947. In February 1948, a plebiscite held almost unanimously voted for accession to India.
Main article: Kashmir conflict
Kashmir was a Muslim-majority princely state, ruled by a Hindu king, Maharaja Hari Singh. At the time of the partition of India, Maharaja Hari Singh, the ruler of the state, preferred to remain independent and did not want to join either the Union of India or the Dominion of Pakistan. He wanted both India and Pakistan to recognise his princely state as an independent neutral country.
Despite the standstill agreement with Pakistan, teams of Pakistani forces were dispatched into Kashmir in response to the Hindu Maharajah's attempted genocide of Muslims in the state. The Maharajah of Kashmir attempted to change the predominantly Muslim demographics of his state by engaging in an ethnic cleansing of Muslims from the Jammu section of his state, as his state forces massacred thousands of Muslims in Jammu and expelled thousands more from their homes in an effort to shift the population ratio in favour of Hindus. This precipitated a revolt by the Muslims in the Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir against the Hindu Maharajah. Backed by Pakistani paramilitary forces, PashtunMehsud tribals invaded Kashmir in October 1947 under the code name "Operation Gulmarg" to seize Kashmir. They reached and captured Baramulla on 25 October. Instead of moving on to Srinagar just 50 km away and capturing its undefended airfield, they stayed there for several days. Kashmir's security forces turned out to be too weak and ill-equipped to fight against Pakistan. Fearing that this invasion would bring about an accession to Pakistan, the Maharaja now turned to India and requested India for troops to safeguard Kashmir. Indian Prime Minister Nehru was ready to send the troops, but the acting Governor General of India, Lord Mountbatten of Burma, advised the Maharaja to accede to India before India could send its troops. Hence, considering the emergent situation he signed the instrument of accession to the Union of India on 26 October 1947 (see the two-page document's photo below).
Charles Chevenix Trench writes in his 'The Frontier Scouts' (1985):
In October 1947... tribal lashkars hastened in lorries - undoubtedly with official logistic support - into Kashmir... at least one British Officer, Harvey-Kelly took part in the campaign. It seemed that nothing could stop these hordes of tribesmen taking Srinagar with its vital airfield. Indeed nothing did, but their own greed. The Mahsuds in particular stopped to loot, rape and murder; Indian troops were flown in and the lashkars pushed out of the Vale of Kashmir into the mountains. The Mahsuds returned home in a savage mood, having muffed an easy chance, lost the loot of Srinagar and made fools of themselves.
In the words of General Mohammad Akbar Khan (Brigadier-in-Charge, Pakistan, in his book "War for Kashmir in 1947"): "The uncouth raiders delayed in Baramulla for two (whole) days for some unknown reason."
While the invading Pakistanis spread across the State and looted Baramulla town just 50 km from the state capital, Srinagar, for several days starting 25 October 1947, the Maharaja signed Instrument of Accession to the Dominion of India on 26 October 1947. Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah had already reached Delhi a day earlier on 25 October to persuade Nehru to send troops. He made no secret of the danger the State faced and asked Nehru to lose no time in accepting the accession and ensuring the speedy dispatch of Indian troops to the State. (Sheikh Abdullah corroborates this account in his Aatish-e-Chinaar (at pages 416 and 417) and records (at page 417) that V.P. Menon returned to Delhi on 26 October with signed Instrument of accession.) The Instrument was accepted by the Governor-General of India the next day, 27 October 1947. With this signing by the Maharaja and acceptance by the Governor-General, the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir became a part of Dominion of India as per the Indian Independence Act 1947 passed by the British parliament.
By this time the raiders were close to the capital, Srinagar Indian troops were airlifted from Delhi, landed at Srinagar airport in Kashmir on 27 October 1947 and secured the airport before proceeding to evict the invaders from Kashmir valley.
The Indian troops managed to evict the aggressors from parts of Kashmir but the onset of winter made much of the state impassable. 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. In 1957, north-western Kashmir was fully integrated into Pakistan, becoming Azad Kashmir (Pakistan-administered Kashmir). In 1962, China occupied Aksai Chin, the north-eastern region bordering Ladakh. In 1984, India launched Operation Meghdoot and captured more than 80% of the Siachen Glacier.
Pakistan now maintains Kashmiris' right to self-determination through a plebiscite and the promised plebiscite should be allowed to decide the fate of the Kashmiri people. India on the other hand asserts that with the Maharaja's signing the instrument of accession, Kashmir has become an integral part of India.
Due to all such political differences, this territorial claim has been the subject of wars between the two countries in 1947 and 1965, and a limited conflict in 1999. The state remains divided between the two countries by the Line of Control (LoC), which demarcates the ceasefire line agreed upon in the 1947 conflict modified in 1972 as per Simla Agreement.
Wars, conflicts and disputes
Main article: Indo-Pakistani wars and conflicts
Further information: Indo-Pakistani War of 1947, Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, Kargil War, Siachen conflict, and Insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir
India and Pakistan have fought in numerous armed conflicts since their independence. There are three major wars that have taken place between the two states, namely in 1947, 1965 and the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. In addition to this was the unofficial Kargil War and some border skirmishes.
War of 1965
Main article: Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
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The Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 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 five-week war caused thousands of casualties on both sides. Most of the battles were fought by opposing infantry and armoured units, with substantial backing from air forces, and naval operations. It ended in a United Nations (UN) mandated ceasefire and the subsequent issuance of the Tashkent Declaration.
War of 1971
Main articles: Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, Bangladesh Liberation War, and Indo-Pakistani Naval War of 1971
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Pakistan, since independence, was geo-politically divided into two major regions, West Pakistan and East Pakistan. East Pakistan was occupied mostly by Bengali people. In December 1971, following a political crisis in East Pakistan, the situation soon spiralled out of control in East Pakistan and India intervened in favour of the rebelling Bengali populace. The conflict, a brief but bloody war, resulted in the independence of East Pakistan. In the war, the Indian Army invaded East Pakistan from three sides, while the Indian Navy used the aircraft carrier INS Vikrant (R11) to impose a naval blockade of East Pakistan. The war saw the first offensive operations undertaken by the Indian Navy against an enemy port, when Karachi harbour was attacked twice during Operation Trident (1971) and Operation Python. These attacks destroyed a significant portion of Pakistan's naval strength, whereas no Indian ship was lost. The Indian Navy did, however, lose a single ship, when INS Khukri (F149) was torpedoed by a Pakistani submarine. 13 days after the invasion of East Pakistan, 90,000 Pakistani military personnel surrendered to the Indian Army and the Mukti Bahini. After the surrender of Pakistani forces, East Pakistan became the independent nation of Bangladesh.
Main article: Kargil War
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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. Backed by the Indian Air Force, the Indian Army regained some of the posts that Pakistan has occupied. Pakistan later withdrew from the remaining portion under international pressure.
Other territorial claims
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The relations are locked in other territorial claims such as the Siachen Glacier and Kori Creek.
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.
Bengal refugee crisis (1949)
Further information: East Bengali refugees
In 1949, India recorded close to 1 million Hindu refugees, who flooded into West Bengal and other states from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), owing to communal violence, intimidation and repression from authorities. The plight of the refugees outraged Hindus and Indian nationalists, and the refugee population drained the resources of Indian states, which were unable to absorb them. While not ruling out war, Prime Minister Nehru and Sardar Patel invited Liaquat Ali Khan for talks in Delhi. Although many Indians termed this appeasement, Nehru signed a pact with Liaquat Ali Khan that pledged both nations to the protection of minorities and creation of minority commissions. Khan and Nehru also signed a trade agreement, and committed to resolving bilateral conflicts through peaceful means. Steadily, hundreds of thousands of Hindus returned to East Pakistan, but the thaw in relations did not last long, primarily owing to the Kashmir conflict.
Further information: Afghanistan–India relations and Afghanistan–Pakistan relations
Afghanistan and Pakistan have had their own historic rivalry over their border, the Durand Line, which numerous Afghan governments have refused to recognize as the border. This has led to strong tensions between the two countries and even military confrontations, resulting in Pakistan as victorious. Pakistan has long accused Afghanistan of harboring Baloch separatist rebels and attempting to sponsor separatist tendencies amongst its Pashtun and Baloch populations, going as far back as the 1950s. It has been believed that Pakistan during the 1970s, then under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, in retaliation began supporting Islamist factions in Afghanistan. These factions proved rebellious for the Afghan government that was friendly to the Soviet Union and its South Asian ally, India.
The later Soviet intervention in Afghanistan to prevent further escalation and eventual Islamist takeover of the country proved disastrous afterwards. The United States and its allies feared direct Soviet involvement in Afghanistan and began aiding Pakistan's support for the Afghan Mujaheddin, in hopes of crippling the Soviet Union. The Soviet-Afghan war turned out to be a stalemate with heavy casualties on all sides and costly for the Soviets. Under international agreement, the Soviets withdrew. But various Afghan factions fought one another and their external supporters, including the Soviet Union, Iran, Pakistan and others disagreed on which should be in power.
Continued rival proxy support led to the civil war, in which Pakistan supported in the Taliban, seeking to secure its interests in Afghanistan and providing strategic support, while India and Afghanistan's other neighbors backed the Northern Alliance.
After the Taliban defeated the Northern Alliance in much of Afghanistan in the Afghan Civil War (1996-2001), the Taliban regime continued to be supported by Pakistan – one of the three countries to do so – before the 11 September attacks. India firmly opposed the Taliban and criticized Pakistan for supporting it. India established its links with the Northern Alliance as India officially recognized their government, with the United Nations. India's relations with Afghanistan, Pakistan's neighbor, and its increasing presence there has irked Pakistan.
The 2008 Indian embassy bombing in Kabul was a suicide bomb terror attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan on 7 July 2008 at 8:30 AM local time. US intelligence officials suggested that Pakistan's ISI intelligence agency had planned the attack. Pakistan tried to deny any responsibility, but United States PresidentGeorge W. Bush confronted Pakistani Prime MinisterYousuf Raza Gilani with evidence and warned him that in the case of another such attack he would have to take "serious action".
Pakistan has been accused by India, Afghanistan, the United States, and the United Kingdom, of involvement in terrorism in Kashmir and Afghanistan. In July 2009, former President of PakistanAsif Ali Zardari admitted that the Pakistani government had "created and nurtured" terrorist groups to achieve its short-term foreign policy goals. According to an analysis published by Saban Centre for Middle East Policy at Brookings Institution in 2008 Pakistan was the world's "most active" state sponsor of terrorism including aiding groups and Pakistan has long aided a range of terrorist groups fighting against India in Kashmir and is a major sponsor of Taliban forces fighting the U.S.-backed government in Afghanistan.
Insurgency in Kashmir (1989-present)
Main article: Insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir
According to some reports published by the Council of Foreign Relations, the Pakistan military and the ISI have provided covert support to terrorist groups active in Kashmir, including the al-Qaeda affiliate Jaish-e-Mohammed. Pakistan has denied any involvement in terrorist activities in Kashmir, arguing that it only provides political and moral support to the secessionist groups who wish to escape Indian rule. Many Kashmiri militant groups also maintain their headquarters in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, which is cited as further proof by the Indian government.
Author Gordon Thomas stated that Pakistan "still sponsored terrorist groups in the state of Kashmir, funding, training and arming them in their war on attrition against India." Journalist Stephen Suleyman Schwartz notes that several militant and criminal groups are "backed by senior officers in the Pakistani army, the country's ISI intelligence establishment and other armed bodies of the state."
List of some insurgent attacks
Insurgents attack on Jammu and Kashmir State Assembly: A car bomb exploded near the Jammu and Kashmir State Assembly on 1 October 2001, killing 27 people on an attack that was blamed on Kashmiri separatists. It was one of the most prominent attacks against India apart from on the Indian Parliament in December 2001. The dead bodies of the terrorists and the data recovered from them revealed that Pakistan was solely responsible for the activity.
- 1997 Sangrampora massacre: On 21 March 1997, 7 Kashmiri Pandits were killed in Sangrampora village in the Budgam district.
- Wandhama Massacre: In January 1998, 24 Kashmiri Pandits living in the city Wandhama were killed by nonsense Islamic terrorists.
- Qasim Nagar Attack: On 13 July 2003, armed men believed to be a part of the Lashkar-e-Toiba threw hand grenades at the Qasim Nagar market in Srinagar and then fired on civilians standing nearby killing twenty-seven and injuring many more.
- Assassination of Abdul Ghani Lone: Abdul Ghani Lone, a prominent All Party Hurriyat Conference leader, was assassinated by an unidentified gunmen during a memorial rally in Srinagar. The assassination resulted in wide-scale demonstrations against the Indian occupied-forces for failing to provide enough security cover for Mr. Lone.
- 20 July 2005 Srinagar Bombing: A car bomb exploded near an armoured Indian Army vehicle in the famous Church Lane area in Srinagar killing four Indian Army personnel, one civilian and the suicide bomber. Terrorist group Hizbul Mujahideen, claimed responsibility for the attack.
- Budshah Chowk attack: A terrorist attack on 29 July 2005 at Srinigar's city centre, Budshah Chowk, killed two and left more than 17 people injured. Most of those injured were media journalists.
- Murder of Ghulam Nabi Lone: On 18 October 2005, a suspected man killed Jammu and Kashmir's then education minister Ghulam Nabi Lone. No Terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attack.
- 2016 Uri attack: A terrorist attack by four heavily armed terrorists on 18 September 2016, near the town of Uri in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, killed 18 and left more than 20 people injured. It was reported as "the deadliest attack on security forces in Kashmir in two decades".
Insurgent activities elsewhere
The attack on the Indian Parliament was by far the most dramatic attack carried out allegedly by Pakistani terrorists. India blamed Pakistan for carrying out the attacks, an allegation which Pakistan strongly denied and one that brought both nations to the brink of a nuclear confrontation in 2001–02. However, international peace efforts ensured the cooling of tensions between the two nuclear-capable nations.
Apart from this, the most notable was the hijacking of Indian Airlines Flight IC 814 en route New Delhi from Kathmandu, Nepal. The plane was hijacked on 24 December 1999 approximately one hour after take off and was taken to Amritsar airport and then to Lahore in Pakistan. After refueling the plane took off for Dubai and then finally landed in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Under intense media pressure, New Delhi complied with the hijackers' demand and freed Maulana Masood Azhar from its captivity in return for the freedom of the Indian passengers on the flight. The decision, however, cost New Delhi dearly. Maulana, who is believed to be hiding in Karachi, later became the leader of Jaish-e-Mohammed, an organisation which has carried out several terrorist acts against Indian security forces in Kashmir.
On 22 December 2000, a group of terrorists belonging to the Lashkar-e-Toiba stormed the famous Red Fort in New Delhi. The Fort houses an Indian military unit and a high-security interrogation cell used both by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Indian Army. The terrorists successfully breached the security cover around the Red Fort and opened fire at the Indian military personnel on duty killing two of them on spot. The attack was significant because it was carried out just two days after the declaration of the cease-fire between India and Pakistan.
In 2002, India claimed again that terrorists from Jammu and Kashmir were infiltrating into India, a claim denied by Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, who claimed that such infiltration had stopped—India's spokesperson for the External Affairs Ministry did away with Pakistan's claim, calling it "terminological inexactitude." Only two months later, two Kashmiri terrorists belonging to Jaish-e-Mohammed raided the Swami Narayan temple complex in Ahmedabad, Gujarat killing 30 people, including 18 women and five children. The attack was carried out on 25 September 2002, just few days after state elections were held in Jammu and Kashmir. Two identical letters found on both the terrorists claimed that the attack was done in retaliation for the deaths of thousands of Muslims during the Gujarat riots.
Two car bombs exploded in south Mumbai on 25 August 2003; one near the Gateway of India and the other at the famous Zaveri Bazaar, killing at least 48 and injuring 150 people. Though no terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attacks, Mumbai Police and RAW suspected Lashkar-e-Toiba's hand in the twin blasts.
In an unsuccessful attempt, six terrorists belonging to Lashkar-e-Toiba, stormed the AyodhyaRam Janmbhomi complex on 5 July 2005. Before the terrorists could reach the main disputed site, they were shot down by Indian security forces. One Hindu worshipper and two policemen were injured during the incident.
The Indian intelligence agency RAW is claimed to be working in cover to malign Pakistan and train & support insurgents for Balochistan conflict.
2001 Indian Parliament attack
Main article: 2001 Indian Parliament attack
The 2001 Indian Parliament attack was an attack at the Parliament of India in New Delhi on 13 December 2001, during which fourteen people, including the five men who attacked the building, were killed. The perpetrators were Lashkar-e-Taiba (Let) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorists. The attack led to the deaths of five terrorists, six Delhi Police personnel, two Parliament Security Service personnel and a gardener, in total 14 and to increased tensions between India and Pakistan, resulting in the 2001–02 India–Pakistan standoff.
2001–02 India–Pakistan standoff
Main article: 2001–2002 India–Pakistan standoff
The 2001–2002 India–Pakistan standoff was a military standoff between India and Pakistan that resulted in the massing of troops on either side of the border and along the Line of Control (LoC) in the region of Kashmir. This was the first major military standoff between India and Pakistan since the Kargil War in 1999. The military buildup was initiated by India responding to a 2001 Indian Parliament attack and the 2001 Jammu and Kashmir legislative assembly attack. India claimed that the attacks were carried out by two Pakistan-based terror groups fighting Indian administeredKashmir, the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad, both of whom India has said are backed by Pakistan's ISI a charge that Pakistan denied. Tensions de-escalated following international diplomatic mediation which resulted in the October 2002 withdrawal of Indian and Pakistani troops from the international border.
2007 Samjhauta Express bombings
Main article: 2007 Samjhauta Express bombings
The 2007 Samjhauta Express bombings was a terrorist attack targeted on the Samjhauta Express train on 18 February. The Samjhauta Express is an international train that runs from New Delhi, India to Lahore, Pakistan, and is one of two trains to cross the India-Pakistan border. At least 68 people were killed, mostly Pakistani civilians but also some Indian security personnel and civilians.
2008 Mumbai attacks
Main article: 2008 Mumbai attacks
The 2008 Mumbai attacks by ten Pakistani terrorists killed over 173 and wounded 308. The sole surviving gunman Ajmal Kasab who was arrested during the attacks was found to be a Pakistani national. This fact was acknowledged by Pakistani authorities. In May 2010, an Indian court convicted him on four counts of murder, waging war against India, conspiracy and terrorism offences, and sentenced him to death.
India blamed the Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan-based militant group, for planning and executing the attacks. Islamabad resisted the claims and demanded evidence. India provided evidence in the form of interrogations, weapons, candy wrappers, Pakistani Brand Milk Packets, and telephone sets. Indian officials demanded Pakistan extradite suspects for trial. They also said that, given the sophistication of the attacks, the perpetrators "must have had the support of some official agencies in Pakistan".
Weapons of mass destruction
See also: India and weapons of mass destruction, Pakistan and weapons of mass destruction, and nuclear race
India has a long history of development of nuclear weapons. Origins of India's nuclear program dates back to 1944, when started its nuclear program soon after its independence. In the 1940s–1960s, India's nuclear program slowly matured towards militarisation and expanded the nuclear power infrastructure throughout the country. Decisions on the development of nuclear weapons were made by Indian political leaders after the Chinese invasion and territorial annexation of northern India. In 1967, India's nuclear program was aimed at the development of nuclear weapons, with Indira Gandhi carefully overseeing the development of weapons. In 1971, India gained military and political momentum over Pakistan, after a successful military campaign against Pakistan. Starting preparations for a nuclear test in 1972, India finally exploded its first nuclear bomb in Pokhran test range, codename Smiling Buddha, in 1974. During the 1980s–90s, India began development of space and nuclear rockets, which marked Pakistan's efforts to engage in the space race with India. Pakistan's own program developed space and nuclear missiles and began unmanned flight tests of its space vehicles in the mid-1990s, which continues in the present.
After the defeat in the Indo-Pakistani war of 1971, Pakistan launched its own nuclear bomb program in 1972, and accelerated its efforts in 1974, after India exploded its first nuclear bomb in Pokhran test range, codename Smiling Buddha. This large-scale nuclear bomb program was directly in response to India's nuclear program. In 1983, Pakistan achieved a major milestone in its efforts after it covertly performed a series of non-fission tests, codename Kirana-I. No official announcements of such cold tests were made by Pakistan government. Over the next several years, Pakistan expanded and modernized nuclear power projects around the country to supply its electricity sector and to provide back-up support and benefit to its national economy. In 1988, a mutual understanding was reached between the two countries in which each pledged not to attack nuclear facilities. Agreements on cultural exchanges and civil aviation were also initiated, also in 1988. Finally, in 1998, India exploded its second nuclear test (see: Pokhran-II) which invited Pakistan to follow the latter's step and performed its own atomic tests (see:Chagai-I and Chagai-II).
Talks and other confidence building measures
After the 1971 war, Pakistan and India made slow progress towards the normalisation of relations. In July 1972, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Pakistani President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto met in the Indian hill station of Simla. They signed the Simla Agreement, by which India would return all Pakistani personnel (over 90,000) and captured territory in the west, and the two countries would "settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations." Diplomatic and trade relations were also re-established in 1976.
In 1997, high-level Indo-Pakistan talks resumed after a three-year pause. The Prime Ministers of Pakistan and India met twice and the foreign secretaries conducted three rounds of talks. In June 1997, the foreign secretaries identified eight "outstanding issues" around which continuing talks would be focused. The conflict over the status of Kashmir, (referred by India as Jammu and Kashmir), an issue since Independence, remains the major stumbling block in their dialogue. India maintains that the entire former princely state is an integral part of the Indian union, while Pakistan insists that UN resolutions calling for self-determination of the people of the state/province must be taken into account. It however refuses to abide by the previous part of the resolution, which calls for it to vacate all territories occupied.
In September 1997, the talks broke down over the structure of how to deal with the issues of Kashmir, and peace and security. Pakistan advocated that the issues be treated by separate working groups. India responded that the two issues be taken up along with six others on a simultaneous basis.
Attempts to restart dialogue between the two nations were given a major boost by the February 1999 meeting of both Prime Ministers in Lahore and their signing of three agreements.
A subsequent military coup in Pakistan that overturned the democratically elected Nawaz Sharif government in October of the same year also proved a setback to relations.
In 2001, a summit was called in Agra; Pakistani PresidentPervez Musharraf turned up to meet Indian Prime MinisterAtal Behari Vajpayee. The talks fell through.
On 20 June 2004, with a new government in place in India, both countries agreed to extend a nuclear testing ban and to set up a hotline between their foreign secretaries aimed at preventing misunderstandings that might lead to a nuclear war.
Baglihar Dam issue was a new issue raised by Pakistan in 2005.
After Dr. Manmohan Singh become prime minister of India in May 2004, the Punjab provincial Government declared it would develop Gah, his place of birth, as a model village in his honour and name a school after him. There is also a village in India named Pakistan, despite occasional pressure over the years to change its name the villagers have resisted. Violent activities in the region declined in 2004. There are two main reasons for this: warming of relations between New Delhi and Islamabad which consequently lead to a ceasefire between the two countries in 2003 and the fencing of the LOC being carried out by the Indian Army. Moreover, coming under intense international pressure, Islamabad was compelled to take actions against the militants' training camps on its territory. In 2004, the two countries also agreed upon decreasing the number of troops present in the region.
Under pressure, Kashmiri militant organisations made an offer for talks and negotiations with New Delhi, which India welcomed.
India's Border Security Force blamed the Pakistani military for providing cover-fire for the terrorists whenever they infiltrated into Indian territory from Pakistan. Pakistan in turn has also blamed India for providing support to terrorist organisations operating in Pakistan such as the BLA.
In 2005, Pakistan's information minister, Sheikh Rashid, was alleged to have run a terrorist training camp in 1990 in N.W. Frontier, Pakistan. The Pakistani government dismissed the charges against its minister as an attempt to hamper the ongoing peace process between the two neighbours.
Both India and Pakistan have launched several mutual confidence-building measures (CBMs) to ease tensions between the two. These include more high-level talks, easing visa restrictions, and restarting of cricket matches between the two. The new bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad has also helped bring the two sides closer. Pakistan and India have also decided to co-operate on economic fronts.
Some improvements in the relations are seen with the re-opening of a series of transportation networks near the India–Pakistan border, with the most important being bus routes and railway lines.
A major clash between Indian security forces and militants occurred when a group of insurgents tried to infiltrate into Kashmir from Pakistan in July 2005. The same month also saw a Kashmiri militant attack on Ayodhya and Srinagar. However, these developments had little impact on the peace process.
An Indian man held in Pakistani prisons since 1975 as an accused spy walked across the border to freedom 3 March 2008, an unconditional release that Pakistan said was done to improve relations between the two countries.
In 2006, a "Friends Without Borders" scheme began with the help of two British tourists. The idea was that Indian and Pakistani children would make pen pals and write friendly letters to each other. The idea was so successful in both countries that the organisation found it "impossible to keep up". The World's Largest Love Letter was recently sent from India to Pakistan.
In December 2010, several Pakistani newspapers published stories about India's leadership and relationship with militants in Pakistan that the papers claimed were found in the United States diplomatic cables leak. A British newspaper, The Guardian, which had the Wikileaks cables in its possession reviewed the cables and concluded that the Pakistani claims were "not accurate" and that "WikiLeaks [was] being exploited for propaganda purposes."
On 10 February 2011, India agreed to resume talks with Pakistan which were suspended after 26/11 Mumbai Attacks. India had put on hold all the diplomatic relations saying it will only continue if Pakistan will act against the accused of Mumbai attacks.
On 13 April 2012 following a thaw in relations whereby India gained MFN status in the country, India announced the removal of restrictions on FDI investment from Pakistan to India.