India Pakistan bilateral peace process


This article was written by Digvijay kumar a student of National Law University Delhi.

At the time of partition the princely states had to choose between India and Pakistan. So the state of Kashmir chose to remain independent. The majority of the population of the Kashmir was Muslim and the ruler was Hindu. So the ruler expressed it willingness to remain independent. Then there was a rumor that the maharaja was going to decide for union of India. This rumor was followed by a tribal invasion of Kashmir which began on 22 October 1947. So the Indian troops intervened to repel the invaders. In return Pakistan felt obliged to protect its Muslim neighbor from the Indian invasion. And the maharaja appealed to India for help when Srinagar was threatened. So V.P Menon fled to Kashmir to study the situation. He found that the maharaja was in unnerved state and was collecting the valuable to flee to Jammu. The government of India decided that the Indian troops would be send only if the maharaja signs the instrument of accession. So Menon fled to Jammu and got the sing of the maharaja. Now the Pakistan was of the view that the maharaja had no right to sign the instrument of accession. It’s because the majority of the population was Muslim and only the people had the right to decide. So the Pakistan declared the instrument of accession as fraudulent.

So the roots of conflict between the two nations regarding the Kashmir issue dates back to the time during which the partition happened. The Britisher’s left the Kashmir issue unresolved. The Kashmir is mostly occupied by the Muslim’s community and they simply hate the ruling from Delhi.  And Delhi is compelling the people of Kashmir to abide by its rule which is creating a situation of unrest. Delhi has decleared Kashmir as the integral part of India whereas the Pakistan claims it to be an unresolved issue. In fact Pakistan is seeking for the decision of united nation pertaining to this issue. So Kashmir has continued to be the source of hostile relation between India and Pakistan.

India has continuously accused Pakistan of allowing the militants to grow on its land. India has accused that these militants that Pakistan allows to grow on its land threatens the Indian Army and the civilians. India has deployed thousands of troops along the border line and threatened Pakistan of war if the Pakistan does not stop infiltration. The Pakistan discourages any sort of infiltrations and the use of its land by the infiltrators. Pakistan always wanted the Kashmir issue to be on the top priority whereas India always objected it to remain as prime issue. In fact India refused any kind of talk to resolve the Kashmir issue.

The Siachen glacier is the longest glacier in non-polar region. The geographical location of this area is very tough to reach. Throughout the year it is covered with dense ice. The saltoro range guards the glacier from the west and can be reached from the khapalu (Pakistan). The only other way is along the river Nubra which ascends from south to north-west in Ladakh.

Now the conflict between the two countries over the Siachen glacier finds its roots from the Kashmir conflict between the two nations. So after the developments relating to the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan, the two countries signed Karachi agreement (also known as ceasefire agreement) establishing a ceasefire line between the two countries. By this time India had gained control over two-third part of Kashmir. This ceasefire line was actually the position of the military forces at that time. Near Chenab in Jammu this line starts and then it heads north-eastward to a point which is which is located 12 km north of Shyok river. Beyond this point the area was not demarcated as the area was physically inaccessible. So, the Siachen conflict is over this un-demarcated territory of Kashmir where no troops from the two countries were present at the time of ceasefire agreement[1]. The Pakistan had problems with the decision of India about the establishment of the permanent military base.


The dispute regarding the wullar barrage dates back to the time when India decided to build a barrage on the river Jhelum. The Pakistan had the apprehension that India would store water in contravention of the Indus water Treaty (1960). The India was of the view that the barrage was only for generating Hydal electricity and the flow of water would not be hindered. So the dialogue between the two nations occurred from 1987 to 1992. Finally eight round of talks resulted in an agreement which allowed India to build the barrage on certain conditions like there was limitation on the amount of water to be stored and released.

The dispute over the sir creek estuary which is 38 km long dates back to the time when the Rann of Kutch tribunal demarcated the boundary between India’s Gujarat state and Sindh. The boundary between the two countries has become fluid due to the change in tidal pattern. So the failure on part of both the nation to arrive at an agreement prevented them from demarcating their maritime boundary. This demarcation is very important with respect to the exploitation of the economic resources.

Experts from both the nations have suggested their nation to use the resources for economic development instead of taking a rigid stance on the outstanding issue. So this dispute over the boundary is also one of the main factor which contributes to the hostile relations between India and Pakistan.

The detonation of an Indian nuclear device in 1974 changed the balance of power in south Asia. Although India assured Pakistan that the nuclear explosion was entirely friendly, the Pakistan was very doubtful about the intention of India. In fact India developed nuclear device to gain respect and fame in the international community. The Pakistan on the other hand was compelled by the military and the political parties to develop nuclear weapons to gain prestige. Pakistan considered it as the most suitable method to tackle weapon superiority. Also the Pakistan felt that without the possession of nuclear weapon it could be blackmailed by India. Finally, in May 1998 both the countries conducted nuclear test. This test has transformed the outlook of South Asia and in fact it has become the disaster zone. So there is a kind of insecurity between the two nations with respect to the threat emanating from the possession of the nuclear weapons.

A fresh attempt was made after the 1971 war to restore peace between the two nations and to enhance the relation between the two nations. Under the agreement the two countries agreed to enhance the communication between the two countries. So postal, telegraphic, sea, land, including border posts, and air link were agreed to be resumed. There was a mutual consent of both the nation to enhance the trade between the two nations and the exchange of culture was to be promoted.

Now with respect to main seeds of conflict it was agreed that the both the nations will withdraw forces from the international border. In fact both the countries agreed that, “ In Jammu and Kashmir, the line of control resulting from the ceasefire of December 17, 1971, shall be respected by both sides without prejudice to the recognized position of either side. Neither side shall seek to alter it unilaterally, irrespective of mutual differences and legal interpretations. Both sides further undertake to refrain from the threat or the use of force in violation of this line.[2]” so this measure makes an attempt to eliminate all the disputes primarily the Kashmir and the border disputes like Siachen dispute.

This agreement was primarily made to solve the Kashmir and the  Shimla issue. This agreement happened just after the 1971 war. At that time there was a kind of hostile environment because of the Bangladesh issue on the international border especially in Kashmir. The decision of withdrawing the forces from the border and respecting the ceasefire line was very suitable with respect to the time and circumstances. This decision was very essential to bring down the heat on the border. Although this agreement dealt primary with the Kashmir and the Siachen issue, it was a good attempt to establish peace between the two nations. It’s because the main reason of conflict between India and Pakistan is the Kashmir and the Siachen issue. So this step was a very important attempt to eliminate the seeds of conflict between the two nations.

However this measure lost its strength when the two countries interpreted the clause relating to the Kashmir issue differently. The Pakistan was of the view that the Kashmir dispute still existed whereas India asserted it as its integral part. India claimed that the agreement eliminated all previous agreement and the UN resolution but the Pakistan were of the view that the UN resolution was never altered through the agreement. Indian interpretation of the document of the agreement was that the Kashmir issue could be solved at the bilateral level and it can’t be raised to the international forum. The Pakistan were of the opposite view i.e. the agreement does not prohibit the Kashmir issue to be raised on an international forum. Whereas the Indian interpretation was that the mere mention of the Kashmir issue to be raised on an international forum itself violated the Shimla agreement.

Although the Shimla agreement was a very good attempt to establish peace between the nations, it failed to serve the desired purpose. The main drawback was regarding the misinterpretation of the provisions of the agreement. So the delegates from the two nations should have clarified everything at the time of the agreement itself. And all the provisions should have been made and explained properly. If this was done the Shimla agreement would definitely have served the desired purpose.

With reference to the heat between India and Pakistan, it’s apparent that if war broke out between the two nations then there would definitely be a nuclear exchange. This would lead to a great loss to both human and its resources. So to avoid such situation the two countries took a series of step to enhance the spirit of confidence and security building measures. Hotlinks were established to facilitate a more effective communication. The lack of communication creates a lot of confusion and most of the time this confusion ends with an accident. Now as the two countries are blessed with nuclear weapons, it’s reasonable to anticipate some sort of accident. So with the view of above objective hotlink were established which could facilitate instantaneous communication so as to avoid any chance of confusion which could lead to accident. Moreover communication link between the two nations were established after the nuclear tests in 1998 to prevent any kind of accident.

Lack of communication creates confusion and at times the apprehension of attack. Talking with reference to India and Pakistan, if war broke out the then definitely there would be a nuclear exchange which would definitely be disastrous. Based on these reasoning the hot links were established to provide effective communication to prevent any kind of conflict. Although this measure was successful in preventing the nuclear exchange till now between the two countries, when it came to the prevention of war this measure failed severely. As in the hotlinks were established on 1980 and despite having established the hotlink and having instantaneous communication the two countries could not prevent the Kargil war. So it would be wrong to say that this measure was successful.

In April 1991, India and Pakistan signed the Agreement on Prevention of Airspace Violation.  According to this agreement neither of the two countries could fly armed, fixed-wing aircraft within ten nautical miles of the international border. The armed rotatory was prevented from flying within the area covering one nautical miles from the international border and other aircraft could not fly within one kilometer of the border. In case if any of the country wish to have any air exercise then  prior notice has to be given to the other country. And in special circumstances the aircraft can be flown within one kilometer of the border. And the military aircraft can also fly but only after a prior notification.

This measure was taken to avoid any kind of accident or the dispute between the two countries. As in they could accuse each other of spying in case any air craft would cross the international border. So this was an effective deterrence to the any kind misunderstanding between the two countries.

Although this measure was an effective deterrence to the misunderstanding arising out of crossing of the international border by aircraft of any of the two countries, this measure lost its strength when the Pakistani naval craft was shot by an Indian MIG-21 on August 10, 1999. India accused Pakistan of spying in the Indian territory whereas the argument of the Pakistan was that the aircraft was unarmed and was on a routine training mission. So after this incident this agreement seems to lose its strength.

The mere fact that the aircraft entered the Indian territory and violated the provisions of the agreement does not justify its shooting. At first the Indian forces should have examined the circumstances properly and then any action should have been taken. The Indian forces should have anticipated that the shooting of the aircraft would restore the hostile environment. On the other hand the Pakistan should have respected the provisions of the agreement. So in a way it looks as if the two countries don’t trust each other. So because of the lack of trust, small instances like this, pays hindrance to the establishment of peace between the two nations. Although the provision of the agreement was very apt in maintaining peace but it failed because of the dearth of the trust between the two nations.

 With intent to establish and maintain the environment of peace between the two nations the Lahore declaration was signed. This declaration was aimed at resolving the entire dispute including the Kashmir issue. Both the countries inaugurated the Delhi-Lahore bus service. Also it was decided that the there would be a periodical meeting to discuss all the issues relating to mutual concern including the nuclear issues. The following principles were set out in the agreement:


  • Commitment to the principles and purposes of the UN Charter and the universally accepted principles of peaceful coexistence, and determination of both countries to implement the Shimla agreement in letter and spirit
  • Creation of an environment of peace and security and resolution of all outstanding issues, including Jammu and Kashmir
  • Commitment to the objection of universal nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation
  • Immediate steps for reducing the risk of accidental or unauthorized use of nuclear weapons and discussion of concepts and doctrines with a view to elaborating measures for confidence building in the nuclear and conventional fields, aimed at prevention of conflict”

Both the sides agreed to engage in bilateral consultation on security concepts and nuclear doctrines. The prior notification of the ballistic-missile flight tests was agreed to be made. Both the sides agreed to take adequate steps to avoid any kind of the accident arising out of the nuclear weapons. And an establishment of the appropriate communication mechanism for this purpose was proposed.

This was a fresh attempt to solve all the problems between India and Pakistan. Now that it’s very true that the main seed of the conflict between the two nations is the Kashmir issue followed by the Siachen issue. So this declaration primarily made an attempt to solve the Kashmir issue and the Siachen issue. An attempt was made by bus service to establish the environment of trust. The steps which were taken to prevent any kind of nuclear accident were very apt with respect to the circumstances and the time. It is because both the countries possessed the nuclear weapon at the time when the declaration was signed. And as the two countries have the hostile relation, the south Asian region became the danger zone with respect to the nuclear accidents. So it was very essential to take steps to prevent any kind of accident.

But the all the efforts to establish peace were vitiated by the Kargil war. The war killed thousands of people and the hostile relation between the two countries was restored after the war. And after the conflict the Lahore declaration was stalled. In that sense this declaration failed severely.

There have been a number of measures which were taken to establish peace between India and Pakistan. However most of them failed to resolve the major issues like the Kashmir dispute and the Siachen dispute. However the two countries agreed to launch the composite dialogue in 2004. India proposed 12 confidence building measures out of which three were amended by Pakistan and Pakistan added two more such measure and finally it was accepted by Pakistan. The measure included the resumption of talks to restore civil aviation links, increasing the frequency of buses in Delhi-Lahore route, resumption of rail and sporting ties etc.

The fourth round of talk made several developments in the confidence building measures like:

“1. Completion of the survey of sir creek and adjoining areas

  1. Signing of a MoU to increase the frequencies, designated airlines and points of call in either country.
  2. Signing of the agreement on reducing the risk from the accidents relating to Nuclear Weapons
  3. Two meetings of the Joint terrorism Mechanism”

And on the Kashmir issue, the two parties simply agreed to continue the discussion. The fifth round of composite dialogue focused on the cross-LoC movement of people and the expansion of trade between the two countries.

This measure made an attempt to solve the disputes between the two countries. Not only the major issues like Kashmir and Siachen issue was considered to be solved but also the issues like sir creek and the  people to people contact was promoted to establish peace. Again there was no problem with the provisions as such but still this measure lost its strength after the Mumbai attack.

India has been accusing Pakistan of supporting cross border terrorism. In fact India was alarmed by several terrorist attacks and every time Pakistan was blamed. Mumbai train bomb blast was one such incident which vitiated all the efforts taken to establish peace through the composite dialogue. 200 people were killed in the attack. This was followed by an attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul. Again Pakistan was blamed. So this blame game was the main cause of the failure of the composite dialogue to establish peace.

So whatever the measures which has been taken so far to establish peace between the two nations were enough for the desired purpose on the condition that both the sides should follow its provisions properly. But most of the measures failed to yield the desired result as a result still the two nations are in conflict with each other. To establish peace the two countries must trust each other. And the trust can only be developed by the certain peace measure which could eliminate all the seeds of conflict. And to implement these measures the two nations must trust each other. So there is sort of a vicious cycle. And the status is still the same despite making several efforts.

It can be seen from the above mentioned measures (which aims at establishing peace between the two nations) that almost all the major was either vitiated by some incursion or the terrorist attacks. There is lack of trust between the two nations to such an extent that whenever there is any terrorist activity, the two countries starts blaming each other. If this continues it would be wrong to say that there is possibility of establishing peace between the two nations. So what is required is that the countries should stop blaming each other and should join hand to handle such circumstances. The two countries must take steps to enhance people to people contact, promote marriage across the border.  This will develop at least some sort of trust between the two nations. And the people from both the sides will not see each other as their enemies. So the ideology of the people has to be changed. The people from both the sides must see each other as their brother and not as their enemies. The ideology of the people can play a very significant role in establishing peace between the two nations.

Therefore, in most of the cases the efforts to establish peace was vitiated either because of the terrorist attacks like the Mumbai train blasts, accidents like the shooting of the Pakistani aircraft by the Indian Arm forces or because of the mistrust between the two nations. So, the main problem is the mistrust between the two nations. And as trust is very essential to establish peace, it’s very essential that before taking any measure to resolve the conflict the ideology of the people has to be changed. The environment of trust between the two nations has to be created because it is necessary to implement any peace measure effectively. So unless the situation of the mistrust is eliminated the peace measures can’t be implemented properly. And peace will not be established unless the peace measures are implemented properly.


  1. Nasreen Akthar, A Response to “The Kashmir ConflictT”, 27 International Journal on World Peace
  2. Z.Hilali, Confidence and Security Building Measures for India and Pakistan, 30 Alternatives: Global, Local, Political
  3. Omer Farooq Zain, Siachen Glacier Conflict: Discordant in Pakistan-India Reconciliation, 59 Pakistan Horizon
  4. Mohammad Arif, The Kashmir dispute and Pakistan-India Relations : 1972-1992, 47 Pakistan Horizon
  5. Nabiha Gul, Pakistan-India Dialogue, 61 Pakistan Horizon

[1] ibid

[2] ibid

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