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India Pakistan Relations since 1947: Geopolitics at Play



Pakistan and India gained independence jointly from British Raj in 1947. Upon independence both countries pursued the policy of nonalignment as both were preoccupied with disputes inter se over Kashmir, water rights and division of resources.

Forming Alliances:

The partition of British India resulted in the greatest migration of recent history as Millions crossed border on both sides; in fact, over 10 million people died or went missing as a result of communal related violence. The bloody partition ensured that relations between the two countries became fraught. India’s sheer big size, its aggressive policy towards Pakistan and economic, political and military support it received from Soviet Union drew Pakistan into a military partnership with Washington first in 1955 short-lived Central Treaty Organization (CENTO), which also included Turkey, Iraq, and Iran, and later through bilateral arrangements. Also in 1955 Pakistan joined the now-defunct SEATO, which together with its involvement with CENTO reflected both westward and eastward strategic pulls. Hence, in early 50s both countries formed military alliances to maintain balance of power in the region.

China and Indo-Pak relations:

In 1962 war broke out between India and China over the disputed Himalayan border. Instead of backing Beijing, its ideological ally, Moscow remained neutral when the war broke out. This led to the Sino-Soviet schism. Beijing’s rapid response to the Soviet-Indian alliance was to settle its outstanding disputes with Pakistan over their common border in northern Kashmir in 1963. At that time, Pakistan ceded to China 2,050 square miles of the northern Azad Kashmir territory. Beijing, thus, turned into Pakistan’s diplomatic and military partner, which only grew with time. The two nations agreed to construct the Karakoram Peace Highway—a 750-mile, all-weather road over the Karakoram Range from Rawalpindi, Pakistan, to Kashi (Kashgar) in Xinjiang that crossed the mountains at the 15,420-feet Khunjerab Pass. (It was completed in 1978.) Presently the $62 Billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor is underway despite severe opposition of both US and India.

Wars of 1965 and 1971 and Nuclear Programs

The second war between India and Pakistan was over Kashmir. It occurred in 1965 and made the United States and Britain force a ban on the sale of arms on both India and Pakistan. This further fortified the bonds that India and Pakistan had, individually, with the USSR and China respectively. In 1971 India supported and fanned separatist movement in East Pakistan (which was separated from the western portion of Pakistan by eleven hundred miles). China supported Pakistan, while Moscow sponsored India. Washington despite in military alliance with Pakistan did not provide any support and remained “neutral”. India turned to Moscow for new and major infusions of weapons, as part of a 1973 aid agreement that Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had forged with Moscow. New Delhi the following year exploded an underground nuclear test device in the Thar Desert. This prompted Pakistan to start its own nuclear program. Though both countries openly detonated nuclear bombs in May 1998, however, nuclear capability was achieved during the 70s.

Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan and Geopolitics at Play:

At the point when the Soviet Union attacked Afghanistan in 1979 to prop up its Marxist government ally in Kabul against Talibans, Washington called upon Islamabad to help thwart the Russian move. Pakistan turned into the primary arms conduit from the United States and gave the Afghan mujahideen and volunteers from other Islamic nations with major training and supply bases. Additionally, since this period, it has received well more than three million Afghan refugees. Saudi Arabia, which was additionally enrolled in the “jihad” in Afghanistan, gave significant budgetary help to the “mujahideens”. The size of US military and financial support to Pakistan amid the 1980s—$600 million for every annum—made Pakistan the third-biggest beneficiary of US help, after Israel and Egypt. However, the sudden pullout of Soviet troops from Afghanistan in 1989 and US suspension the next year of all military and monetary support to Pakistan due to its atomic weapons program seemed to set the scene for a radical restructuring of alliances in South Asia. India had turned out to be significantly more alluring to Washington as a potential partner primarily due to the size and significance of its potential market (from 2002 to 2011, India’s economy developed by more than 7 percent for each annum, just to drop to 4.4 percent the next year).

The union of US and Indian interests additionally identified with the crumbling of ties amongst Washington and Islamabad, until the point when the exigencies of the US war in Afghanistan re-established these relations. The crumple of the Soviet Union had undermined the key basis for the US-Pakistani military union of the 1980s. Tensions then increased between the two countries because of Pakistan’s role in supporting the Taliban and because of its 1998 testing of nuclear weapons. After the attack on Afghanistan in 2001 by the United States and its partners, the alliance between the United States and Pakistan resumed.

Kashmir Issue and Border question:

The territorial dispute between India and Pakistan over the status of Kashmir has caused three wars, as well as has brought the two countries into the perilous atomic showdown that threatened to destabilize the whole region. At the time of the partition of India, Kashmir was ruled by a Hindu ruler who, despite the region’s mostly Muslim population, placed Kashmir under India. A Muslim uprising expelled the prince; however he was reinstalled by Indian troops by the use of brutal force. Jinnah ordered the military to intervene in Kashmir but acting British Commander in Chief General Gracey refused to follow his orders. Some tribesmen on the request of Jinnah entered Kashmir and captured some area presently known as Azad Kashmir.

The present cease fire has been kept up since 2004 despite petty skirmishes over LOC. The line divides the region in two—the lightly populated, northern and western portion in Pakistan known as Azad Kashmir, and the southern and more populous region, the Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir. The latter contains the heavily Muslim-populated Vale of Kashmir, including Srinagar, capital of the state. The Vale of Kashmir is the most populous part of the region and its economic heart.

The passionate and ideological pull of Kashmir on both Indians and Pakistanis has been the major hindrance to mediation of the dispute. Throughout the years the vital issue has escalated. Moreover, the waters of the Indus River basin are likewise an important issue in the Kashmir conflict. The Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab Rivers flow through the state of Jammu and Kashmir before entering Pakistan. They are crucial to agriculture in Pakistan’s Punjab and Sind. The 1960 Indus Water Basin Treaty did not accommodate incorporated water advancement but rather for each country to develop and manage its own water resources. Construction of upstream dams for power and irrigation by India remains a point of contention for its potential impact on downstream Pakistani users.

The monetary cost of the Kashmir struggle has been gigantic. For instance, the Kargil war caused a 28 percent expansion in India’s 1999 military budget, or as such, more than one-fifth of GDP. India now burns through $48 billion for every annum on defence, while Pakistan’s consumptions are $7 billion. Proportionately, this speaks to 2.5 percent of India’s GDP and 2.7 percent of Pakistan’s.

Sir Creek Issue:

Sir Creek—the stream that separates India and Pakistan at the south-western edge of the Rann of Kutch, is another territorial dispute between India and Pakistan. India asserts that the limit is mid-channel of the river where it enters the Arabian Sea, just beneath the mouths of the Indus; Pakistan claims the right bank, stream exit in its entirety. The exact area of the limit here is essential in settling its maritime extension. What is at stake for Pakistan is that its claim would allow the offshore expansion of its Exclusive Economic Zone to incorporate another 250 square miles of water whose seabed holds guarantee of oil and gas reserves.

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