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3.6 India Pakistan Relations

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Pakistan Political Map
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Jammu Kashmir and disputed areas.


Terror and talks cannot go together. Unless and until Pakistan stops terrorist activities in India, there will be no dialogue and we will not participate in SAARC.

Ms. Sushma Swaraj.

How should we look at Pakistan from India’s perspective? The country which is the biggest foreign policy challenge. How? It is a source of all sorts of threat starting from the nuclear war & proxy wars. 
Why Pakistan is biggest challenge? Why not China?
Though Pakistan is a proxy of China, yet India faces bigger danger on the western border. Historically also India has been vulnerable to the invasions from western borders. To quote Karl Marx ‘History repeats, first as a tragedy and then as a farce.’ (18TH BRUMAIRE OF LOUIS BONAPARTE).
Why bigger threat from Pakistan than China? China is a comparatively more responsible member of international politics. & China and India have some common stakes in the international politics. Pakistan is designated in international politics as ‘mad child with loaded gun’. Though Pakistan has never been added in the category of rogue state, yet Pakistan is an ideal example rogue state. Hence India should deal with Pakistan by ‘strategic restrain’. According to Pratap Bhanu Mehta, since Pakistan is not a normal state rather a rogue state. Strategic restrain is not the weakness rather measured response.
What should be India’s policy towards the country with which it has enmity, posses nuclear weapon?
We can take two types of approaches.
1) Offensive – Since Pakistan is open to use nuclear weapon even in case India goes for conventional war, India needs to change its retaliation from ‘counter value’ (when civilians are attacked) to ‘counter force’ (battlefield war). Tactical weapons in battlefield. 
2) Defensive – Since nuclear weapons are not supposed to be used, hence defensive posture can also be adopted. Pakistan does nuclear blackmailing. Pakistan provokes India through proxy wars. Pakistan wants to provoke India for war. Against proxy wars, if India declares war, India will appear irresponsible. The impact will be, more pressure by international community for India to resolve Kashmir issue. Hence India does not have much options towards Pakistan directly or bilaterally. Since Pakistan is the biggest security challenge, it tests the ability of south block whether we have handled Pakistan challenge in a optimal manner or less than optimal.

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India Pakistan Issues

Kashmir issue.
According to Pakistan, it is a main issue but according to India, it is not at all an issue, it’s just law and order problem. Kashmir is not just India Pakistan issue, it involves other actors, the prominent being China. We only talk about PoK but ignore CoK. USA and Russia also have stakes in Kashmir because of its strategic location. It is believed that even if Kashmir issue is resolved, India Pakistan rivalry will not end. The battle between India and Pakistan is not for land, it is a battle of identities.

Indus water treaty.

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Govt. thought that Indus water treaty can be utilized as a India’s leverage. It requires India to develop dams. India should not convene the meeting of the permanent commission, which is the first stage in the resolution. The next stages are mediation and arbitration.

Gilgit Baltistan Issue.

Related image
// Never use the word Azad Kashmir. Always use word ‘PoK’.

It has no constitutional status in Pakistan, however Pakistan wanted to declare it as a province. There was opposition from Kashmir. At the time of independence, Gilgit Baltistan was under the British. On the eve of partition, British officials posted in Gilgit Baltistan raised Pakistan’s flag. When Pakistan occupied the Kashmir (PoK), Gilgit Baltistan also remained on its side. Since it does not have any constitutional status, there is no proper administration. Inhabited by Shias hence there are human right issues. People in Kashmir object the full integration of Gilgit Baltistan because it will justify India’s action to fully integrate its side of Kashmir, ending the temporary status under Art 370.

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Siachen Issue
Strategic location. At present Indian forces are in advantageous situation. Siachen has been a no man’s land because of geographical conditions LoC could not be demarcated beyond NJ 9842. Pakistan started giving visas to the foreign tourists. Indian Air Force conducted operation Meghdoot and occupied the strategic heights. Both the countries spent crores of rupees per day. According to Stephen P Cohen, fighting for Siachen is like to bald persons fighting for a comb. Manmohan Singh wanted to make it a mountain of peace. He proposed joint explorations. Indian army is against the resolution. India’s position is
1| Demarcate the boundary. 
2| Delineate and
3| Demilitarize. Pakistan wants first India to demilitarize.

Sir Creek Issue

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It was a dispute between State of Sindh and State of Kachchh. Since Sindh became the part of Pakistan, Pakistan lays down the claim.
India adopts Thalweg principle – division of water bodies from the middle. This will put sir creek under India. Pakistan does not accept Thalweg principle because it is meant for navigable waters and it is a marshy land. India says that it becomes navigable during high time. As per 1914’s map Sir Creek is part of Pakistan’s territory and as per 1925 map it is part of India.

Overview: India’s foreign policy with Pakistan

Pakistan has been dealt by all the prime ministers at a personal level. The biggest weakness of India’s foreign policy has been institutional. Foreign policy making has been an extremely informal affair. It is not necessary that every prime minister is expert in international politics. The overview of the approaches followed by different prime ministers show lack of understanding of Pakistan as a country. Lack of assessment of seriousness of challenges posed by Pakistan. And lack of long term vision.
Rajesh Basrur in Oxford Handbook of India’s foreign policy has analyzed the approach of different prime ministers.

1_Pandit Nehru

He never considered Pakistan as a challenge. He always believed that Pakistan will automatically come back to India. Pakistan’s economy, geography and destiny linked to India. Maybe Nehru’s thinking that Pakistan will ultimately be a part of India led him to sign ‘Indus water treaty agreement’ which is highly unfavourable to India.

2_Indira Gandhi

If Nehru’s approach was idealistic, Indira Gandhi’s approach was realist. However even Indira Gandhi was not an expert in international politics. 1971 war is a military victory but one of the biggest diplomatic defeat of India. India got nothing in return, except the empty promise that Kashmir issue will be resolved by talks in a bilateral framework.

Rajiv Gandhi’s policies were continuation of Indira Gandhi’s approach.

Gujral doctrine.

Gujral’s doctrine can be thought as much well thought gesture of India. He made huge investments in improving relations with South Asian neighbours. Within very short time, there was a significant improvement and relaxation of tensions. India and Pakistan agreed for visa liberalization for students and patients.


Vajpayee understood the compulsion of improvement of the relations with neighbours.

We can choose our friends, but we cannot choose our neighbours. We can change history but we cannot change geography.

Former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

However Vajpayee’s policies were also inconsistent. It was Vajpayee who decided to go nuclear.
It has resulted into
1| Extreme deterioration in the security situation for India.
2| Legitimation of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.
3| Opportunity for nuclear blackmail.

Under US pressure, Vajpayee went for bus diplomacy. It resulted into Lahore declaration 1999. Lahore declaration ended in Kargil. Kargil shows the failure of India’s deterrence. Major war could have been averted only with the involvement of US and China.

Manmohan Singh

Manmohan Singh also took keen interest in normalization of relations. The pillar of Manmohan Singh’s doctrine was economic diplomacy. One of the major agenda was to get MFN status from Pakistan. It is believed that India and Pakistan reached to the position of resolution of Sir Creek issue and even Siachen. There was opening of cross LoC trade. It is believed that Manmohan Singh and Musharraf could arrive at the formula to solve Kashmir issue. Though formula was never formally declared, yet the steps were taken by India to move towards formula.

1| Make LoC a soft border. (Opening cross LoC trade and movement of people between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad.
2| Demilitarization of public places in Kashmir. Govt. of India has moved army away from public places and stationed at borders. Para military forces were deployed.
3| It is believed that there was an agreement that in future it will be brought under some sort of joint administration. There was no movement on the formula as Musharraf was thrown out of power.
4| Mumbai terror attacks derailed the composite dialogue. The major opposition party in India made the precondition, first bring the perpetrators of the attack to the process of law for the sake of justice. Clear lines were drawn. No talks with terror.


Modi govt. started with neighbourhood first policy. Modi invited Nawaz Sharif to oath taking ceremony. He also adopted cricket diplomacy. He also took some unusual steps like halting at Pakistan while returning from Afghanistan (Mango diplomacy). Nawaz Sharif responded with shawl diplomacy. However Modi could not remain consistent. After Pathankot and Uri attacks, govt. abandoned the engagement and started isolation. There have been occasions when decisions were taken to restart the dialogue but at the same time dialogues were called off. Scholars designated Modi’s Pakistan policy as ‘instant coffee’. Modi govt. tried to pursue the ‘Doval doctrine’. It denotes offensive defence. The Doval doctrine denotes working on Pakistan’s vulnerabilities. Speak in the language Pakistan understands. The use of money, weapons, non state actors, Balochistan card, Gilgit Baltistan issue and use India’s leverage in Indus Water Treaty.

Modi’s Pakistan policy has reached to dead end as suggested by Kanti Bajpai and lacks cohesion and vision as suggested by Shashi Tharoor. In the words of Sushant Sarine, ‘India deals with Pakistan less as a policy imperative and more as a pathology’.

Overall analysis of different Prime Ministers show
1_Lack of clarity on the goals.
2_Lack of understanding of Pakistan.

For any sound policy, first thing is clarity of goals. India can pursue two broad goals. 1) Peace with Pakistan. 2) War with Pakistan.
Both the goals will come at a price. Considering Pakistan has a strategic balance, war is not an option. Hence peace is the only rational option. Peace can be achieved only through dialogue. Once we decide for dialogue, we should be ready to pay the cost. There are vested interests on both sides of the borders who would not like peace. There is no point calling off the dialogue because of the terror attacks. We are yielding to those who do not want peace. Peace is the only option available as status quo only results into deterioration.

How scholars describe India Pakistan relations?

Dilip Hiro
// Any Q on Ind Pak quote Dilip Hiro //
India Pakistan relations is a story of fatal miscalculations, antagonisms and mutual  paranoia (unwarranted jealousy) of elites. The history of Partition looms like Banquo’s ghost on the entire subcontinent.

Stephen P Cohen. SHOOTING FOR A CENTURY book.
He calls India Pakistan conflict as ‘paired minority conflict’ which has reached to the mutually hurting stalemate. The only other examples of such rivalry are Jewish and Arabs, Tamil and Sinhalese, Shias and Sunnis. Mutually hurting stalemate means present situation is such that one party cannot lose and other party cannot win. According to him, India Pakistan relations may not become normal for another 30 years. They will continue to shoot at each others for at least 100 years before they realize the futility.

Rajesh Basrur, (Prof. of IR and one of the author of ‘Oxford Handbook of India’s foreign policy.’)
Almost every prime minister in India dealt with the issue of Pakistan personally, yet we have not been able to manage Pakistan because many factors operate beyond the control of India.’ (The great games among major powers). Hence given the level of animosity, we have managed the relations quite well.

1] India and Pakistan have structured their foreign policies against each other.
2] If Pakistan’s obsession with India is flaring, New Delhi’s treatment is hardly different.
3] Their policies are mutually exclusive everywhere and are seen as zero sum games.
4] Pakistan challenges India’s ambition to emerge as a major power in the region. Pakistan put forwards a dual burden for India, failure to have a decisive victory and lack of ability to fulfill its ambition of regional hegemony.
5] The struggle is so pivotal that even the end of cold war has not made any change. There are many overlapping issues like conflict of identities, subnational identities, domestic politics. The obstacles to peace are numerous on both sides of the border. India till date has not accepted the existence of Pakistan. It continues to treat Kashmir as a law and order issue as it cannot accept the two nation theory. It is because of Pakistan, India cannot achieve the role which it wants to achieve.

Hussain Haqqani, Pakistani Journalist and ex Pakistan Diplomat
// Hussain Haqqani’s recent book REIMAGING PAKISTAN.
Pakistan nurtures false narratives, it is in the state of denial, Pakistan’s reductive nationalism comes in the path of improvement of the relations. Pakistan’s nationalism comprise of 95% hate for India and 5% love for Pakistan.

In his article WHY CAN’T WE BE JUST FRIENDS, he mentions obsession with Kashmir, the role of army and the attitude of the elites.

T C A Raghavan, Ex Diplomat, Attended Afghan peace meeting in Russia.

Enough has changed to make sure that older solutions will not work. We keep on inhaling the voices of the past to deal with the present. The cyclical pattern of resumption of talks and hawkish standoffs will go on.

Kanti Bajpai, Academic analyst.
India’s policy of Pakistan has reached to dead end. Coercive diplomacy is untenable. Pakistan’s ability to bear coercion is quite high. Pakistan is not a squeamish power. International patience with India is wearing down. Pakistan is also a sharp power. Pakistan has trapped India in propaganda war. India has lent itself to appear irresponsible power. India needs strategic patience. India should come back to the negotiating table. India should stop crying wolf with US over Pakistan. India should pursue three strategies.

1] Reopen the dialogue.
2] Strengthen strategic relations with USA to pressurize Pakistan.
3] Go for détente with China.

Sumit Ganguly, Prof. of Pol Sci.
India should maintain deterrence by denial.
Maintain adequate forces in Kashmir.
Strengthen counter insurgency efforts.
Address grievances in Kashmir.
In context of growing radicalization around the world, take steps to check radicalization of Muslim youth in the country.

M K Narayanan, Ex Diplomat.
1] India’s policy towards Pakistan has been a bundle of inconsistent and irrational options. India has the long term goal of restoring the geographical unity of the subcontinent.
2] Pakistan understands India’s end game and hence does not allow India to pursue its ambitions.
3] He calls India’s policy towards Pakistan as Yo-Yo diplomacy.
4] We need new thinking. India should explore the option of cyber war.
5] We must evolve a new counter-force doctrine.

Shashi Tharoor PAX INDICA book

He calls Pakistan as ‘brother enemy‘. There is very limited option India has in dealing with Pakistan bilaterally. India has tried all sorts of diplomacy from bus to cricket, nothing works. Hence he proposes ‘back channel diplomacy’. Reaching to the countries which have leverage on Pakistan. e.g. USA, Saudi Arabia, UAE.

India should utilize its growing weight in international economy to pressurize donor institutions to put conditionalities on Pakistan to take effective counter terrorism efforts.

India should also utilize its growing political weight at international platforms like United Nations to take effective counter-terrorism measures. India should pressurize the international community for the earliest conclusion of CCIT. (Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism).

The key to Pakistan is maintaining the fundamentals of Indian economy strong. We have to increase the stakes of international community in Indian economy to prevent the terrorist attacks in India.

Last but not least, there is a need to maintain the spirit of India. Pakistan cannot win till the spirit of India exists. The existence of India as a secular country is a biggest defeat to the idea of Pakistan and its existence.

In one of his recent Article titled DOES MODI HAS PAKISTAN POLICY? – India’s approach has been inconsistent, episodic. There is no cohesive policy. Anger is not a policy. There is no compelling vision for the lasting peace. Modi’s policy reflect episodic engagements, regression to confrontation and jingoism.

In General
The present govt.s policy towards Pakistan is blame and shame. Modi govt’s approach is to isolate Pakistan. The pronouncements of the foreign minister at international platforms do not present India as a responsible state. The speeches of the foreign minister at UN are not meant for international audience, they are meant for the domestic audience. Thus the Pakistan policy is meant for domestic consumption and there are no takers of India’s policy at global level. Pakistan cannot be isolated, Pakistan is known as pivot state. It is also called as the zipper state which connects Eurasia.

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how do you get the points..i think subhra ranjan notes?


are these genuine?


Hi Admin,
Can you please explain what does Sushant Sareen sir mean by ‘India may be dealing with Pakistan less as a policy imperative and more as a pathology’?


In ‘Manmohan Singh’ Pakistan doctrine, the last line should be ‘No talks with terror’.