India is the closest neighbor of Pakistan sharing a common border of over 2000 Kms from Arabian Sea to the mountains of Kashmir. But their relations have been tense and strained right from the time of partition. Since partition, the main thorn between the good relations has been the Kashmir issue. Kashmir has been the main bone of contention between the two over which the two sides had fought various wars. In 1948, there was a war because of the forceful accession of Hindu Maharaja to India. UNO ordered a cease-fire, promising to hold plebiscite, but over till now, no such plebiscite has been organised. In addition, in 1965, there was another war on the same issue, resulting from the Pakistani tries to free Kashmir by force as after the Indo-China war, the Pakistan army had believed that these events showed that Indians had ‘no stomach’ for a fight. Thus, began to think in terms of military solution to the Kashmir dispute. The Indians, however, dropped their objections to western military aid and began a vigorous rearmament campaign after the humiliating defeat they suffered at the hands of Chinese. The stage was now set for a military showdown between India and Pakistan. The two sides also went to a war in 1971 over Bangladesh-East-Pakistan Crisis. India had the golden chance to cut down it rivals. They availed the opportunity and separated the two wings of its enemy. India also had grievances over Pakistan’s involvement in Defence Pact with USA, but USA confirmed India that this was only against any communist aggression. Pakistan was shocked when India tested its nuclear device in Rajasthan in 1974. As Pakistan’s relations with India further deteriorated, both countries stepped up their nuclear development programmes. In May 1998, India shocked the world by testing five nuclear devices. Just a few weeks later, Pakistan detonated its own nuclear devices in Ras Koh hills. This initiated the nuclear arms race between the two states which continues to this date. In early 1980s, India accused Pakistan in helping separatist elements of Sikhs who were demanding a separate homeland, Khalistan, for Sikhs. Pakistan rejected this allegation. Later on, the aftermath of the assassination of Indira Gandhi had adverse effects on relations with India. Rajiv, son of Indira Gandhi, again accused Pakistan for his mother’s killing. Both sides were almost on a brink of an undeclared war. India started ‘exercises’ near borders of Pakistan, but it was a great master stroke of Zia which saved the two countries from war. The Kargil conflict in 1999, further pumped up the Indo-Pak hostility. In April 1999, Muslims Kashmiri guerrillas crossed the Line of Control and captured the Indian occupied towns of Kargil and Drass. The Pak govt., however, denied any involvement. In May 1999, India launched a counter-attack during which it fired over 250,000 shells and rockets. Two of its aircrafts also crossed into Pakistan air space and one was shot down. The Kargil conflict was a major blow to Pakistan-India relations.
Other problems like division of assets and Canal Water Dispute also contributed to the poor relations b/w the two.
On the contrary, there were also some successes in the relations. In April 1950, there was a formal agreement, called the ‘Minorities Agreement’, signed between Liaqat Ali Khan and Nehru. According to the agreement, both governments were responsible to protect the religious minorities in their states and to encourage them to stay on rather than to migrate. Moreover, another agreement had also been reached in December 1948 which allowed for a neutral tribunal to demarcate the exact borders between East Bengal and Assam. The Tashkent agreement of 1966 after 1965 war helped the two states to agree to resolve disputes peacefully. The Simla Agreement was also a major step in developing good ties between the two states. India agreed to free 90,000 war prisoners of Pakistan and Pakistan agreed to talk over Kashmir issue bilaterally and not going to the world community. The Indus water treaty, 1960, also helped in establishment of good relations. Besides that the public of both countries has a keen desire of good relations. (CBMs)There have been strong cultural relations between the two countries.
Cricket and hockey matches are played. Singers and artists exchange visits. Pilgrims of one country visit sacred places in the other country. Divided families are eager to visit their relatives.
Pakistan has always expressed her intentions to have friendly relations with India and wants to solve all problems through peaceful negotiations. It is clear that without solving the Kashmir problem all efforts are fruitless.