Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

Pakistan’s Economic Crisis and the IMF Challenge


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : IMF

Mains level : Pakistan economic crisis, Debt trap

Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves have been depleting during the last one year and is heading towards a default risk as Sri Lanka did.

Pakistani economy is said to have been crippling since the discontinuance of US ‘military’ aid which it had used

What is the news?

  • The Pakistani rupee has been on free fall; from 150 in April 2021 to 213 against the dollar on 21 June, an all-time low.
  • This would mean high oil and electricity prices, to outrage the people who are already to the streets due to ousted PM Imran Khan.
  • The government-International Monetary Fund (IMF) talks have remained complicated.

Options available for Pakistan

  • Pakistan is under deep Balance of Payment (BoP) crisis (as was India in 1991).
  • Pakistan has exhausted all credit options as SL did.
  • Even the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is at standstill.
  • Even the Saudi’s and so called ‘caliphate’ of Turkey has not come to Pakistan’s rescue.

Only option left: IMF bail out

  • The immediate future of Pakistan’s economy would depend on IMF resuming its support.
  • Despite an intense discussion between the two, there has not been a consensus until now.

What is IMF bail-out?

  • Bailout is a general term for extending financial support to a company or a country facing a potential bankruptcy threat.
  • When a country asks the IMF for a loan, the country is facing a major economic crisis.
  • In particular, it does not have enough foreign currency (‘dollars’) to pay for imports and the repayments on its loans. In short, the country cannot pay its international bills. So, it need a bailout.
  • The IMF will give the country an aid, which is ‘cash’ in the sense that it does not have to be spent on a particular project. This money can be used to pay its bills.
  • But, the IMF will impose certain conditions. The basic condition is to spend less – both domestically and internationally.
  • This belt-tightening is not easy – people lose jobs, prices rise, etc. And, one has to repay the loan.
  • These conditions are necessary to ensure that the money is being spent where it is supposed to.

Pakistan and IMF: A track record

  • Pakistan’s relationship with the IMF has remained complicated. It sees conditions laid as a breach of sovereignty.
  • Though Islamabad has been negotiating with the IMF repeatedly, there has been an economic nationalism, mostly jingoistic, against approaching the IMF in recent years.
  • Imran Khan, the former PM made statements and fuelled the sentiments against the IMF.
  • After becoming the PM in 2018, he preferred approaching friendly countries (China and Saudi Arabia) and avoiding the IMF.
  • The new government is now back to the IMF; it expects the IMF to release the payments, expand the support programme, and give a longer rope to repay.

Conditions laid out by IMF for recent bail-out

  • The IMF is willing to support Pakistan but has some conditions regarding macroeconomic reforms.
  • It wants Pakistan to be transparent about its debt situation, including what Islamabad owes to China, as a part of the CPEC.
  • Terror-financing in Pakistan is the most favored type of investment!
  • The IMF may agree to support after a few more promises by the government.
  • But the relief may be less than what Pakistan would hope for.

A vicious cycle

  • Since its inception, Pakistan has spent more years inside an IMF programme than outside of it.
  • Every leader took the money, imposed massive hardships on the population through austerity and demand suppression and then reneges on its commitment through a patchy implementation.
  • Radical fanaticism and anti-India sentiments are successful tools of public appeasement.

Will Pakistan pursue macroeconomic reforms?

  • In Pakistan, budgets have remained populist.
  • The economic governance declined due to corruption, lack of financial institutions’ independence, and the export decline.
  • The subsidies in the energy sector — fuel, oil and electricity — remain high to appease the public.
  • With the present coalition government facing elections, they are less likely to take any further bold decisions.

Will “friendly countries” support Pakistan without preconditions?

  • Saudi Arabia and China have been supporting Pakistan. MBS has already pulled his hands.
  • Riyadh’s support is not unconditional.
  • It can ask Pakistan “to return the money at any time if the two countries have divergent views regarding their relationship or ties with a third country, or some other issue.”
  • China has been another significant source for Pakistan. Islamabad has been regularly seeking loans from China within and outside the CPEC projects.
  • However, since the attack on Chinese citizens by Baloch Fighters, China appears to have been disgusted with Pakistan.
  • CPEC is also at a standstill.

FATF clearance is no panacea

  • During the latest Financial Action Task Force (FATF) meeting, there was an understanding that Pakistan has met its requirement.
  • The FATF has agreed to explore the possibilities of removing Pakistan from the grey list.
  • However, even when Pakistan was on the grey list, the IMF had been holding talks with Islamabad.
  • The big two — China and Saudi Arabia — were not constrained by Pakistan’s listing in the FATF.
  • So, the relaxation is less likely to open gates for big investments.

Will Pakistan go the Sri Lankan way?

  • The situation was similar in Sri Lanka — the falling value of rupee, declining foreign exchange reserves, differences with the IMF, and rising fuel prices.
  • All of them led to public protests in Sri Lanka against the government.
  • The economic and energy crises in Pakistan have not snowballed into a political storm as it had happened in Sri Lanka.
  • The dope of “threats to Religion” works effectively there.


  • The experiment of Pakistan (as a separate nation) has failed on various fronts.
  • To conclude, Pakistan’s economic and energy situation is serious and demands bold decisions.
  • The situation will worsen in the short term before it gets better, but this has been Pakistan’s history in the last 75 years.
  • With a relief from the IMF, after a protracted negotiation, a few band-aids, and the US intervention, Islamabad may muddle through this time as well, until the next crisis.


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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

Indus Waters Treaty (IWT): An enduring agreement bridging India-Pakistan ties


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Lessons from Indus Water Treaty


The 118th meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) comprising the Indus Commissioners of India and Pakistan held on May 30-31, 2022 in New Delhi.

Indus Waters Treaty, 1960: A background

  • After years of arduous negotiations, the Indus Waters Treaty was signed in Karachi on September 19, 1960, by then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and then Pakistani President Ayub Khan, negotiated by the World Bank.
  • According to this agreement, control over the water flowing in three “eastern” rivers of India — the Beas, the Ravi and the Sutlej was given to India
  • The control over the water flowing in three “western” rivers of India — the Indus, the Chenab and the Jhelum was given to Pakistan
  • The treaty allowed India to use western rivers water for limited irrigation use and unrestricted use for power generation, domestic, industrial and non-consumptive uses such as navigation, floating of property, fish culture, etc. while laying down precise regulations for India to build projects
  • India has also been given the right to generate hydroelectricity through the run of the river (RoR) projects on the Western Rivers which, subject to specific criteria for design and operation is unrestricted.
  • The Permanent Indus Commission, which has a commissioner from each country, oversees the cooperative mechanism and ensures that the two countries meet annually (alternately in India and Pakistan).
  • This year, the commission met twice, in March in Islamabad, Pakistan, and then in New Delhi, in May.
  • It is a rare feat that despite the many lows in India-Pakistan relations, talks under the treaty have been held on a regular basis.

Some disagreements

  • Throughout its existence, there have been many occasions during which differences between the two countries were discernible.
  • Both countries held different positions when Pakistan raised objections regarding the technical design features of the Kishanganga and Ratle hydroelectric power plants.
  • Differences were also discernible when Pakistan approached the World Bank to facilitate the setting up of a court of arbitration to address the concerns related to these two projects referred to in Article IX Clause 5 of the treaty, and when India requested the appointment of a Neutral Expert referent to Clause 2.1 of Article IX .
  • Eventually, on March 31, 2022, the World Bank, decided to resume two separate processes by appointing a neutral expert and a chairman for the court of arbitration.
  • The appointment of a neutral expert will find precedence to address the differences since under Article IX Clause 6 of the treaty provisions, Arbitration ‘shall not apply to any difference while it is being dealt with by a Neutral Expert’.
  • Pakistan, invoking Article VII Clause 2 on future cooperation, raised objections on the construction and technical designs of the Pakal Dul and Lower Kalnai hydropower plants.
  • Similarly, India has raised concerns on issues such as Pakistan’s blockade of the Fazilka drain.

Lessons from the treaty

  • Engagement between conflicting nations: The treaty is an illustration of a long-standing engagement between the conflicting nations that has stood the vagaries of time.
  • Water management cooperation: The treaty is considered one of the oldest and the most effective examples of water management cooperation in the region and the world.
  • Avoiding conflict: With the exception of differences on a few pending issues, both countries have avoided any actions resulting in the aggravation of the conflict or acted in a manner causing conflict to resurface.

Potential for cooperation

  • Joint research: Recognising common interests and mutual benefits, India and Pakistan can undertake joint research on the rivers to study the impact of climate change for ‘future cooperation’ (underlined in Article VII).
  • Potential for cooperation and development: The Indus Waters Treaty also offers great potential for cooperation and development in the subcontinent which can go a long way in ensuring peace and stability.


Given that both India and Pakistan have been committed to manage the rivers in a responsible manner, the Treaty can be a reference point to resolve other water-related issues in the region through regular dialogue and interaction.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

India needs a forward-looking strategy on Pakistan


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Forward-looking strategy on Pakistan


India’s approach in dealing with Pakistan today is very different from the framework that emerged at the dawn of the 1990s.

Terms of engagement with Pakistan

  • From the 1990s, for nearly three decades, it was Pakistan that had the political initiative.
  • The turmoil in Kashmir, the international focus on nuclear proliferation, and the relentless external pressure for a sustained dialogue with Pakistan put Delhi in a difficult situation.
  • If Pakistan was on the political offensive, a series of weak coalition governments in Delhi were forced onto the back foot.
  • At the heart of Pakistan’s ambition was to change the status quo in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Islamabad also played up to the concerns in Western chancelleries that the conflict in Kashmir might escalate to the nuclear level.
  • The new international consensus that Kashmir is the “world’s most dangerous nuclear flashpoint” aligned well with Pakistan’s strategy.
  • Delhi had no option but to respond, but any move to counter Pakistan would make the situation worse.
  • Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India has begun to reset the terms of the engagement agenda.
  • Change in regional and international context: Meanwhile, the regional and international context has also altered in many ways since the early 1990s essentially in India’s favour.

Reset in engagement

  • India’s transformed relations with the US, the resolution of Delhi’s dispute with the global nuclear order, and getting the West to discard its temptation to mediate on Kashmir enormously improved India’s diplomatic position.
  • But the most consequential change has been in the economic domain.
  • The persistent neglect of economic challenges left Pakistan in an increasingly weaker position in relation to India.
  • If India has inched its way into the top six global economies, Pakistan today is broke.
  • Modi had the opportunity to build on these shifting fortunes of Delhi and Islamabad and develop a three-pronged strategy of his own.
  • 1] India bet that the heavens won’t fall if Delhi stops talking to Islamabad or negotiating with Pakistan-backed militant groups in Kashmir.
  • 2] Delhi has been unafraid of staring at nuclear escalation in responding to Pakistan’s cross-border terrorism.
  • 3] By changing the constitutional status of Kashmir in 2019, India has reduced the scope of India’s future negotiations with Pakistan on Kashmir.

Way forward

  • Pakistan’s hand today is much weaker than in the 1990s and Delhi’s room for manoeuvring has grown, notwithstanding the challenges it confronts on the China border.
  • That opens some room for new Indian initiatives toward Pakistan.
  • Getting Pakistan’s army and its political class to be more practical in engaging India is certainly a tall order; but Delhi can afford to make a move.


While there can be much disagreement on Pakistan’s capacity to respond, Delhi’s new initiatives can reinforce the positive evolution of Indian foreign policy, and expand the space for Indian diplomacy in the region and beyond.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

India-Pakistan ties and the mirror of 2019


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper- India-Pakistan relation


An official delegation from Pakistan was in New Delhi recently to hold talks with its Indian counterparts under the aegis of the Indus Water Treaty.

Positive developments in the relations

  • Starting from February, India has been sending through Pakistan consignments of wheat, via the World Food Programme, to the Taliban-run Afghanistan.
  • Evidently, channels of communication between the two governments are working and open hostility has subsided, if not vanished completely.
  • China factor: The change has been driven by realist considerations that surfaced during the Ladakh border crisis on the Line of Actual Control with China in the summer of 2020.
  • The recent change of government in Pakistan, including Imran Khan’s removal, is seen as a positive in New Delhi.
  • The official Indian establishment has had close ties with both the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the Pakistan Peoples Party that are now part of the government.

Countering the collusive military threat from China and Pakistan

  • The border crisis in Ladakh raised the spectre of a collusive military threat between China and Pakistan.
  • Such a challenge cannot be effectively dealt with by the military alone and would need all the instruments of the state — diplomatic, economic, informational, and military — to act in concert.
  •  To prevent such a situation, India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval opened backchannel talks with Pakistan.

Way ahead

  • There are some low-hanging fruits which can be plucked the moment a political go-ahead is given.
  • These include a deal on the Sir Creek dispute, an agreement for revival of bilateral trade, return of High Commissioners to the missions in Delhi and Islamabad, and build-up of diplomatic missions to their full strength.
  • Demilitarisation of the Siachen glacier is still seen to be off the table as the Indian proposal is believed to be unacceptable to the Pakistan Army.
  • A window of opportunity would possibly open in Pakistan after the next elections, which are scheduled next year but could be held earlier.


India must shift course from the belligerence it has displayed and profited from earlier in favour of proper diplomatic and political engagement with Pakistan.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

Pak delegation in India for Indus Water Treaty talks


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Indus Water Treaty

Mains level : Restoration and normalization of India-Pak ties

A five-member Pakistani delegation has arrived in India for talks over the ongoing water dispute under the Indus Water Commission between the two countries.

Why in news?

  • India is building 10 hydro plant projects to cut excess water into Pakistan.
  • Pakistan is expected to raise the projects being constructed by India under the Indus treaty.

What is Indus Water Treaty?

  • The Indus Waters Treaty is a water-distribution treaty between India and Pakistan, brokered by the World Bank signed in Karachi in 1960.
  • According to this agreement, control over the water flowing in three “eastern” rivers of India — the Beas, the Ravi and the Sutlej was given to India
  • The control over the water flowing in three “western” rivers of India — the Indus, the Chenab and the Jhelum was given to Pakistan.

Basis of the treaty: Equitable water-sharing

  • Back in time, partitioning the Indus rivers system was inevitable after the Partition of India in 1947.
  • The sharing formula devised after prolonged negotiations sliced the Indus system into two halves.
  • Equitable it may have seemed, but the fact remained that India conceded 80.52 percent of the aggregate water flows in the Indus system to Pakistan.
  • It also gave Rs 83 crore in pounds sterling to Pakistan to help build replacement canals from the western rivers.
  • Such generosity is unusual of an upper riparian.
  • India conceded its upper riparian position on the western rivers for the complete rights on the eastern rivers.
  • Water was critical for India’s development plans.

What were the rights accorded to India?

  • The treaty allowed India to use western rivers water for limited irrigation use and unrestricted use for power generation, domestic industrial and non-consumptive uses such as navigation, floating of property, fish culture, etc.
  • It lays down precise regulations to build any water or hydel projects.
  • India has been given the right to generate hydroelectricity through run-of-the-river projects on the western rivers subject to specific criteria for design and operation.
  • The pact also gives the right to Pakistan to raise objections to designs of Indian hydroelectric projects on the western rivers.

Significance of the treaty

  • It is a treaty that is often cited as an example of the possibilities of peaceful coexistence that exist despite the troubled relationship.
  • It has survived 3 crucial wars.
  • It may be listed among the most successful international treaties as it has withstood the test of time.

Why has the treaty survived?

  • It is for India’s generosity on Pakistan for sharing waters of its own rivers.
  • India has refrained from weaponizing waters. Pakistan cannot survive without this treaty.
  • About 80% of Pakistan’s agriculture depends on Indus and the riparian rivers waters.
  • Backtracking on the treaty could affect India’s stand as global reliable partner who disrespects bilateral agreements.

A tacit nerve of terroristan

  • Responding to state sponsor of terrorism by Pakistan, India can escalate a water war , which can kill the crippling economy of Pakistan.
  • If India wants, it can either flood or drought-starve Pakistan by not obligating to this treaty.

Need for a rethink

  • But PM Modi’s words equally hold relevance that “Blood and waters cannot flow together”.
  • There is no reason to believe that India could start a water war with Pakistan on humanitarian grounds.
  • Floods and droughts will starve ordinary Pakistanis while their politicians would still live in luxury.

Way forward

  • The role of India, as a responsible upper riparian abiding by the provisions of the treaty, has been remarkable.
  • However, India needs to rethink or re-negotiate this treaty.
  • Just like water affects ordinary Pakistanis, so does terrorism affects Indians.


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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

In news: Balochistan Freedom Movement


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NA

Mains level : Baloch Freedom Movement

The Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), one of the most prominent militant groups operating against Pakistani, has claimed a suicidal attack on Chinese citizens in Karachi.

Who are the BLA fighters?

  • The BLA announced itself in 2005 with a rocket attack on a paramilitary camp in Balochistan Kohlu during a visit by then President Pervez Musharraf.
  • It is a nationalist militant group that has been waging an insurgency for Baloch self-determination and a separate homeland for the Baloch people.

Rise of Baloch nationalism

  • While the BLA’s armed insurgency is about two decades old, demands of Baloch nationalists for political autonomy and threats of secession date back to 1947.
  • The Khan of Kalat (who claimed sovereignty over the four princely states of Kalat, Lasbela, Kharan and Makran) held out for independence, and the Pakistan Army forced his accession in March 1948.
  • Between 1973 and 1977, the Zulfikar Ali Bhutto-led government sent in the Pakistan Army to crush a leftist guerilla war inspired by the liberation of Bangladesh.
  • The tribal sardars of Balochistan, who had been at the forefront of Baloch nationalism, and were co-opted by the state in the late 1970s, grew rebellious again.
  • The insurgency gathered momentum from 2006, after the Pakistan Army killed the Bugti sardar, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, who had been also been a chief minister and governor of the province.

Why it is gaining momentum now?

  • The Pakistan Army’s operations against Baloch nationalists over the last two decades have seen hundreds of disappearances, and other alleged human rights violations.
  • Baloch nationalists also see the sudden influx of jihadist groups in the province as a move by the Pakistan security establishment to counter their nationalist demands.
  • In 2012, the US Congress convened a hearing on Balochistan and supported the demand for a free Baloch land.
  • In a significant shift in policy, back then in 2016, PM Modi had made a reference to the Baloch freedom struggle in his Independence Day speech.

Why Balochistan matters?

  • Balochistan borders Afghanistan and Iran.
  • The people are mostly tribal with secular principles and are admirers of ties with India.
  • With gas, oil, copper and gold deposits, it is the most resource-rich of Pakistan’s four provinces.
  • It makes up half of Pakistan’s area, but has only 3.6% of its population.
  • Pakistan alleges that the insurgency is backed by India.
  • This is the region where a former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav was abducted from Iran and charged for espionage supporting Baloch activism in Pakistan.
  • Many Baloch activists had been seeking asylum and has applied for Indian citizenship. New Delhi neither confirmed nor deny the reports.

Why did BLA target the Chinese now?

  • The BLA claimed it attacks Chinese nationals because Beijing ignored warnings not to enter deals and agreements regarding Balochistan before the province had been “liberated”.
  • Baloch people see China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as neo-colonist move against their sovereignty.
  • Among China’s major projects in Balochistan is the port of Gwadar, strategically located near the Strait of Hormuz – a crucial oil shipping route in the Arabian Sea.
  • The security of its nationals in Pakistan has become a major issue for Beijing, especially since it launched the CPEC.
  • Such attacks has literally stalled the work in progress of CPEC projects making it a sheer failure.

Significance of recent events

  • It is rare that the BLA deployed female suicide bombers. Recent attack was done by a highly educated lady and mother of two.
  • This is also the first time that a non-jihadist ethno-nationalist group has deployed a woman suicide bomber in the manner of Sri Lanka’s LTTE.
  • According to security experts familiar with the Baloch insurgency, it marks a worsening security situation in Pakistan.
  • As the training camps are alleged by Pakistan to be in Afghanistan, the incident may also be a pointer to Pakistan’s loss of control over the Talibans.



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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

The wider impact of Pakistan’s internal crisis


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Implications of Pakistan's internal crisis


As Pakistan goes through a major political convulsion, India must resist the temptation to see the changes across our western frontiers through the narrow prism of bilateral relations.

Why Pakistan matters

  • Pakistan is an important regional piece in the power play between the US, China and Russia.
  • Given its location at the crossroads of the Subcontinent, Middle East, Eurasia, and China, Pakistan has always been a vital piece of real estate that was actively sought by contending geopolitical blocs.
  • The internal and external have always been tightly linked in Pakistan.
  • Today, Pakistan’s internal battles are tied to external geopolitical rivalry.

Two important factors in the political trajectory of Pakistan

  • Any Indian strategy in dealing with the new government in Islamabad would depend on an assessment of Pakistan’s post-Imran political trajectory.
  • Two important factors stand out.
  • 1] First is the changing nature of civil military relations in Pakistan.
  • It is part of a serious intra-elite struggle that transcends the well-known military dominance over Pakistan’s polity.
  • One of the more interesting questions to come out of the current episode is whether the army’s famed internal coherence and unity of command might endure the crisis.
  • 2] Second is the growing fragility of Pakistan’s polity triggered by the deepening economic crisis and sharpening social contradictions.
  • There is no guarantee that the army’s ties with new civilian rulers will be smooth nor can we assume that the civilian coalition against Imran Khan will survive the many challenges ahead as it confronts difficult policy challenges on multiple fronts.

Geopolitical challenges of Pakistan

  • Engaging India is unlikely to be a high priority for the new government in Islamabad.
  • Today, Pakistan has many other things to worry about — reviving its flagging economic fortunes, stabilising the Durand Line with Afghanistan, and rebalancing its ties with the major actors in the Middle East, including Iran, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
  • Pakistan, which traditionally enjoyed good relations with the West as well as China, is finding it hard to maintain a balance in its great power relations.
  • While the army and the new government are eager to restore ties with the US, Imran Khan has made it hard for them.
  • Imran Khan’s repeated praise for India’s independent foreign policy was in essence a critique of the Pakistan army that has long steered Islamabad’s international relations.

Way forward

  •  Delhi should focus on the potential shifts in Pakistan’s strategic orientation triggered by the current crisis.
  • The good news from Pakistan is that India is not part of the argument between the political classes or between Imran Khan and the “deep state” represented by the army.


An India that gets an accurate sense of Pakistan’s changing geopolitics will be able to better deal with Islamabad.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

What is Permanent Indus Commission?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Indus Water Treaty

Mains level : India-Pakistan Relations

A 10-member Indian delegation will visit Pakistan for the annual meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) from March 1-3.

Agenda this year

  • Pakistan has some objections on Indian hydroelectric projects namely Pakal Dul (1,000 MW), Lower Kalnai (48 MW) and Kiru (624 MW) in Chenab basin in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Pakistan has raised objections on the design of these projects.
  • India, however, asserts that the design of the project is fully compliant with the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT).

Permanent Indus Commission

  • The PIC is a bilateral commission consisting of officials from India and Pakistan, created to implement and manage the goals and objectives, and outlines of the IWT.

Indus Waters Treaty, 1960

  • The Indus Waters Treaty is a water-distribution treaty between India and Pakistan, brokered by the World Bank signed in Karachi in 1960.
  • According to this agreement, control over the water flowing in three “eastern” rivers of India — the Beas, the Ravi and the Sutlej was given to India
  • The control over the water flowing in three “western” rivers of India — the Indus, the Chenab and the Jhelum was given to Pakistan.

Rights accorded to India

  • The treaty allowed India to use western rivers water for limited irrigation use and unrestricted use for power generation, domestic industrial and non-consumptive uses such as navigation, floating of property, fish culture, etc.
  • It lays down precise regulations to build any water or hydel projects.
  • India has been given the right to generate hydroelectricity through run-of-the-river projects on the western rivers subject to specific criteria for design and operation.
  • The pact also gives the right to Pakistan to raise objections to designs of Indian hydroelectric projects on the western rivers.

Based on equitable water-sharing

  • Back in time, partitioning the Indus rivers system was inevitable after the Partition of India in 1947.
  • The sharing formula devised after prolonged negotiations sliced the Indus system into two halves.
  • Equitable it may have seemed, but the fact remained that India conceded 80.52 percent of the aggregate water flows in the Indus system to Pakistan.
  • It also gave Rs 83 crore in pounds sterling to Pakistan to help build replacement canals from the western rivers. Such generosity is unusual of an upper riparian.
  • India conceded its upper riparian position on the western rivers for the complete rights on the eastern rivers.
  • Water was critical for India’s development plans.

Significance of the treaty

  • It is a treaty that is often cited as an example of the possibilities of peaceful coexistence that exist despite the troubled relationship.
  • Well-wishers of the treaty often dub it “uninterrupted and uninterruptible”.
  • The World Bank, which, as the third party, played a pivotal role in crafting the IWT, continues to take particular pride that the treaty functions.

Need for a rethink

  • The role of India, as a responsible upper riparian abiding by the provisions of the treaty, has been remarkable.
  • However, of late, India is under pressure to rethink the extent to which it can remain committed to the provisions, as its overall political relations with Pakistan becomes intractable.


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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

Making sense of Pakistan’s new national security policy


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Making sense of new security policy of Pakistan


The national security policy statement issued last week by the government of Pakistan acknowledges the need for change.

Why does it matter for India?

  • India’s stakes in a stable Pakistan are higher than anyone else in the world.
  • Therefore, Delhi must pay close attention to the internal debates within Islamabad on the imperatives of major change in Pakistan’s national direction.
  • But as critics in Pakistan insist, the policy offers no clues on how to go about it.
  • The classified version probably has a clear strategy on how to accelerate economic growth, build national cohesion, and revitalise its foreign and security policies.

Overview of India’s transformation after 1990s

  • The crises that Pakistan confronts today are quite similar to those Delhi faced at the turn of the 1990s.
  • Economic challenge: India’s post-Independence old economic model was on the verge of collapse.
  • Political instability: The era of massive domestic political mandates was over and weak coalitions government were in place.
  • Challenges in International relations: The Soviet Union, India’s best friend in the Cold War, fell off the map and the Russian successor was more interested in integrating with the West.
  • India found that its political ties with all other major powers — the US, Europe, China and Japan — were underdeveloped at the end of the Cold War.
  • Pakistan, meanwhile, was running proxy wars in India even as it mobilised international pressures against Delhi on Kashmir.
  • Within a decade, though, India was on a different trajectory.
  • . Its reformed economy was on a high growth path.
  • India was hailed as an emerging power that would eventually become the third-largest economy in the world and a military power to reckon with.
  • Delhi also cut a deal with Washington to become a part of the global nuclear order on reasonable terms.
  • This involved a series of structural economic reforms, the recasting of foreign policy, and developing a new culture of power-sharing within coalitions and between the Centre and the states.

The economic transformation of Bangladesh

  • The economic transformation of Bangladesh has been equally impressive.
  • Since Sheikh Hasina returned to power in 2009, Bangladesh focused on economic development, stopped support to terrorism, and improved ties with the larger of its two neighbours — India. 
  • As a result, Bangladesh’s economy in 2021 (GDP at $350 billion) is well ahead of Pakistan ($280 billion).

How Pakistan missed the opportunity

  • Pakistan chose a different path.
  • Having ousted the Soviet superpower from Afghanistan in the late 1980s, Pakistan was ready to apply the model of cross-border terrorism to shake Kashmir loose from India and turn Afghanistan into a protectorate.
  • Supporting jihadi groups was seen as a low-cost strategy to achieve Pakistan’s long-standing strategic objectives in the neighbourhood.
  • These grand geopolitical obsessions left little bandwidth for the much-needed economic modernisation of Pakistan.
  • Islamabad, which relentlessly pursued parity with Delhi, now finds that the Indian economy at $3.1 trillion is more than 10 times larger than that of Pakistan.

Factors that explain change in Pakistan’s policy

  • Diminishing role in geopolitics: In the past, Pakistan had much success in pursuing a foreign policy that not only balanced India with the support of the West, but also carved out a large role for itself in the Middle East and more broadly the Muslim world.
  • Today, barring the United Kingdom, Pakistan’s equities in the West have steadily diminished.
  • Weakened ties in the Middle East: Meanwhile, it has weakened its traditionally strong ties in the Middle East with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
  • Weakened ties with the US: Although its all-weather ties with China have gone from strength to strength, the unfolding conflict between Washington and Beijing has put Pakistan in an uncomfortable strategic situation.
  • Pakistan’s support for violent religious extremism has also begun to backfire.
  • A permissive environment for terrorism has now attracted severe financial penalties from the international system.

India’s changed approach towards Pakistan

  • Delhi, which was prepared to make concessions on Kashmir in the 1990s and 2000s, has taken Kashmir off the table and is ready to use military force in response to major terror attacks.
  • Delhi’s attitude towards Islamabad now oscillates between insouciance and aggression.
  • Unlike in the past, the West is no longer pressuring India to accommodate Pakistan on Kashmir.
  • The US is eager for India’s support in balancing China in the Indo-Pacific.


All these shifts together have compelled Pakistan to rethink its policies.  There is no guarantee that the change will be definitive and for the good. But if it is, Delhi should be prepared to respond positively.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

Pakistan’s New Security Policy


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Restoration and normalization of India-Pak ties

Peace with India and its immediate neighbors is set to be the central theme of Pakistan’s first-ever National Security Policy.

Why has this news made headlines?

  • Pakistan’s (official) policy now leaves the door open for trade with India even without the settlement of the Kashmir issue – provided there is headway in bilateral talks.
  • Earlier, Kashmir used to be at the centre-stage of all Pakistani outcry.

New Security Policy

  • The country’s new policy would act as an umbrella document, to be used as a guideline for Pakistan`s foreign, international and defence related policies.
  • The five-year-policy document, which will span 2022-26, is being touted by the Pakistan government as the country’s first-ever strategy paper of its kind.

Key highlights

  • Focus on trade: The 100-page policy document has also put out elaborate plans to open trade and business ties with India.
  • Silent on Kashmir: Kashmir issue with India has been identified as a ‘vital national policy’ issue for Pakistan.
  • No public discussion: Only a part of the national security policy will be made public.
  • Defying hostility with India: The document states that Pakistan is not seeking hostility with India for the next 100 years.
  • Curbing militancy: The new policy also deals with the issue of militant and dissident groups and advocates dialogue with ‘reconcilable elements.’
  • No re-conciliation with India: There are no prospects of rapprochement with India under the current government.
  • Others: On the internal front, the new policy identifies five key areas of population/migration, health, climate and water, food security and gender mainstreaming.

Significance of such policy

  • Pakistan and India have mostly been at loggerheads with each other throughout history.
  • During the first term of Narendra Modi in 2014, the relations took a positive turn when he announced his intentions to have cordial relations with Pakistan.
  • He had also visited Islamabad in 2015 unannounced to attend a marriage ceremony in Ex-PMs family.
  • However, the relations deteriorated following the horrific 2016 Uri attacks.

Way ahead

  • Pivotal equations between India and Pakistan will continue to be dominated by Kashmir, the ongoing proxy war and terrorism.
  • It is unlikely that this prevailing equilibrium is likely to be reset by this classified policy document. That too overnight.
  • The India-centric security obsession will remain the core of this policy.


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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

Bilateral trade between India and Pakistan should be first step to normalising links


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : MFN status

Mains level : Paper 2- India-Pakistan relations


The recent partial opening of land borders between India and Pakistan signals a thaw in the troubled relations between the two South Asian neighbours.

How normalising relations with Pakistan help India?

  • Reduce India’s vulnerability to China: From the Indian standpoint, as a Centre for Policy Research report argues, a continuing freeze in relations with Pakistan will “enhance India’s external vulnerability to other actors, in particular, China”.
  • Impact on bilateral trade: After the Pulwama terror attack, bilateral trade between the two countries plummeted from around $2 billion in 2017-18 to a paltry $280 million in 2020-21 (April to February).

Steps to normalise relations

1] Pakistan needs to revoke suspension of trade with India

  • Pakistan needs to revoke the unilateral suspension of trade with India undertaken in August 2019 due to India’s decision to dilute Article 370.
  • Suspension against GATT and SAFTA: The trade suspension by Pakistan is inconsistent with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) agreement — the two international law instruments that regulate trade between India and Pakistan.
  • GATT, as part of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), allows countries to adopt trade-restraining measures on certain grounds such as public health and conservation of exhaustible natural resources (Article XX) and for national security purposes (Article XXI).
  • Neither the WTO nor SAFTA permits a country to suspend trade with another member country on grounds that it disapproves a domestic law enacted by the latter.

2] Pakistan needs to confer MFN status on India

  • Pakistan needs to reverse its practice of not according the most favoured nation (MFN) status to India.
  • MFN is a principle of non-discrimination in trade given in Article I of GATT.
  • Breach of GATT: Pakistan is in breach of Article I of GATT towards India since the formation of the WTO in 1995.

3] India should restore Pakistan’s MFN status

  • India should restore Pakistan’s MFN status that it revoked after the Pulwama terror attack by hiking the tariff rates on all Pakistani imports to an unfeasible rate of 200 per cent.
  • Such a move by India will put the ball in Pakistan’s court.
  • If Pakistan fails to reciprocate, India should exert pressure on Islamabad by mounting a legal challenge.

4] Explore the special trading arrangement under GATT

  • Article XXIV.11 allows India and Pakistan to enter into any special trading arrangement without fully complying with GATT conditions that typically apply to countries signing free trade agreements.
  • This merciful rule that only India and Pakistan enjoy, out of 160 odd WTO members, was incorporated in GATT to enable the two sides to overcome the economic hardships caused by Partition.

Consider the question “How normalising trade relations will India and Pakistan? Suggest the steps both the countries need to take in this regard.” 


India should appreciate that the rise of China, not Pakistan, poses the graver threat. Strengthening bilateral trade can be an important lever towards establishing a working relationship with Pakistan.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

Kabul, Kashmir and the return of realpolitik


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Return of Taliban in Afghanistan and implications for India-Pakistan relations


In a rather unfriendly neighbourhood, New Delhi’s attempts at forming a regional consensus to stabilise Afghanistan, albeit wise and timely, will only achieve limited success thanks to the China-Pakistan coalition and its interests at play in and over Afghanistan.

Role played by China and Pakistan in Afghanistan and its implications for India

  • China’s long-term vision for Afghanistan revolves around the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) project of which Afghanistan has been a part since May 2016.
  • The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is also viewed as a key component within the larger Chinese BRI project and Afghanistan could eventually become part of CPEC if and when the Taliban regime stabilises itself in the country.
  • Role of Pakistan in keeping India away from Afghanistan: While Pakistan lobbies the international community to help prevent Afghanistan slide into further turmoil, it is determined to keep India as far away from Kabul as possible.
  • Pakistan has always been deeply suspicious of growing India-Afghanistan relations no matter who was/is in charge in Kabul.
  • Implications for India: It is likely that the more India gets close to the Taliban, the more the Pakistani side will increase the ‘attacks’ in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • By maintaining ties with the Taliban and convening the regional security meeting in New Delhi, India has indicated that this is an acceptable risk.
  • Regional Security Dialogue: The recently-held Delhi Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan was an important initiative to help Afghanistan stabilise, the reality is that the two countries that are key to stabilising Afghanistan — China and Pakistan — decided to stay away from it.
  • Scope for other powers: Russia or the Central Asian states have neither the ability nor the desire to pursue a role in Afghanistan autonomous from the larger Chinese or Pakistani designs there.

The dilemma facing the international community

  • Taliban and Pakistan refer to the U.S.-led coalition as ‘colonisers’ who just vacated the Afghan territory; and in the same breath, they seek assistance from those very ‘former colonisers’.
  • But perhaps what might bother the West the most is that if they stabilise the country, they would still be called former colonisers, and Pakistan and China will benefit out of it geopolitically, making it, in that sense, a thankless job for the West.
  • So the question before the western leaders is how to offer structured incentives to the Taliban, and when.

The dilemma facing India

  • To engage the Taliban or not: The first one was to decide whether to engage the Taliban or not.
  • The successive governments in Afghanistan, including the current Taliban regime, have sought relations with India which has upset Pakistan.
  • The Taliban want India to engage and help the country stabilise, but Pakistan resents that.
  • Catch-22 situation for India: If the Taliban regime is stabilised in Kabul without India’s assistance to the country, the more it is likely to do Pakistan’s bidding vis-à-vis India.
  • On the other hand, the more India helps the Taliban-led Afghanistan, the more Pakistan will up the ante in Kashmir.
  • This is a catch-22 situation that India finds itself in.
  • And yet, India has little choice but to engage the Taliban.

How Taliban victory led to change in Pakistan’s Kashmir policy

  • The earlier Pakistani willingness to be conciliatory towards India on Kashmir before and in the run-up to the Taliban takeover of Kabul in August 2021 seems to have disappeared for now.
  • This is at least partly due to the Pakistani triumphalism about the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.
  • Since then, violence data show that the backchannel understanding is withering away with violence in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) spiking along all three indicators albeit gradually.
  • Sentiments from across the border also indicate that the earlier Pakistani stand that it would accept the Indian decision to withdraw the special status to Kashmir in lieu of New Delhi restoring Statehood to Kashmir and allowing political activity in the State has now change.
  • It now demands that India fully reverts to the pre-August 5, 2019 position on Kashmir.

Way forward

  • No possibility of cooperation with China and Pak: Any possibility of India-Pakistan cooperation in Afghanistan would be very hard to achieve.
  • Beijing will play along; so will Iran and the Central Asian countries, for the most part.
  • Coordinate with other powers: For India, the options are to coordinate its Afghan policy with Moscow, Washington and the various western capitals while steadfastly engaging the Taliban.

Consider the question “Return of Taliban in Afghanistan and consequential geopolitical changes in the region are bound to have implications for India-Pakistan relation. Comment.” 


India’s advances to court the Taliban and attempts to evolve a regional consensus on Afghanistan might deteriorate India-Pakistan relations and pose challenges for India in Kashmir.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

Reopening of the Kartarpur Corridor Project


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Kartarpur Corridor, R Ravi

Mains level : Pilgrim tourism and diplomacy

The government is considering reopening the Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara corridor to Pakistan this week for Gurpurab or Prakash Parv.

Kartarpur Corridor

  • The Kartarpur corridor connects the Darbar Sahib Gurdwara in Narowal district of Pakistan with the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district in India’s Punjab province.
  • The name Kartarpur means “Place of God”.
  • The first guru of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, founded Kartarpur in 1504 AD on the right bank of the Ravi River.

Inception of the project

  • The Kartarpur Corridor was first proposed in early 1999 by then PMs Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Nawaz Sharif as part of the Delhi–Lahore Bus diplomacy.
  • The project is now compared to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, as it could help in easing tensions between the two countries.

Conditions for the pilgrimage (from Indian side)

  • Only Indians resident or overseas citizens can travel by corridor, Pakistanis cannot.
  • Children or aged persons of all ages can register to apply.
  • After 15 days of travel by corridor another registration can be done for second visit.
  • Registration can only be done online at a mentioned website of Indian Government

About Guru Nanak

  • Guru Nanak Dev (1469-1539) also referred to as Baba Nanak was the founder of Sikhism and is the first of the ten Sikh Gurus.
  • He advocated the ‘Nirguna’ form of Bhakti. He rejected sacrifices, ritual baths, image worship, austerities and the scriptures of both Hindus and Muslims.
  • He appointed one of his disciples, Angad, to succeed him as the preceptor (guru), and this practice was followed for nearly 200 years.
  • The fifth preceptor, Guru Arjan, compiled his hymns along with those of his four successors and also other religious poets, like Baba Farid, Ravidas, and Kabir, in the Adi Granth Sahib.


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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

Crises in Pakistan is an occasion to reflect on the long-term regional consequences


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Crises in Pakistan and India's approach towards it


Whether it can or should make a difference to Pakistan’s internal politics, India must pay greater attention to the internal dynamics of our most difficult neighbour and more purposefully engage a diverse set of actors in that polity.

India’s interventions in internal affairs of neighbours

  • Except for Pakistan, in most other countries of the subcontinent, India is drawn quickly into their internal political arguments.
  • Delhi has always exercised some influence on the outcomes of those contestations.
  • It is enough to note that India’s interventions are a recurring pattern in the subcontinent’s international relations.
  • Even when Delhi is reluctant to get into the weeds of these conflicts, the competing parties in the neighbourhood demand India’s intervention on their behalf.
  • All of the contestants, of course, resolutely oppose India’s meddling when it goes against them.
  • But Delhi has rarely been a decisive player in Pakistan’s internal politics.
  • Delhi’s hands-off attitude is surprising, given India’s huge stakes in the nature of Pakistan’s policies and their massive impact on regional security.

Current crises in Pakistan

  • Internal crises: Among the many challenges confronting Pakistan is the fresh breakdown in civil-military relations.
  • Pakistan’s economy is in a tailspin as it struggles to negotiate a stabilisation package with the International Monetary Fund.
  • The militant religious movement Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) has mounted a fresh march against the capital demanding the release of its arrested leader.
  • External crises: The internal crises are sharpened by worsening external conditions.
  • In Afghanistan, Pakistan has succeeded in restoring the Taliban to power.
  • The celebrations have not lasted too long; the long-awaited victory is turning sour.
  • The Arab Gulf states that have been fast friends of Pakistan are now tilting towards India.
  • Once a favourite partner of the West, Pakistan today faces tensions in its ties with the US and Europe.
  • More broadly, nuclear weapons and a powerful army seem unable to stop Pakistan’s relative decline in relation to not just India but also Bangladesh.
  • Pakistan’s economy is now 10 times smaller than that of India and is well behind Bangladesh.


  • Whether it can or should make a difference to Pakistan’s internal politics, India must pay greater attention to the internal dynamics of our most difficult neighbour and more purposefully engage a diverse set of actors in that polity.
  • For Delhi, it is always about narrow political arguments with Rawalpindi and Islamabad; it is as if the people of Pakistan do not exist.
  • For India, the crises in Pakistan should be an occasion to reflect on the long-term regional consequences of Pakistan’s internal turbulence.
  • It might be argued that that unlike elsewhere in the neighbourhood, Delhi’s leverage in Pakistan’s politics is limited. But it is by no means negligible.

Consider the question “For Delhi, it is always about narrow political arguments with Rawalpindi and Islamabad; it is as if the people of Pakistan do not exist. The depth of the current crises in Pakistan, however, should nudge India into overcoming this entrenched indifference. Comment.”


India looms so large in Pakistan’s mind space. For Delhi, it may be worth trying to turn that into influence over Pakistan’s policies if only at the tactical level and at the margins.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

How Pakistan Plays the world


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : SEATO and SENTO

Mains level : Paper 2- India-Pak relations

The article explains evolution of Pakistan’s approach towards forming alliances and maintaining strategic autonomy against the backdrop of U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

New dynamic Pakistan has to face

  • As the US withdraws its troops from Afghanistan, Pakistan is eager to build a relationship with Washington that is not tied to US stakes in Afghanistan.
  • Pakistan does not want to be totally alienated from U.S. in the new geopolitical jousting between the US and China.
  • How Pakistan copes with the new dynamic between the US and China as well as manages the deepening crisis in Afghanistan would be of great interest to India.

Striking the balance between autonomy and alliance

  • Autonomy is about the basic impulse for enhancing the degree of one’s freedom.
  • Alliances are about coping with real or perceived threats to one’s security.
  • Both are natural trends in international politics.
  • Joining an alliance does not mean ceding one’s sovereignty.
  • Within every alliance, there is a perennial tension between seeking more commitments from the partner in return for limiting one’s own.

Explaining Pakistan’s approach to alliances

  • Pakistan’s insecurities in relation to India meant it was eager for alliances.
  •  And as the Anglo-Americans scouted for partners in the crusade against global communism, Pakistan signed a bilateral security treaty with the US and joined the South East Asia Treaty Organisation and Central Treaty Organisation in the mid-1950s.
  • Rather than target Pakistan’s alliance with a West that was intensely hostile to Beijing in the 1950s, Chinese premier Zhou Enlai saw room to exploit Pakistan’s insecurities on India.
  • While Pakistan’s ties with the US went up and down, its relationship with China has seen steady expansion.
  • Pakistan’s relations with the US flourished  after the Soviet Union sent its troops into Afghanistan at the end of 1979.
  • The US and Pakistan reconnected in 2001 as Washington sought physical access and intelligence support to sustain its intervention in Afghanistan following the attacks on September 11.
  • Now the US wants Pakistan to persuade the Taliban to accept a peaceful transition to a new political order in Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s ability to adapt to shifting geopolitical trends

  • Pakistan worries that its leverage in U.S. will diminish once the US turns its back on Afghanistan and towards the Indo-Pacific.
  • Pakistan does not want to get in the Indo-Pacific crossfire between the US and China.
  • It would also like to dent India’s growing importance in America’s Indo-Pacific strategy.
  • India should not underestimate Pakistan’s agency in adapting to the shifting global currents.
  • Pakistan has been good at using its great power alliances to its own benefit.

Three problems that complicates Pakistan’s strategic autonomy

  • 1) Relative economic decline: Pakistan’s expected aggregate GDP at around $300 billion in 2021 is 10 times smaller than India’s.
  • 2) Obsession with Kashmir: Pakistan’s enduring obsessions with separating Kashmir from India, and extending its political sway over Afghanistan; both look elusive despite massive political investments by the Pakistan army.
  • Unsurprisingly, there is a recognition that Pakistan needs reorientation — from geopolitics to geoeconomics and permanent war with neighbours to peace of some sorts.
  • 3) Using religion as political instrument: Turning Islam into a political instrument and empowering religious extremism seemed clever a few decades ago.
  • However, today those forces have acquired a life of their own and severely constrain the capacity of the Pakistani state to build internal coherence and widen international options.


It will be unwise to rule out Pakistan’s positive reinvention; no country has a bigger stake in it than India. For now, though, Pakistan offers a cautionary tale on the dangers of squandering a nation’s strategic advantages — including a critical geopolitical location that it had inherited and the powerful partnerships that came its way.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

India’s South Asian opportunity


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : RCEP

Mains level : Paper 2- India-Pakistan relations and its impact on the region

India-Pakistan relations weigh down heavily on the SAARC. This affects the economic development of the region. The highlight opportunity for India and Pakistan to separate politics from economics.

Economic integration

  • There is a growing, but unstated, realisation that neither India nor Pakistan can wrest parts of Kashmir that each controls from the other.
  • A fair peace between India and Pakistan is not just good for the two states but for all the nations constituting the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
  • While SAARC has facilitated limited collaborations among its members, it has remained a victim of India-Pakistan posturing.
  • World Bank publication titled ‘A Glass Half Full’ conclude that there is explosive value to be derived from South Asian economic integration.
  • An economically transformed and integrated South Asian region could advantageously link up with China’s Belt and Road Initiative and even join the RCEP.

Important role of India

  • Collectively with a population of slightly over 1.9 billion, South Asia has a GDP (PPP) of $12 trillion.
  • However, India’s enjoys an overwhelming ‘size imbalance’ in South Asia.
  • The shares of India in the total land area, population, and real GDP of South Asia in 2016 are 62%, 75%, and 83%, respectively.
  • The two other big countries in South Asia are Pakistan and Bangladesh with shares in regional GDP of only 7.6% and 5.6%, respectively.
  • Given its size and heft, only India can take the lead in transforming a grossly under-performing region like South Asia.

Consider the question “How India-Pakistan relations affects the potential of SAARC? Examine the role both countries can play in the prosperity of the region through economic integration.”


This is the moment for India to think big and act big. But for that to happen, India needs to view peace with Pakistan not as a bilateral matter, but as essential and urgent, all the while viewing it as a chance of a lifetime, to dramatically transform South Asia for the better, no less.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

Explaining Pakistan’s flip-flop on trade with India


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Resuming India-Pakistan trade ties

The article highlights the key takeaways from Pakistan’s vacillations on resuming the trade ties even in the face of impending economic crisis.

U-turn on resuming trade

  • On March 31, Pakistan announced the decision to import cotton, yarn, and sugar from India.
  • However, it took a U-turn on that announcement about resuming trade ties.
  • This highlights the internal differences and the emphasis on politics over economy and trade.
  • It also signifies Pakistan cabinet’s grandstanding, linking the normalisation of ties with India to Jammu and Kashmir.

3 takeaways from the decision

1) Immediate economic needs

  • Pakistan’s decision was to import only three items from India, namely cotton, yarn and sugar.
  • It was based on Pakistan’s immediate economic needs and not designed as a political confidence-building measure to normalise relations with India.
  • For the textile and sugar industries in Pakistan, importing from India is imperative, practical and is the most economic.
  • This is because cotton and sugarcane production declined there by 6.9% and 0.4%, respectively.
  •  By early 2019, the sugar prices started increasing, and in 2020, there was a crisis due to shortage and cost.
  • Importing sugar from India would be cheaper for the consumer market in Pakistan.

2) Politics first

  • The second takeaway is the supremacy of politics over trade and economy, even if the latter is beneficial to the importing country.
  • The interests of its own business community and its export potential have become secondary.
  • However, Pakistan need not be singled out; this is a curse in South Asia, where politics play supreme over trade and economy.
  • The meagre percentage of intra-South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) trade and the failure of SAARC engaging in bilateral or regional trade would underline the above.

3) Emphasis on Jammu and Kashmir issue

  • The third takeaway is the emphasis on Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistan to make any meaningful start in bilateral relations.
  • This goes against what it has been telling the rest of the world that India should begin a dialogue with Pakistan.
  • There were also reports that Pakistan agreeing to re-establish the ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) was a part of this new strategy.

Consider the question: “Trade is unlikely to triumph over politics in South Asia; especially in India-Pakistan relations. This is a curse in South Asia, where politics play supreme over trade and economy.” Critically Examine.


Pakistan has been saying that the onus is on India to normalise the process. Perhaps, it is India’s turn to tell Islamabad that it is willing, but without any preconditions, and start with trade.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

Pakistan allows import of cotton, sugar from India


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : India-Pakistan Trade

Partially reversing a two-year-old decision to suspend all trade with India, Pakistan recently announced that it would allow the import of cotton and sugar from across the border.

Ever wonder why the neighbour next door suddenly wants to normalize all ties? Read this edition of ours:

India-Pakistan trade relations

  • Trade between the subcontinental neighbours has always been linked to their political interactions, given their tumultuous relationship.
  • For instance, India’s exports to Pakistan dropped by around 16 per cent to $1.82 billion in the 2016-17 financial years from $2.17 billion in 2015-16.
  • This coincided with the rise in tensions between the two countries following the terrorist attacks in Uri in 2016 and the surgical strikes by India against Pakistan-based militants.

How much is the volume of trade?

  • Trade between the two countries grew marginally in subsequent years despite continuing tensions.
  • India’s exports to Pakistan increased to nearly 6 per cent to $1.92 billion in 2017-18, and by around 7 per cent to $2.07 billion in 2018-19.
  • Imports from Pakistan, though much lower than India’s exports to the country, also increased by 7.5 per cent to $488.56 million in 2017-18 from $454.49 million in 2016-17.
  • Growth of imports from Pakistan slowed to around $494.87 million in 2018-19 — an increase of around 1 per cent — before political relations between the two countries took a turn for the worse in 2019.

Why did Pakistan ban trade with India?

  • Pakistan’s decision to suspend bilateral trade with India in August 2019 was primarily a fallout of India’s decision to scrap Article 370.
  • Pakistan called the move “illegal”, and took this trade measure as a way of showing its dissatisfaction.
  • However, an underlying reason for suspending trade between the two countries was also the 200 per cent tariff imposed by New Delhi on Pakistani imports.
  • This was a move that India implemented earlier that year after revoking its status as a Most Favoured Nation following the suicide bomb attack on the CRPF in Pulwama.
  • Pakistan’s announcement, coupled with India’s decision to revoke its MFN status and hike duties on its goods, was considered by some experts to be one of the most drastic measures ever taken in diplomatic tensions.

Why is Pakistan allowing cotton and sugar import now?

  • Textiles from Pakistan are its value-added export.
  • The proposal to lift the ban on cotton imports came in the backdrop of a shortfall in raw material for Pakistan’s textile sector, which has reportedly been facing issues due to a low domestic yield of cotton in the country.
  • On top of this, imports from other countries like the US and Brazil have reportedly been more expensive and takes longer to arrive in the country.

Why only these two commodities?

  • Even when we had a very small positive list (of goods for trade with Pakistan), agricultural commodities were always there in the list.
  • Cotton has been one of Pakistan’s major imports from India. In 2018-19, Pakistan imported $550.33 million worth of cotton from India.
  • When coupled with $457.75 million worth of organic chemicals, these products made up around half of its total imports from India.
  • Where sugar is concerned, trade experts feel it is a result of a long-standing interdependence between India and Pakistan over such agricultural commodities and a potential shortage in domestic supply.
  • If finally approved, cotton and sugar would be the second and third commodities allowed for export from India after Islamabad lifted the ban on medicine and related raw material imports during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

Indus Water Panel holds meeting


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Indus Waters Treaty, 1960

Mains level : Indus Waters Sharing

After a gap of more than two and a half years, the Indian and Pakistani delegations began the 116th Meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission.

Indus Waters Treaty, 1960

  • The Indus Waters Treaty is a water-distribution treaty between India and Pakistan, brokered by the World Bank signed in Karachi in 1960.
  • According to this agreement, control over the water flowing in three “eastern” rivers of India — the Beas, the Ravi and the Sutlej was given to India
  • The control over the water flowing in three “western” rivers of India — the Indus, the Chenab and the Jhelum was given to Pakistan
  • The treaty allowed India to use western rivers water for limited irrigation use and unrestricted use for power generation, domestic, industrial and non-consumptive uses such as navigation, floating of property, fish culture, etc. while laying down precise regulations for India to build projects
  • India has also been given the right to generate hydroelectricity through the run of the river (RoR) projects on the Western Rivers which, subject to specific criteria for design and operation is unrestricted.

Based on equitable water-sharing

  • Back in time, partitioning the Indus rivers system was inevitable after the Partition of India in 1947.
  • The sharing formula devised after prolonged negotiations sliced the Indus system into two halves.
  • Equitable it may have seemed, but the fact remained that India conceded 80.52 per cent of the aggregate water flows in the Indus system to Pakistan.
  • It also gave Rs 83 crore in pounds sterling to Pakistan to help build replacement canals from the western rivers. Such generosity is unusual of an upper riparian.
  • India conceded its upper riparian position on the western rivers for the complete rights on the eastern rivers. Water was critical for India’s development plans.

Significance of the treaty

  • It is a treaty that is often cited as an example of the possibilities of peaceful coexistence that exist despite the troubled relationship.
  • Well-wishers of the treaty often dub it “uninterrupted and uninterruptible”.
  • The World Bank, which, as the third party, played a pivotal role in crafting the IWT, continues to take particular pride that the treaty functions.

Need for a rethink

  • The role of India, as a responsible upper riparian abiding by the provisions of the treaty, has been remarkable.
  • However, of late, India is under pressure to rethink the extent to which it can remain committed to the provisions, as its overall political relations with Pakistan becomes intractable.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

Applying lessons from India-Bangladesh ties to relations with Pakistan


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Lessons to improve India-Pakistan relations

There is a sharp contrast between India’s relations with its neighbours two neighbours: Pakistan and Bangladesh. The article suggest drawing on the lessons from Indo-Bangladesh relations to mend Indo-Pak relations.

Indo-Bangladesh relations

  • Prime Minister of India will travel to Dhaka this week to commemorate Bangladesh’s Declaration of Independence from Pakistan 50 years ago.
  • From being one of the world’s poorest countries in 1972, Bangladesh is now racing to be in the world’s top 25 economies by the end of this decade.
  • It is also a time for deeper reflection — on the inability of the region to come to a closure on the two Partitions of the subcontinent, the first in 1947 and the second in 1971.
  • Delhi and Dhaka have started finding ways to overcome the tragedy of the Partition to chart a new course of bilateral and regional cooperation.
  • Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has provided strong leadership in advancing ties with India over the last decade and more.
  • Recently the Indian government mobilised enough political support to get a boundary settlement agreement with Bangladesh approved by the Parliament.
  • India also backed an international tribunal’s award resolving the maritime territorial dispute with Bangladesh.
  • The steady improvement in bilateral relations over the last decade has reflected in growing trade volumes, expanding trans-border connectivity, mutual cooperation on terrorism, and widening regional cooperation.

Applying lessons from Indo-Bangladesh relations to Indo-Pak relations

  • Positive changes in India’s relations with Pakistan have been elusive.
  • Hopes have been rekindled by the agreement late last month between the two military establishments to a ceasefire on the border and to address each other’s concerns.
  • Following are the lessons we can learn and apply productively to Indo-Pak relations

1) Importance of political stability

  • First lesson is the importance of political stability and policy continuity that have helped Delhi and Dhaka deepen bilateral ties over the last decade.
  • In contrast, the political cycles in Delhi and Islamabad have rarely been in sync.
  • Pakistan’s mainstream civilian leaders have all supported engagement with India.
  • In fact, it is the military that is yet to make up its collective mind.

2) Concerns for mutual security

  • Cooperation in countering terrorism built deep mutual trust between Dhaka and Delhi.
  • That trust helped deal with many complex issues facing the relationship.
  • In the case of Pakistan, its army has sought to use cross-border terrorism as a political lever to compel India to negotiate on Kashmir.
  • If sponsoring terror seemed a smart strategy in the past, it has now become the source of international political and economic pressure on Pakistan.

3) Depoliticise national economic interests

  • Delhi and Dhaka have steadily moved forward on issues relating to trade, transit and connectivity by dealing with them on their own specific merits.
  • Pakistan, on the other hand, has made sensible bilateral commercial cooperation and regional economic integration hostages to the Kashmir question.
  • It is not clear if Pakistan is ready to separate the two and expand trade ties while talking to India on Kashmir.

Consider the question “The steady improvement in bilateral relations with Bangladesh over the last decade can offer valuable lessons to be applied to India-Pakistan relations. In light of this, examine the factors that India and Pakistan need to focus on to achieve improvement in bilateral relations.”


Both India and Pakistan need to recognise the importance of pursuing the national well being through regional cooperation. That is exactly what Bangladesh has done in the last decade.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

Ceasefire between India and Pakistan.


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- What makes the recent ceasefire different from the past


Why it is different from the past

  • The February ceasefire has triggered widespread speculation about its durability, significance and implication for bilateral relations in general.
  • This agreement is different from the routine ceasefire assurances that the two sides made till January 2021.
  • What makes the February 2021 ceasefire different is its two distinct features:
  • First, this was a joint statement by the two DGsMO.
  • Second, unlike the previous declarations, the recent agreement mentions a specific date, i.e., the night of February 24-25, to begin the ceasefire.
  • The agreement is also path-breaking from a conflict management point of view.
  • The ceasefire is also significant because this helps India to defuse an ugly two-front situation and a feeling of being boxed in by an inimical Pakistan and an aggressive China.

Historical background of ceasefires with Pakistan

  • The Karachi agreement of 1949, which ended the first war between newly formed India and Pakistan, was the first ceasefire agreement between the two countries that created the India Pakistan boundary in Kashmir called the Ceasefire Line or CFL.
  • The United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) was mandated to monitor the ceasefire along the CFL.
  • Following the India-Pakistan war of 1971, the Suchetgarh Agreement of 1972 delineated the ‘line of control’ in Jammu and Kashmir thereby renaming the CFL as the LoC.
  • The 2003 agreement between the DGsMO, communicated through a telephone call between them, was a reiteration of the December 1971 war termination ceasefire.

Rules and norms required

  • A ceasefire requires a clearly articulated and mutually-agreed-upon set of rules and norms for effective observance along with an intent to observe them. 
  • The February ceasefire is an expression of such an intent, but without the rules and norms to enforce it.
  • The Simla Agreement or the Suchetgarh Agreement do not have those rules either.
  • The Karachi Agreement, on the other hand, has clearly laid down provisions on how to manage the CFL which, of course, was overtaken by the LoC.
  • Therefore, armed forces deployed on either side of the LoC in Kashmir often have to resort to Karachi Agreement to observe the ceasefire.
  • Now that the two DGsMO have declared a joint ceasefire, the next logical step is to arrive at a set of rules to govern that ceasefire.
  • An unwritten ceasefire, experiences from conflict zones around the world show, tend to break down easily and trigger tensions in other domains.

Role of back channels

  • What is also significant to note about the ceasefire agreement between the two DGsMO is that this was preceded by weeks.
  • Interestingly, the 2003 ceasefire was also preceded by discreet parleys between the heads of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan and the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) of India.
  • The 2003 CFA led to a sustained period of back channel talks on Kashmir which, by mid 2007, had almost finalised a deal to resolve the Kashmir conflict.
  • Ane key reason why the CFA held at least till 2008 was because there were parallel talks, along with holding fire on the LoC, on other outstanding bilateral issues, principally Kashmir.


While whether the 2021 CFA would prompt talks in other areas is unclear as of now, the possibility of piecemeal agreements to create durable stability bilaterally unless followed by progress in other domains remains to be seen.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

India, Pak, China must build on de-escalation


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- India-Pakistan-China relations

Three power, India, Pakistan and China need to take a new look at the factors underlying their relationship with each other. The article deals with this issue.

Hope for regional politics to turn a new leaf

  • The announcement by India and Pakistan of strict observance of all agreements, understandings and cease firing along the Line of Control is a welcome step.
  • It is premature to conclude what all this will amount to in the long term.
  • But if all three powers, China, Pakistan and India, can draw the appropriate lessons in humility, there is hope for regional politics to turn over a new leaf.

Lessons for India

  • First, the belligerent use of foreign policy in domestic politics has unintended effects on your international standing.
  • In 2019, the official rhetoric was promising India retaking PoK and putting more military pressure on Pakistan.
  • In contrast, the discourse on foreign policy since the Chinese pressure on the LAC has been one of marked sobriety scaling back all expectations of a flippant militarism.
  • Second, the standoff with China has brought home some stark realities. We can speculate on Chinese motives.
  •  The LAC standoff considerably released the pressure on Pakistan.
  • We were reminded that the LAC and LoC can be linked; that the zone around Kashmir was a trilateral and not a bilateral contest, and that India will need significant resources to deal with China.
  • In the matter of the CAA the talk of evicting Bangladeshis has been starkly checkmated by the need to placate Bangladesh, which is vital to our strategic interests.

Lessons for Pakistan

  • First, India now has enough weight in the international system that any attempts to internationalise Kashmir are a non-starter.
  • Second, the revocation of Article 370 did not unleash the kinds of fissures and cycle of violence within the Valley that Pakistan might have been hoping to exploit.
  • Third, the pandemic is a great opportunity for Pakistan to recognise that opening up to the South Asian region is in its interest in the long term than acting on the coattails of China.

Lessons for China

  • India may not have, in a literal sense, restored the status quo ante on the LAC, the fact of the matter is that it has stood up with enough firmness to send the signal that it will not be a pushover.
  • India signalled a resolve that Chinese military and economic hegemony can be resisted.
  • China cannot wish away considerable Indian power.
  • In fact, by concentrating India’s mind on the China challenge, it may have unwittingly done India a favour.

Way forward

  • So this moment can be a constructive one if everyone understands the one lesson in world politics: There are diminishing returns to belligerence.
  • With Pakistan, India should seize the moment and build on the de-escalation.
  • The pandemic offers an opportunity for greater economic cooperation.
  • Political establishments of both countries will have to think of what is a win-win political narrative they can legitimately offer their citizens.

Consider the question “If all three powers, China, Pakistan and India, can draw the appropriate lessons in humility, there is hope for regional politics to turn over a new leaf. Comment.


The region will be better off with a humility that tries to align them, rather than a hubris that exults in unilateral triumphalism.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

Ratle Hydroelectric Project


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Indus Water Treaty, Ratle Hydel Project

Mains level : Indus Water Treaty and its significance

The Centre has decided to go ahead with the long-pending 850-megawatt Ratle hydroelectric power project on the river Chenab in J&K Kishtwar district, despite objections raised by the Pakistan government over the same.

Tap to read more about Indus River System

Ratle Hydel Plant

  • It is a run-of-the-river hydroelectric power station currently under construction on the Chenab River, downstream of the village near Drabshalla in Kishtwar district of the Indian UT of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The project includes a 133 m (436 ft) tall gravity dam and two power stations adjacent to one another.
  • The installed capacity of both power stations will be 850 MW.
  • In June 2013, then PM Manmohan Singh laid the foundation stone for the dam.
  • Pakistan has frequently alleged that it violates the Indus Water Treaty.

What is the Indus Water Treaty?

  • The Indus Waters Treaty is a water-distribution treaty between India and Pakistan, brokered by the World Bank signed in Karachi in 1960.
  • According to this agreement, control over the water flowing in three “eastern” rivers of India — the Beas, the Ravi, and the Sutlej was given to India.
  • The control over the water flowing in three “western” rivers of India — the Indus, the Chenab, and the Jhelum was given to Pakistan
  • The treaty allowed India to use western rivers water for limited irrigation use and unrestricted use for power generation, domestic, industrial, and non-consumptive uses such as navigation, floating of property, fish culture, etc. while laying down precise regulations for India to build projects
  • India has also been given the right to generate hydroelectricity through the run of the river (RoR) projects on the Western Rivers which, subject to specific criteria for design and operation is unrestricted.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

Back in news: Kartarpur Corridor


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Kartarpur Corridor, Nirguna cult

Mains level : Piligrimage diplomacy between India and Pakisatan

Pakistan has decided to transfer the management of the Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara from a Sikh body to a separate trust, saying it runs against the religious sentiments of the Sikh community.

Try this PYQ:

Consider the following Bhakti Saints:

  1. Dadu Dayal
  2. Guru Nanak
  3. Tyagaraja

Who among the above was/were preaching when the Lodi dynasty fell and Babur took over?

(a) 1 and 3

(b) 2 only

(c) 2 and 3

(d) 1 and 2

Kartarpur Corridor

  • The Kartarpur corridor connects the Darbar Sahib Gurdwara in Narowal district of Pakistan with the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district in India’s Punjab province.
  • The first guru of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, founded Kartarpur in 1504 AD on the right bank of the Ravi River. The name Kartarpur means “Place of God”.
  • The corridor is being built to commemorate 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev, founder of Sikhism on 12th November 2019.

About Guru Nanak

  • Guru Nanak Dev (1469-1539) also referred to as Baba Nanak was the founder of Sikhism and is the first of the ten Sikh Gurus.
  • He advocated the ‘Nirguna’ form of Bhakti. He rejected sacrifices, ritual baths, image worship, austerities and the scriptures of both Hindus and Muslims.
  • He appointed one of his disciples, Angad, to succeed him as the preceptor (guru), and this practice was followed for nearly 200 years.
  • The fifth preceptor, Guru Arjan, compiled his hymns along with those of his four successors and also other religious poets, like Baba Farid, Ravidas and Kabir, in the Adi Granth Sahib.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

Gilgit-Baltistan: The land of peaks, streams and disputes


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Gilgit-Baltistan Region, CPEC

Mains level : China's vested interests in the Kashmir Valley

Seven decades after it took control of the region, Pakistan is moving to grant full statehood to Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), which appears as the northernmost part of the country in its official map.

Try this PYQ:

Q. If you travel through the Himalayas, you are likely to see which of the following plants naturally growing there?

  1. Oak
  2. Rhododendron
  3. Sandalwood

Select the correct option using the code given below:

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Pak occupation of GB

  • During the first Indo-Pak war of October 1947, Pakistan occupied 78,114 sq km of the land of Jammu and Kashmir, including the ‘Northern Areas’.
  • The Northern Areas is the other name of Gilgit-Baltistan that Pakistan has used for administrative reasons because it was a disputed territory.
  • This November, Pakistan will pave the way for fuller political rights for the roughly 1.2 million residents of the region, which will become the fifth State of Pakistan after Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

GB through history

  • One of the most mountainous regions in the world that is rich with mines of gold, emerald and strategically important minerals, GB is known for its extraordinary scenic beauty, diversity and ancient communities and languages.
  • The political nature of Gilgit-Baltistan has been directionless from the beginning.
  • Pakistan initially governed the region directly from the central authority after it was separated from ‘Azad Jammu and Kashmir’ on April 28, 1949.
  • On March 2, 1963, Pakistan gave away 5,180 sq km of the region to China, despite local protests.
  • Under Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the name of the region was changed to the Federally Administered Northern Areas (FANA).
  • Pakistan passed the Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self Governance Order in 2009, which granted “self-rule” to the ‘Northern Areas’.

Sense of alienation

  • GB is largely an underdeveloped region.
  • One of the main reasons for the rebellion in the region in 1947 was the sense of alienation that the population felt towards the Dogra rulers of Srinagar, who operated under the protection of the British government.

It’s geographical features

  • It’s home to K-2, the second tallest mountain in the world.
  • Tourism remains restricted by many factors, including military hostility, though the region has some of the ancient Buddhist sculptures and rock edicts.
  • It is also home to an old Shia community, which often finds itself subjected to persecution in Pakistan’s urban centres.
  • At present, a Governor and an elected Chief Minister rule the region, which is divided into Gilgit, Skardu, Diamer, Astore, Ghanche, Ghizer and Hunza-Nagar.

Indian protest

  • Following Pakistan’s announcement of holding the legislative election in Gilgit-Baltistan, India reiterated its territorial sovereignty over the region.
  • India has consistently opposed Pakistan’s activities in Gilgit-Baltistan. It also opposed the announcement of the commencement of the Diamer-Bhasha dam in July this year.
  • There have been local and international concerns as reports suggest priceless Buddhist heritage will be lost once the dam is built.
  • India has objected to the use of Gilgit-Baltistan to build and operate the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

GB resists

  • Gilgit-Baltistan in recent years has witnessed sporadic protests against Islamabad.
  • The protests were fuelled by the loss of land and livelihood of the locals to mega projects that are being championed by Pakistan and its international partners like China.
  • There is a growing feeling that full statehood will help the locals fight their battles inside Pakistan on an equal basis.
  • On the other hand, there is a widespread feeling that Pakistan, under pressure from China, is firming up its control over Gilgit-Baltistan, eventually creating conditions for the declaration of the LoC as the International Border.

China’s vested interest

  • Gilgit-Baltistan is important for China as it is the gateway for the CPEC.
  • Significantly, the ongoing stand-off with China at the LAC in Eastern Ladakh has a Gilgit-Baltistan connection.
  • The Darbuk-Shyok-DBO road of India is viewed as a tactical roadway to access the Karakoram Pass, which provides China crucial access to Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan.
  • Full statehood for the region may give Pakistan a political and legal upper hand and strengthen China’s position in the region.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

Indus Water Treaty turns 60


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Indus Water Treaty

Mains level : Reconsideration of IWT over cross border terrorism

September 19 this year marks the 60th anniversary of the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) between India and Pakistan.

Tap to read more about Indus River System:

Drainage System | Part 3

Indus Waters Treaty, 1960

  • The Indus Waters Treaty is a water-distribution treaty between India and Pakistan, brokered by the World Bank signed in Karachi in 1960.
  • According to this agreement, control over the water flowing in three “eastern” rivers of India — the Beas, the Ravi and the Sutlej was given to India
  • The control over the water flowing in three “western” rivers of India — the Indus, the Chenab and the Jhelum was given to Pakistan
  • The treaty allowed India to use western rivers water for limited irrigation use and unrestricted use for power generation, domestic, industrial and non-consumptive uses such as navigation, floating of property, fish culture, etc. while laying down precise regulations for India to build projects
  • India has also been given the right to generate hydroelectricity through the run of the river (RoR) projects on the Western Rivers which, subject to specific criteria for design and operation is unrestricted.

Based on equitable water-sharing

  • Back in time, partitioning the Indus rivers system was inevitable after the Partition of India in 1947.
  • The sharing formula devised after prolonged negotiations sliced the Indus system into two halves.
  • Equitable it may have seemed, but the fact remained that India conceded 80.52 per cent of the aggregate water flows in the Indus system to Pakistan.
  • It also gave Rs 83 crore in pounds sterling to Pakistan to help build replacement canals from the western rivers. Such generosity is unusual of an upper riparian.
  • India conceded its upper riparian position on the western rivers for the complete rights on the eastern rivers. Water was critical for India’s development plans.

India plays resilient

  • That the treaty has remained “uninterrupted” is because India respects its signatory and values trans-boundary Rivers as an important connector in the region in terms of both diplomacy and economic prosperity.
  • There have been several instances of terror attacks which could have prompted India, within the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, to withdraw from the IWT.
  • However, on each occasion, India chose not to do so.

Significance of the treaty

  • It is a treaty that is often cited as an example of the possibilities of peaceful coexistence that exist despite the troubled relationship.
  • Well-wishers of the treaty often dub it “uninterrupted and uninterruptible”.
  • The World Bank, which, as the third party, played a pivotal role in crafting the IWT, continues to take particular pride that the treaty functions.

Need for a rethink

  • The role of India, as a responsible upper riparian abiding by the provisions of the treaty, has been remarkable.
  • However, of late, India is under pressure to rethink the extent to which it can remain committed to the provisions, as its overall political relations with Pakistan becomes intractable.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

Striving for amicable relations with Pakistan


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- India-Pakistan relations

The article pitches for the resumption of India-Pakistan relations. But there are obstacles on both the side which come in the way of such resumption.

Pakistan and relations over Kashmir issue

  •  In July, the Turkish president had assured Pakistan’s parliament of his country’s support for Islamabad’s Kashmir stand.
  • More recently, Malaysia’s former Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad, has reiterated his backing for that stand.
  • Iran’s current negotiations with China do not necessarily mean alignment with the latter’s Kashmir policy.
  • Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries invited official criticism in Pakistan first time for their refusal to back Pakistan in its disputes with New Delhi.
  • Pakistan’s foreign minister had made a remark against Saudi Arabia over its reluctance to convene the meeting of IOC.
  • Given the long history of Saudi-Pakistani relations, such remarks suggest a high degree of frustration.

India’s vulnerabilities and relations with Pakistan

  • An excess of confidence and an unwillingness to think things through may be India’s vulnerabilities.
  • Army’s chief of staff made the statement this year, “If Parliament wants that area [PoK] should be ours at some stage, and if we get such orders, we will definitely act on those directions.”
  • Prime Minister made the statement regarding time of a week to 10 days to defeat the neighbouring country in case of war.

Picturing resumption of relations with Pakistan

  • In case of war, aware of the total devastation to follow, neither side in an India-Pakistan conflict will press the nuclear button.
  • On the other hand, it is also possible, before any war, to imagine negotiations that lead, not necessarily in that order, to a resumption of trade, travel and normal relations, the renunciation of terrorism, and the restoration of the democratic rights of the people of Kashmir.
  • While no realistic person today expects such talks, it is not a crime to picture them.


Amicable relations with Pakistan may seem remote but they are worth striving for.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

Explained: Pakistan-Saudi Rift


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : OIC

The rift between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia over Jammu and Kashmir is out in the open after a delegation led by Pak Army Chief was denied a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS).

Try this question:

Q. Discuss the new geopolitical realignment in the Arab world and India’s role in it.

Take a look after how the ties emerged and deteriorated:

Saudi-Pakistan ties: A Recap

  • The relationship between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan was most prominent during the 1971 war between India and Pakistan.
  • Saudi Arabia is also reported to have transferred arms and equipment including the loan of some 75 aircraft to Pakistan.
  • After the war, Saudi Arabia consistently supported the call for the return of Pakistan’s prisoners of war and for dropping the Dacca (Dhaka) Trial against 195 of them.
  • After the war, Saudi Arabia gave loans to Pakistan enabling it to buy arms worth about $1 million by 1977, including F-16s and Harpoon missiles from the US.
  • Saudi oil and dollars have kept Pakistan’s economy on its feet after sanctions following the nuclear tests.
  • Over the last two decades, Saudi Arabia has provided oil on deferred payments to Pakistan whenever it ran into economic difficulty.
  • Saudi funding of madrasas has also led to their mushrooming, later giving rise to religious extremism.
  • In 1990, Pakistan sent its ground forces to defend Saudi Arabia against Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.

Alignment over Kashmir

  • The alignment over Kashmir at the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) crystallized since 1990 when the insurgency in J&K began.
  • While the OIC has issued statements over the last three decades, it became a ritual of little significance to India.
  • Last year, after India revoked Article 370 in Kashmir, Pakistan lobbied with the OIC for its condemnation of India’s move.
  • To Pakistan’s surprise, Saudi Arabia and the UAE issued statements that were nuanced rather than harshly critical of New Delhi.
  • Over the last year, Pakistan has tried to rouse the sentiments among the Islamic countries, but only a handful of them — Turkey and Malaysia — publicly criticised India.

The Saudi perspective

  • Saudi Arabia’s change in position has been a gradual process under Crown Prince MBS.
  • As it seeks to diversify from its heavily oil-dependent economy, it sees India as a valuable partner in the region.
  • New Delhi, for its part, has wooed the Arab world over the last six years.
  • From Saudi Arabia to the UAE, it worked the diplomatic levers through high-level visits and dangled opportunities for investment and business
  • MBS, who is looking to invest in India, has taken a realistic view, along with UAE’s crown prince Mohammed bin Zayed.

Energy connection to India

  • Saudi Arabia is India’s fourth-largest trade partner (after China, US and Japan) and a major source of energy: India imports around 18% of its crude oil requirement from the Kingdom.
  • Saudi Arabia is also a major source of LPG for India.
  • And, with India stopping oil imports from Iran due to the threat of US sanctions, Saudi Arabia is key in this respect as well.

Saudi-Pakistan tension

The tension between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan has been brewing for some time.

  • In 2015, Pakistan’s Parliament decided not to support the Saudi military effort to restore an internationally recognised government in Yemen.
  • Later, Pakistan’s then army chief General Raheel Sharif led the Saudi-led Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism, comprising 41 Muslim countries.
  • In February 2019, after the Pulwama terror attack, it was Saudi Arabia and the UAE that pulled their weight to get Wing Commander Abhinandan released, apart from the US.
  • The Saudi Crown Prince visited Pakistan and India at that time and made it clear that he valued economic opportunities. He did not wade into the Kashmir issue in India or the terrorism issue in Pakistan.

Frustration over Kashmir

A year after Article 370 was revoked, Qureshi belled the cat.

  • Pak accuses that Saudi Arabia has failed to deliver on the Kashmir and OIC had not played a leadership role in backing Pakistan against India.
  • This angered Saudi Arabia, which in November 2018 had announced a $6.2 billion loan package for Pakistan.
  • The package included $3 billion in loans and an oil credit facility amounting to $3.2 billion.
  • Riyadh demanded the return of the $3 billion loans and refused to sell oil to Islamabad on deferred payment. Pakistan immediately returned $1 billion, displaying the rift.
  • But, in the current economic situation, Pakistan is unable to pay the next tranche.
  • What has also angered Saudi Arabia is that Pakistan has been trying to pander to Turkey and Malaysia.

The China factor

  • Pakistan and China have called themselves “all-weather allies” and “iron brothers” (during FMs meet).
  • Over the last year, Beijing has supported Pakistan on Kashmir, raising the issue at the UN Security Council thrice.
  • China has also emerged as Pakistan’s biggest benefactor through its funding of the CPEC.
  • Saudi Arabia too has invested in CPEC projects, to the tune of $10 billion, but Pakistan now looks towards Beijing for both diplomatic and economic support.

Implications for India

  • Saudi’s silence on J&K as well as CAA-NRC has emboldened the Indian government.
  • At a time when India and China are locked in a border standoff, India has to be wary of Pakistan and China teaming up.
  • But with Saudi Arabia in its corner, for now, it may have leverage over Pakistan — Riyadh would not want a conflict and regional instability.
  • What is key to India’s calculus is that the Pakistan-China and the Pakistan-Saudi axes are not fused together at the moment: It is not a Saudi-Pakistan-China triangle.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

Back in news: Indus Water Treaty (IWT)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Indus River Systems

Mains level : Indus Water Treaty and its significance

India has refused a request by Pakistan to hold a meeting on issues around the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) at the Attari check post near the India-Pakistan border.

The IWT has been in existence since 1960, and reached a flash point in the aftermath of the Uri attacks in 2016 with PM declaring that “blood and water couldn’t flow together”.

About Indus Waters Treaty, 1960

  • The IWT is a water-distribution treaty between India and Pakistan, brokered by the World Bank signed in Karachi in 1960.
  • According to this agreement, control over the water flowing in three “eastern” rivers of India — the Beas, the Ravi and the Sutlej was given to India
  • The control over the water flowing in three “western” rivers of India — the Indus, the Chenab and the Jhelum was given to Pakistan
  • The treaty allowed India to use western rivers water for limited irrigation use and unrestricted use for power generation, domestic, industrial and non-consumptive uses such as navigation, floating of property, fish culture, etc. while laying down precise regulations for India to build projects
  • India has also been given the right to generate hydroelectricity through the run of the river (RoR) projects on the Western Rivers which, subject to specific criteria for design and operation is unrestricted.

Talks stalled on key projects

  • Among the key points on the table was evolving a procedure to solve differences on technical aspects governing the construction of the Ratle run-of-the-river (RoR) project on the Chenab in the Kishtwar district.
  • India has called for the appointment of a ‘neutral’ party while Pakistan favours a Court of Arbitration to agree upon a final resolution on the design parameters of this hydropower project.
  • According to the IWT, India has the right to build RoR projects on the three ‘western’ rivers — the Chenab, Jhelum and Indus — provided it does so without substantially impeding water flow in Pakistan downstream.
  • Pakistan believes that the project’s current design does pose a serious impediment and has told the World Bank that it wants a Court of Arbitration (CoA) set up to decide on the issue.
  • India says this is only a technical issue and mutually solvable.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

Pakistan’s new Political Map


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NA

Mains level : India-Pakistan border disputes

Recently Pakistani PM announced a new political map of Pakistan.

Do you think that the recent launch of new political maps depicting Indian territories by Pakistan would make any difference on the international community’s stance on Kashmir?

A chain reaction

  • With this, Pakistan became the third country to launch a new political map after India and Nepal did the same.
  • India had reiterated its territorial claims in J&K, and Ladakh with the new map; this triggered a reaction from Nepal which contested Indian claims in the Kalapani region of Pithoragarh district.

What are the features of the new map?

  • The new political map of Pakistan has claimed the entire region of Jammu and Kashmir stretching all the way to the edge of Ladakh.
  • The map also claims Junagarh and Manavadar, a former princely State and territory, respectively that are part of present-day Gujarat.
  • Pakistan also claimed the entire territory and water bodies that fall in the Sir Creek region in the westernmost part of India.

Defiance of old agreements

  • The territorial claims of Pakistan are, however, of a far greater extent and challenge many of the past understandings and treaties.
  • This clearly runs counter to the Simla Agreement which treated Kashmir as a bilateral matter.
  • It leaves out a claim line at the eastern end of J&K indicating Pakistan’s willingness to make China a third party in the Kashmir issue.

How different is it from previous ones?

  • A similar map has been part of school textbooks of Pakistan for many years which highlights the territorial aspiration of Pakistan over the northern part of the subcontinent.
  • The document also maintains bits of reality on the ground as it shows the Line of Control in Kashmir in a red-dotted line.
  • The map may be used to provide legal cover for some of Islamabad’s territorial ambitions, especially in Kashmir and Sir Creek.

A Cartographical warfare

  • The map is likely to lead to changes in Pakistan’s position on territorial disputes with India.
  • By demanding the entire J&K region, Pak is changing the main features of its Kashmir discourse as it includes the Jammu region prominently.
  • The inclusion of Junagarh and Manavadar opens fundamental issues of territorial sovereignty of India.
  • Manavadar, a princely territory, joined India on February 15, 1948, and Indian troops marched into Junagarh in September that year incorporating it into Indian Territory.
  • By normalizing Islamabad’s claims over these former princely territories, Pakistan is most likely to assert its rights over the former princely State of Hyderabad as well.

What does Pakistan plan to gain by this exercise?

  • Sir Creek is a collection of water bodies that extend from the Arabian Sea deep inside the territory of Kutch and is rich in biodiversity and mangrove forests.
  • India’s position on Sir Creek is based on the Kutch arbitration case of 1966-69.
  • The new map can be used to reassert Pakistan’s claims regarding the Rann which it had lost in the arbitration conducted in Geneva.
  • India’s position regarding Sir Creek is based on the fact that the arbitration had granted the entire Rann and its marshy areas to India while leaving the solid land across the Rann to Pakistan.
  • By demanding the demarcation to shift towards the eastern bank, Pakistan appears to be going back also on the spirit of the Rann of Kutch arbitration where the overwhelming evidence of maps supported India’s claims.

Are there any claims on its western borders?

  • The map is silent about territorial claims in the west and northwest of Pakistan.
  • It indicates Islamabad’s acceptance of the Durand Line as the border with Afghanistan.
  • The reality on the ground, however, shows problems that continue to haunt Pakistan on that front as well where law and order have been difficult to maintain because of free movement of armed fighters.
  • A deadly clash between Afghan civilians and Pakistani troops near its Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province is a usual discourse.
  • The resultant situation has placed Afghan and Pakistani troops in a confrontational position.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

Azad Pattan Hydel Project


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Azad Pattan hydel project

Mains level : Dams in PoK

Pakistan and China have signed an agreement for the 700 MW Azad Pattan hydel power project on the Jhelum River in Sudhoti district of PoK.

Try this question from CSP 2019:

Q.What is common to the places known as Aliyar, Isapur and Kangsabati?

(a) Recently discovered uranium deposits

(b) Tropical rain forests

(c) Underground cave systems

(d) Water reservoirs

Azad Pattan hydel project

  • The project is a run-of-the-river scheme with a reservoir located near Muslimabad village, 7 km upstream from the Azad Pattan bridge, in district Sudhnoti, one of the eight districts of PoK.
  • It is one of five hydropower schemes on the Jhelum.
  • Upstream from Azad Pattan are the Mahl, Kohala, and Chakothi Hattian projects; Karot is downstream. Like Kohala and Azad Pattan, Karot too is being developed under the CPEC framework.
  • The project will comprise a 90-metre-high dam, with a 3.8 sq km reservoir.
  • The $ 1.5-billion project is the second power project under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Other projects in PoK

  • Kohala project is a 1,124 MW hydel project that will come upon the Jhelum near Muzaffarabad. This project is one of the biggest investments by China in PoK.
  • The Karot Hydropower station, the third project being executed by China on the Jhelum is on the boundaries of Kotli district in PoK and Rawalpindi district in Pakistan’s Punjab province.
  • Two hydel projects are planned in Gilgit Baltistan – Phandar Hydro Power, and Gilgit KIU.
  • Most recent in the news was Diamer-Bhasha dam in the PoK.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

India-Pak cooperation against Locusts Attack


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Locusts invasion

Mains level : Locusts invasion and its threats

As another locust swarm comes from Pakistan, the spotlight is again on the India-Pakistan dynamic that has come into play.

Do you know?

The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) believes locusts have decimated close to 70,000 hectares of crops in Kenya, 30,000 hectares in Ethiopia and 42,000 hectares of crops in the state of Rajasthan.
Just so you can perhaps assess the kind of damage we are talking about here. A large swarm can eat as much as about 35,000 people in one day 😀 !

What are Locusts?

  • The desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria) is a short-horned grasshopper that is innocuous while it is in a “solitary phase” and moving about independently.
  • These winged insects differ from normal hoppers and become dangerous only when their populations build up rapidly and the close physical contact in crowded conditions triggers behavioural changes.
  • They, then, enter the “gregarious phase”, by grouping into bands and forming swarms that can travel great distances (up to 150 km daily), while eating up every bit of vegetation on the way.
  • If not controlled at the right time, these insect swarms can threaten the food security of countries.

India reaches out to Pak

  • The Ministry of External Affairs said that it has reached out to Pakistan for cooperation, and is awaiting their response.
  • Despite the ups and downs in the bilateral relationship, cooperation on the locust warning system has survived the wars, terrorist attacks, and political turmoil.

History of outbreaks in India

  • Records suggest that since the beginning of the 19th century, there have been at least eight “outbreaks” in India from 1812 to 1889, and a ninth in 1896-1897.
  • According to the history of the Locust Warning Office published by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), there were “serious invasions” of locusts in India every few years during the 1900s.
  • A “five-year invasion” from 1926 to 1931 is estimated to have damaged crops worth Rs 2 crore (about $100 million at today’s prices).
  • The princely states and provinces had their own structures to deal with this, but there was no coordination.

The Locust Warning Organization (LWO)

  • After the 1926-32 “invasion”, the British Indian government-sponsored a research scheme, starting in 1931, which led to the permanent Locust Warning Organization (LWO) in 1939.
  • It had its headquarters in New Delhi and a substation in Karachi.
  • In 1941, a conference of princely states in desert areas and provinces affected by locusts was held.
  • Its role was expanded in 1942, and in 1946 a bureaucratic structure was put in place.

Beginning of cooperation

  • Iran too suffered locust attacks, in 1876, and in 1926-1932.
  • Apparently the first case of collaboration between countries in the region occurred in 1942 when a delegation from India helped with locust control work in southwest Persia.
  • Over the next two years, Indian help was also provided to Oman and Persia.
  • This was followed by the first conference within the region on Desert Locust, which was held in Tehran in 1945 and involved Iran, India, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
  • A second conference took place in 1950 also in Tehran with Pakistan participating.

Bringing in Pakistan

  • In the 1950s, India and Iran cooperated and Pakistan provided two aircraft for locust surveys in Saudi Arabia.
  • Following another attack during 1958-61, a decision was taken to group Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India together and the FAO Desert Locust commission was formed in 1964.
  • The commission held annual sessions skipped in 1965 and 1999 but held in 1971.
  • Even in the last six years when the relationship between India and Pakistan has deteriorated, it has been held in 2014, 2016 and 2018.
  • The meetings are attended by locust control experts, with no diplomats.

India and Pakistan

  • In 1977, the two countries began to meet on the border.
  • From 1991 to 2003, special border surveys took place during the summer, undertaken by locust control officers in their respective countries.
  • Joint border meetings have taken place every year since 2005 till 2019, except in 2011. This has been despite every diplomatic strain; including the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
  • Arrangements are made in advance and protocols are followed for crossing the border.
  • While politics and diplomacy is kept out of the technical discussions, locust control authorities feel that one of the more difficult challenges faced by the commission is that of “insecurity and sensitivities” in the region.

Also read:

Risk of Early Locusts Attacks: A new concern

Try this:

Q. Time and again normal ocean cycles got more pronounced or disrupted, resulting in all kinds of unintended consequences, like an ever-increasing domino effect of locust attacks in Asia and the Indian Sub Continent. We need to understand these links if we are to plan effectively for climate change mitigation and adaptation. Discuss. (250W)

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

Diamer-Bhasha Dam in Pak-occupied Kashmir (PoK)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Diamer-Bhasha Dam

Mains level : India-Pakistan border disputes

Pakistan government has signed a contract with a joint venture of a Chinese state-run firm for the construction of the Diamer-Bhasha dam in the PoK.

Make a note of major dams in India along with the rivers, terrain, major Wildlife sanctuaries and national parks incident to these rivers.

Diamer-Bhasha Dam

  • Diamer-Bhasha Dam is a concreted-filled gravity dam, in the preliminary stages of construction, on the River Indus between Kohistan district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Diamer district in Gilgit Baltistan region of PoK.
  • The dam will have a gross storage capacity of 8.1 Million Acre Feet (MAF) and power generation capacity of 4500 MW.
  • The eight Million Acre Feet (MAF) reservoir with 272-metre height will be the tallest roller compact concrete (RCC) dam in the world.
  • It will have a spillway, 14 gates and five outlets for flushing out silt.
  • The diversion system involves two tunnels and a diversion canal — all three having 1 km length each.
  • The bridge — a box girder structure — under the contract will be constructed downstream of the dam structure while the 21MW power plant will be built to meet the energy requirements of the project during construction.

Why is this dam being built?

  • The project is designed to serve as the main storage dam of the country, besides Mangla and Tarbela dams, and its storage would be helpful for alleviating flood losses.
  • The project is estimated to help alleviate acute irrigation shortage in the Indus basin irrigation system caused by progressive siltation of the existing reservoirs.
  • It aims to reduce the intensity, quantum and duration of floods and reduce the magnitude and frequency of floods in the River Indus downstream.

Issues with the Dam

  • The dam is located in the Gilgit-Baltistan region which is an Indian territory illegally occupied by Pakistan.
  • India has consistently conveyed her protest and shared concerns with both China and Pakistan on all such projects in the Indian territories under Pakistan’s illegal occupation.
  • In the past too, India has opposed projects jointly taken up by Pakistan and China in PoK as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

Explained: Sir Creek Dispute


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Sir Creek

Mains level : Disputes over Sir Creek



Former Pakistan Minister recalls plan for Sir Creek pact.

Sir Creek

  • Sir Creek is a 96-km strip of water disputed between India and Pakistan in the Rann of Kutch marshlands. Originally named Ban Ganga, Sir Creek is named after a British representative.
  • The Creek opens up in the Arabian Sea and roughly divides the Kutch region of Gujarat from the Sindh Province of Pakistan.

What’s the dispute?

  • The dispute lies in the interpretation of the maritime boundary line between Kutch and Sindh. Before India’s independence, the provincial region was a part of the Bombay Presidency of British India.
  • But after India’s independence in 1947, Sindh became a part of Pakistan while Kutch remained a part of India.
  • Pakistan claims the entire creek as per paragraphs 9 and 10 of the Bombay Government Resolution of 1914 signed between then the Government of Sindh and Rao Maharaj of Kutch.
  • The resolution, which demarcated the boundaries between the two territories, included the creek as part of Sindh, thus setting the boundary as the eastern flank of the creek popularly known as Green Line.
  • But India claims that the boundary lies mid-channel as depicted in another map drawn in 1925, and implemented by the installation of mid-channel pillars back in 1924.

The Genesis 

  • The marshland of Sir Creek first became disputed in the early 20th century when the Rao of Kutch and the Chief Commissioner of Sindh Province of British India, due to different perceptions of the boundaries, laid claims over the creek.
  • The case was taken up by then Government of Bombay, which conducted a survey and mandated its verdict in 1914.
  • This verdict has two contradictory paragraphs, which make the India and Pakistan contenders on the same issue.
  • Paragraph 9 of this verdict states that the boundary between Kutch and Sindh lies ‘to the east of the Creek,’ (Green Line) which effectively implied that the creek belonged to Sindh and, therefore, to Pakistan.
  • On the other hand, Paragraph 10 states that since Sir Creek is navigable most of the year.
  • According to international law and the Thalweg principle, a boundary can only be fixed in the middle of the navigable channel, which meant that it has be divided between Sindh and Kutch, and thereby India and Pakistan.
  • India has used this para to consistently argue that the boundary needs to be fixed in the middle of the creek.
  • Pakistan, however, claims that Sir Creek isn’t navigable but India claims that since it’s navigable in high tide, the boundary should be drawn from the mid channel.

What’s the importance of Sir Creek?

  • Apart from the strategic location, Sir Creek’s core importance is fishing resources. Sir Creek is considered to be among the largest fishing grounds in Asia.
  • Another vital reason for two countries locking horns over this creek is the possible presence of great oil and gas concentration under the sea, which are currently unexploited thanks to the impending deadlock on the issue.

UNCLOS supports India’s stand

  • If Thalweg principle is to be upheld, Pakistan would lose a considerable portion of the territory that was historically part of the province of Sindh.
  • Acceding to India’s stance would mean shifting of the land/sea terminus point several kilometres to the detriment of Pakistan, leading in turn to a loss of several thousand square kilometres of its Exclusive Economic Zone under the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

War in 1965 and tribunal

  • After the 1965 war, British Prime Minister Harold Wilson successfully persuaded both countries to end hostilities and set up a tribunal to resolve the dispute.
  • The verdict of the tribunal came in 1968 which saw Pakistan getting 10% of its claim of 9,000 km (3,500 sq. miles).
  • Since 1969, 12 rounds of talks have been held over the issue of Sir Creek, but both sides have denied reaching any solution.
  • The region fell amid tensions in 1999 after the Pakistan Navy shot down a MiG-21 fighter plane, but the last rounds of talks were held in 2012. Since then it’s been status quo.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

[op-ed snap] Same country, different script


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 2-Foreign relations with Pakistan, Issues and need to resume the talks.


Pakistan is changing significantly, which is good for itself and its neighbour as well.

Changing Pakistan

  • Major stakeholders in favour of peace: The civil society, the political parties, and even the military establishment of Pakistan have come to favour peaceful and cooperative relations with India.
  • Both the power-centre on the same page: Both Islamabad and Rawalpindi, Pakistan’s two centres of power, are now on the same page in seeking “honourable peace” with New Delhi on the basis of “sovereign equality”.
    • Heavy price paid by Pakistan: There is a broad consensus in Pakistani society and polity that their country has paid a very heavy price by supporting the forces of Islamist extremism and terrorism.
    • The futility of using terrorism as foreign policy: There is also consensus that using terrorism for achieving mistaken foreign policy ends in Afghanistan and India.

Conducive conditions for dialogues

  • Four factors have influenced the welcome winds of change in Pakistan.
  • First-Realisation that Pakistan has suffered a lot:
    • Harm at home and to the global image: There is the across-the-board realisation that Pakistan has suffered a lot, both domestically and in terms of damage to its global image, by supporting religious extremism and terrorism.
    • A large number of casualties: Terrorists have killed a shockingly large number of civilians -certainly far many more than in India. Several thousand soldiers have lost their lives in the army’s “war on terror”-more than the number of casualties in all the wars with India.
    • The threat of FATF blacklisting: Furthermore, Islamabad is under relentless pressure from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to act decisively and irreversibly against terrorist organisations.
  • Second-Decrease in religious radicalisation in Pakistan
    • The decrease in the financial support to radicalism: What has contributed to the diminished importance of religious radicalism is also the shrinking inflow of petrodollars from Saudi Arabia and Gulf countries that promoted this agenda.
    • The ideological influence of religious radicalisation on Pakistan’s civil society is clearly declining.
    • Change in Saudi Government Policy: Export of Wahhabism is no longer a foreign policy priority of the Saudi Arabian government.
    • Changing policies in UAE: The United Arab Emirates has gone a step further, under the leadership of Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, it is pursuing inter-religious tolerance with a zeal that has surprised Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
  • Third-Interest of China
    • Rise of China as an economic and security partner: The third factor is China, which has emerged as Pakistan’s most important economic and security partner.
    • The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and BRI: The flagship projects under Beijing’s BRI has begun to modernise Pakistan’s infrastructure spectacularly, but its security is which could be threatened by terrorism is also the concern for China.
    • Connection with China’s Xinjiang Province: China has urged Pakistan’s ruling establishment to take firm steps to curb the activities of Islamist groups because they can easily foment trouble in China’s Muslim-majority Xinjiang province.
    • India-China relation factor: Beijing is also engaged in a steady effort to improve relations with New Delhi, in recognition of India’s rising economic and geopolitical stature in Asia and globally.
    • Possibility of India-China-Pakistan cooperation: China’s President Xi Jinping even mooted cooperation among China, India and Pakistan at Mamallapuram summit.
  • Fourth-Military establishment in favour of peace.
    • The military establishment seems to be fully convinced of the need for normalisation of India-Pakistan
    • Opening of Kartarpur Sahib Corridor: The opening of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor, perhaps the greatest confidence-building measure between the two countries since 1947, is almost entirely due to Gen. Bajwa’s personal commitment to the project.
    • The economic crisis in Pakistan: Bajwa’s is also said to be convinced of the need to open the doors for economic and trade cooperation between the two countries given a serious economic crisis Pakistan is going through.
    • Discussion on the Kashmir issue: The Pakistan Army may also be ready to discuss a solution to the Kashmir issue on the basis of a formula Gen. Pervez Musharraf had discussed with PMs Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Dr Manmohan Singh.


India needs to seize the opportunity to resume the talks with Pakistan on all the contentious issues and try to resolve the disputes so that the improved relations could help both the countries and the neighbouring countries.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

India-Pakistan Trade


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Cross LoC trade

Tensions between India and Pakistan in 2019 have reduced the already low volumes of trade between the two countries to near zero.

India-Pakistan trade, in the beginning

  • In 1948-49, about 56% of Pakistan’s exports were to India, and 32% of its imports came from India.
  • From 1948-65, India and Pakistan used a number of land routes for bilateral trade; there were eight customs stations in Pakistan’s Punjab province and three customs checkpoints in Sindh.
  • India remained Pakistan’s largest trading partner until 1955-56. Between 1947 and 1965, the countries signed 14 bilateral agreements on trade, covering avoidance of double taxation, air services, and banking, etc.
  • In 1965, nine branches of six Indian banks were operating in Pakistan.

Close to vanishing

  • Following the terrorist attack on the CRPF convoy in Pulwama in February, India withdrew Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status for Pakistan and raised customs duty on Pakistani imports to 200% .
  • In April, India suspended cross-LoC trade to stop the misuse of this route by Pakistan-based elements.
  • Pakistan on its part closed its airspace to India for a prolonged period.
  • The decisions by both countries, while targeted at hurting the neighbour, have severely impacted the livelihoods of individuals and families involved in cross-border trading activities.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

[op-ed snap] Seize the summit


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Relations with Pakistan and need to resume the talks to resolve the issues.


India announced that it will invite all heads of government of Shanghai Co-operation Organisation member countries, including Pakistan.

Significance of the invitation

  • First since 2014: The summit will assume significance should Pakistan Prime Minister accept the invitation.
    • As it will be the first by a head of government or state of that country to India since former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif attended the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister in 2014.
  • Hopes belied: Nothing came from that meeting and hopes created by the invitation were belied.
  • Failed attempts to engage: Attempts to engage after that failed, including at a previous SCO summit at Ufa in 2015.

Latest events that further reduced the engagement

  • Pulwama attack: First, there was the February 2019 Pulwama attack, India’s Balakot response, and Pakistan’s counter-response.
  • Article 370: After India did away with Jammu & Kashmir’s special status, India and Pakistan have downgraded even their diplomatic presence in each other’s countries.
  • Both the countries withdrew their high commissioners after the Article 370 issue.
  • Trade stopped completely: Bilateral trade, which had managed to survive earlier shocks to relations, has stopped completely.

Opportunities presented by SCO summit

  • “Inputs of all stakeholders”: In deciding whether to accept the invitation, the Pakistan PM will have to take into consideration “inputs of all stakeholders”.
  • A polite way of saying that the final yes or no will rest with the Pakistan Army.
  • A chance for a high-level meeting: Even if Imran Khan stays away and sends a minister instead, it would still be a chance for a high-level bilateral meeting.
  • The world wants India and Pakistan to engage: The world wants India and Pakistan to engage, and this was evident in the way the UNSC refused to take up the Kashmir issue, saying it was not the forum for it.
  • Opportunity for India to make a start: India has declared several times recently that it wants to peel away from historical foreign policy baggage.
    • India should make a start with Pakistan by making it possible for such a meeting to take place.
  • Making acceptance of invitation easier: India can make it easier for the Pakistan Prime Minister to accept the invitation.
  • Resuming trade: A start could be made by resuming trade, which has ground to a dead halt
  • Sending High Commissioner back: India can start by sending India’s High Commissioner back to his office in Islamabad.


The SCO summit presents an opportunity for both the countries to end the long hiatus in the relations which is essential for both the countries to resolve the long-standing issues and progress of both the countries.




Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

Non-Nuclear Aggression Agreement


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Non-Nuclear Aggression Agreement

Mains level : Non-Nuclear Aggression Agreement

Pakistan has recently shared a list of its nuclear installations with India under the said bilateral agreement.

Exchange of list of nuclear installations

  • The list was handed over to an Indian High Commission in accordance with Article-II of the Agreement on Prohibition of Attacks against Nuclear Installations and Facilities between Pakistan and India.
  • It was signed on December 31, 1988.
  • The agreement contains the provision that both countries inform each other of their nuclear installations and facilities on 1st of January every year.

What is Non-Nuclear Aggression Agreement?

  • The Non-nuclear aggression agreement is a bilateral and nuclear weapons control treaty between India and Pakistan, on the reduction (or limitation) of nuclear arms.
  • Both pledged not to attack or assist foreign powers to attack on each’s nuclear installations and facilities.
  • The treaty was drafted in 1988, and signed by the PM Rajiv Gandhi and his counterpart Benazir Bhutto on 21 December 1988; it entered into force on January 1991.
  • The treaty barred its signatories to carry out a surprise attack (or to assist foreign power to attack) on each other’s nuclear installations and facilities.
  • Starting in January 1992, India and Pakistan have annually exchanged lists of their respective military and civilian nuclear-related facilities.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

Pakistan Suspends Exchange of Postal Mails


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Universal Postal Union (UPU)

Mains level : India-Pakistan relations in recent times

  • In a unilateral decision, Pakistan has stopped exchange of postal mails with India since August 27.
  • Pakistan’s decision was taken without any prior notice and is in direct contravention of international norms.

Who regulates postal exchange between one country and another?

  • The United Nations’ Universal Postal Union (UPU) frames rules for international mail exchange, and fixes rates for international postal services.
  • The UPU has 192 member-countries and is headquartered in Bern.
  • Constituted in 1874, the UPU has four units: the Congress, the Council of Administration, the International Bureau, and the Postal Operations Council.
  • It regulates 6.40 lakh postal outlets worldwide.
  • India joined the UPU on July 1, 1876 and Pakistan on November 10, 1947.

What has mail exchange between India and Pakistan been like?

  • Before Pakistan’s move, mailbags were being exchanged almost daily.
  • With no regular, direct flight connectivity between the two countries, mail was being routed through the Saudi Arabia air route.
  • In India, all international posts are handled through the 28 Foreign Post Offices, with those in Delhi and Mumbai designated to handle mails for Pakistan.
  • The mailbags of both countries were exchanged at airports after a customs check.
  • Other than the UPU, three agreements cover postal exchange between India and Pakistan — Exchange of Value Payable Article, 1948; Exchange of Postal Article, 1974; and International Speed Post Agreement, 1987.

Can one UPU member-country unilaterally stop postal exchange with another?

  • Under UPU rules, when a country decides to suspend exchange with a country, it must notify the operator of the other country and if possible, the duration for which services is being stopped.
  • The UPU’s International Bureau too has to be notified.
  • The International Bureau issued a Convention Manual in 2018, in which Article 17-143 details ‘Steps to be taken in Event of Temporary Suspension and Resumption of Services’.
  • If services are temporarily suspended, the designated operator concerned must be notified of the fact by telecommunications, indicating, if possible, the probable duration of the suspension of services.
  • The same procedure shall be applied when the suspended services are resumed,” the Manual reads.
  • According to the three bilateral agreements between India and Pakistan, too, a prior notice has to be served before suspending services, sources in India Post said.

So, did Pakistan skip the UPU protocol?

  • India was not given prior notice when Pakistan suspended postal exchange.
  • Even two months later, India is yet to receive a direct communication.
  • Pakistan only handed over a copy of an internal order to airline operators, which handed them to Indian representatives.
  • On August 23, the customs and postal departments of Pakistan issued an internal order stopping postal exchange with India and handed its copy it to airlines.
  • India is also unaware if Pakistan has notified the UPU about suspension of postal service with India.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

[op-ed snap] Kartarpur milestone


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : India - Pakistan Kartarpur


The signing of the India-Pakistan agreement on the Kartarpur Corridor, providing visa-free access from the closest point in India, is a historic moment in relations between the two countries.

Importance of the step

  • It has come at a time when there has been high accumulated hostility. 
  • The year has been bad, starting with Pulwama, the IAF operation inside Pakistan, and the war of words over the government’s decisions in Kashmir. 
  • Kartarpur Corridor agreement is the only positive development. It came to fruition because both sides showed the good sense to delink it from the rest of the relationship. 

The self-interest of both sides

  • With so many important Sikh shrines on its side, Pakistan believes it can forge a special relationship with the Sikh community and has done so pro-actively. 
  • India cannot afford to be seen as lagging behind on this, given Punjab’s complex post-Partition political history. 
  • The agreement is a boon to the Sikh community in India, who have the opportunity to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur, directly through a road from Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab to the shrine. It heals one of the wounds of Partition for the Sikh community.

The issue over pilgrim charges

  • Pakistan will levy US$20 fee per pilgrim. Punjab Chief Minister called this a jazia tax, invoking specters of the medieval oppression of Sikhs by Mughals. 
  • The Indian claim that such charges are not in keeping with the religious-cultural ethos of the country is not even accurate. 
  • Big Indian temples charge worshippers for “special darshans” or “quick darshans”, and pilgrims pay these fees without complaint. 
  • China levies charges on pilgrims visiting Lake Mansarovar and India has never objected, even when the fee was hiked a few years ago. 
  • India has dropped the demand that Pakistan does not levy this charge. The amount is protected by the agreement, and any hike will have to be re-negotiated by the two governments.

Similar to IWT

  • In some ways, the Kartarpur agreement is comparable to the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty.
  • It was negotiated and signed by the two countries despite the bad blood over Kashmir. 
  • That, too, was a standalone agreement of its time and has withstood the repeated shocks it has been subjected to by the bilateral ups and downs. 


Hopefully, the Kartarpur Agreement will remain as enduring as the IWT. It may be unrealistic to hope at this moment that this agreement will pave the way for a wider constructive engagement between the two countries. But it shows that the two sides are not entirely without the capability to do this.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

India, Pak. sign Kartarpur pact


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Kartarpur Corridor

Mains level : Pilgrimage diplomacy and Kartarpur corridor

  • India and Pakistan finally signed an agreement to operationalize the Kartarpur corridor that will facilitate pilgrims from India to visit the Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan.

About the agreement

  • The agreement is valid initially for five years.
  • India will hand over the list of pilgrims to Pakistan 10 days in advance and those granted permission to go may be informed only four days before the proposed date of travel.
  • The agreement said pilgrims would be allowed to carry a maximum of Rs. 11,000 and a 7-kg bag that could contain drinking water, and they would not be allowed to venture beyond the shrine.
  • They would travel in the morning and return the same day.
  • However there has been no progress on resolving the disagreement over a $20 fee that Pakistan intends to levy on each traveller.

Why is Pakistan seeking fees?

  • The fees is being criticized as “jazia” tax on pilgrims from Indian side.
  • However, Pakistan has spent about Rs 1,000 crore on the Kartarpur corridor infrastructure.
  • It said it would be providing langar to the pilgrims who visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib.
  • It would also be providing e-rickshaws to ferry the pilgrims from Dera Baba Nanak on the Indian side.

Guidelines  issued

  • According to the “do’s and don’ts” issued by the MHA children below 13 years and persons of about 75 years and above will have to travel in groups.
  • All pilgrims who propose to visit will have to necessarily register online. Registration does not confer a right to travel.
  • Pilgrims would be allowed to carry kirpans (dagger), one of the five articles of faith worn by Sikhs.
  • Smoking, drinking and use of tobacco are not allowed inside the PTB complex at Dera Baba Nanak.


Kartarpur Corridor

  • The first guru of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, founded Khartarpur in 1504 AD on the right bank of the Ravi River. The name Kartarpur means “place of God”.
  • The corridor is being built to connect Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur with Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, the final resting place of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak.
  • It is held to commemorate his 550th birth anniversary celebrations on November 12.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

Downgrading Indo-Pak ties — what this means, when has it happened earlier


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Brief history of India Pak tensions

Pakistan’s National Security Committee (NSC) has taken the decision to downgrade diplomatic ties with New Delhi

What it means

Our ambassadors will no longer be in New Delhi and their counterparts here will also be sent back


  1. This is not the first time that India and Pakistan are downgrading ties.
  2. In 2001, India pulled out it’s high commissioner to Islamabad after the JeM attack on Parliament. Pakistan reciprocated by pulling out its high commissioner.
  3. In 2003, India expelled Deputy high commissioner and Pakistan’s acting high commissioner, accusing him of espionage. Pakistan retaliated by sending back the Indian acting high commissioner.
  4. Both India and Pakistan also decided to downgrade the strength of their respective missions to 51, half of the full strength.
  5. India had suspended air, train and bus links to Pakistan.
  6. This time, Pakistan has announced its decision to recall its envoy and expel the Indian High Commissioner. 
  7. It also announced the suspension of bilateral trade, review of bilateral arrangement, taking India’s actions in Kashmir to the United Nations, and observing August 14 in solidarity with Kashmiris.

Background of the relationship

  1. The India-Pakistan official bilateral trade is worth about $2 billion. According to a recent report by ICRIER, it peaked to about $ 2.5 billion, but fell again after the Uri attack.
  2. India’s top exports to Pakistan are chemicals and textiles, accounting for almost 70% of the bilateral trade.
  3. Pakistan’s top exports to India are vegetable fats and oils, and minerals, accounting for about 70% of its trade with India.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

[op-ed snap] Twenty years ago


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Background of Kargil War


India and Pakistan had fought three wars before the Kargil War 20 years ago: In 1948, 1965 and 1971.

Special about Kargil War

  • There was something different about the Kargil War.
  • The two countries had become declared nuclear weapon states in 1998, a war was never formally declared in 1999 and it ended without a ceasefire, as in 1948 or 1965, or a surrender document, as in 1971.
  • Moreover, it was limited to about a 150-km frontage of the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government by choice, contrary to what Lal Bahadur Shastri did in 1965 when he chose to open a front in Punjab.
  • Fought in the full glare of the media, it was a war which captured the Indian imagination.
  • As it occurred during the 1999 election campaign, the military victory was closely enmeshed with the political narrative of the period.
  • In late 1998, four generals in Pakistan conspired to launch intrusions on the LoC in the Kargil-Dras sector for the purpose of internationalising the Kashmir issue — remember, this was before 9/11 — and cutting the India lifeline to Siachen glacier.
  • By the first four months of 1999, Pakistani soldiers established approximately 140 posts and pickets.
  • The intrusions went undetected till early May when they were grossly underestimated by the Army, which thus pushed soldiers piecemeal, leading to heavy losses with no breakthrough in the initial stages.
  • The army eventually pushed more than 30,000 soldiers in the area, flooded it with Bofors guns and attained some initial success as the Indian Air Force was also brought in.
  • Eventually half of the Pakistani pickets and posts were captured by the Indian military.
  • Under huge global diplomatic pressure, Pakistan vacated the rest of the posts, which almost restored the status quo ante.

Result of war

  • In the final analysis, it was a humiliating military and diplomatic loss for Pakistan.
  • While it is true that Pakistan achieved initial tactical surprise, it failed abysmally when confronted by a determined Indian military.
  • Globally, Pakistan came to be seen as an irresponsible country despite possessing nuclear weapons.
  • The Kargil war also punctured the Pakistani myth that no conventional conflict was possible under a nuclear umbrella.
  • It demonstrated that there was enough space for a limited conflict, and that principle has only been buttressed since, as seen at Balakot.


  • Pakistan refused to learn the lessons but India established a review committee under K Subrahmanyam and followed up on most of the recommendations.
  • Twenty years on, undertaking reforms in the spirit of the Kargil review committee to prepare for the challenges for the future will be the best tribute to the 527 soldiers who lost their lives on the icy heights of Kargil.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

[op-ed snap] India’s shifting strategic concerns


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : India Pakistan and third party mediation


The U.S. President Donald Trump’s latest gaffe has introduced another thorn in what is now clearly an unsettled India-U.S. relationship. While India’s hand is not as strong as we sometimes believe it to be, there might be opportunities to leverage the international situation further down the road.

 Perceived advantage

  • If we step back and evaluate the India-Pakistan equation over the past five years, what stands out is that both sides proceeded from a perception that each holds an advantageous position.
  • India’s confidence emanated from Mr. Modi’s electoral victory in 2014 that yielded a strong Central government and expectations of stable ties with all the major powers.
  • Mostly overlooked in India, Pakistani leaders too have displayed confidence that the international environment was moving in a direction that opened options for Pakistan that were unavailable in the previous decade.
  • This included the renewed patterns of Pakistan’s ties with the U.S. and China, with the latter reassuring Pakistan and, most importantly, the Army on their respective strategic commitments and bilateral partnerships.

Pakistan’s leverage

  • China’s angle – Historically, U.S. policymakers have always sought to restore the alliance with Pakistan whenever Islamabad’s ties with China became stronger. India has borne the brunt of this recurring geopolitical dynamic.
  • Afghan Situation – Much of Pakistan’s contemporary leverage can of course also be traced to the ongoing phase of the Afghan conflict. It fended off the most dangerous phase when U.S. policy might have shifted in an adversarial direction, or instability in the tribal frontier areas might have completely exploded.
  • So, both India and Pakistan perceive themselves to be in a comfortable strategic position.

Pakistan’s benefactors

  • Both the U.S. and China have overlapping interests in regional stability and avoidance of a major subcontinental conflict.
  • While each maintains deep ties with Pakistan for different reasons, it is unclear to what extent their longer term interests coincide with India, which seeks a structural transformation in Pakistan’s domestic politics and external behaviour.
  • The U.S. and China appear content with, or probably prefer, a Pakistan with a strong Rawalpindi, along with competent civilian governance structures and an elite with a wider world view.
  • For China, a stable Pakistan can be a partner in the Belt and Road initiative and future continental industrial and energy corridors.
  • In sum, both the U.S. and China seek a strong, stable and secure Pakistan that controls its destabilising behaviour because that undermines their wider regional interests. For the U.S., a revisionist Pakistan pulls India inward and away from potential India-U.S. cooperation on Asian geopolitics.
  • For China, it undermines its industrial and connectivity projects in Pakistan, while negatively impacting India-China ties.

India’s Stand –

Maintaining that India has the right and the capacity to adopt an active defence posture — that is, blocking the flow of cross-border terror by proactive operations on the Line of Control (LoC) along with reserving the option for more ambitious punitive strikes in response to major terrorist attacks on Indian military targets — would play an important part in shaping how third parties view Indian interests and thereby assume constructive roles in managing Pakistani behaviour.


If India ever asks third parties to assist in the region, it should be for a cessation of Pakistan’s proxy war in Kashmir, and, once an atmosphere of peace has been established, to persuade Pakistan to accept the LoC as part of a final territorial settlement similar to the offer by Indira Gandhi in the 1972 Shimla negotiations.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

[op-ed of the day] A bridge across the India-Pakistan abyss


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Impact of kartarpur talks on future bilateral talks

Note- Op-ed of the day is the most important editorial of the day. Aspirants should try to cover at least this editorial on a daily basis to have command over most important issues in news. It will help in enhancing and enriching the content in mains answers. Please do not miss at any cost.


Ties between India and Pakistan are at an ebb — their lowest in two decades. The thread from this phase, as a series of events — the Kargil war (1999), the Agra Summit (2001), the attack on Parliament (2001) and Operation Parakram (2001-02) — meant a sustained period of deep hostilities, with diplomatic missions downgraded and travel routes truncated.

Kartarpur corridor

  • What has been disconnected from all those tensions are the talks on the Kartarpur corridor.
  • That the talks have continued through one of the most difficult years in the relationship is equally remarkable; there have been three rounds of technical-level meetings to ensure both sides complete the infrastructure needed before November 2019, the 550th anniversary of Sikhism’s founder Guru Nanak.
  • The symbolism for pilgrims who will be able to travel from Dera Baba Nanak town in Punjab to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur just a few kilometres inside Pakistan, which are sites where Guru Nanak spent his last few years, goes well beyond the date and year.

Some irritants

  •  The Kartarpur corridor project is an issue that has been raised by India for several decades, with New Delhi’s reasons for wanting the corridor clear.
  • However, in the case of Pakistan, these have not been as transparent, with the military establishment’s surprise backing only raised doubts on whether Islamabad has an ulterior motive.

1.Allowing Separatist groups –

  • In a dossier handed over during the last round of talks on Kartarpur on July 14, India spelt out its apprehensions over Pakistan allowing separatist Khalistani groups, including those funded by groups based in the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada, to try and influence pilgrims.
  • Of specific concern is the ‘Referendum 2020’ plan by the Sikhs for Justice group (banned by India).

2.Drugs and Arms Supply –

  • The other irritant is the possible use of the corridor for drugs and arms movement; there are many routes and tunnels at the border between the two Punjabs.
  • The terror threat by Pakistani Punjab-based anti-India groups such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammad is also a constant concern.

Hope for future Talks

  • With such strictures in place, New Delhi’s decision to embark on a course that will need regular and repeated India-Pakistan meetings is nothing short of a breach of its otherwise firm “no talks without terror ending” policy.
  • For example, at a time when Indian and Pakistani Ministers do not even hold talks when they meet at multilateral conferences, New Delhi sent two senior Ministers to Pakistan to participate in the ground-breaking ceremony for the event.

A range of possibilities

1.Other faith-based corridors – The obvious extension from this would be for having other faith-based “corridors” for Hindu, Muslim and Sikh pilgrims in both countries; this would be in addition to the list of 20 shrines (15 in Pakistan, five in India) that were negotiated under the 1974 Protocol on visits to Religious Shrines.

2.Template for bilateral negotiations

  • The template that Kartarpur has given both sides is also worth considering for the format of other bilateral negotiations given that the talks have been immunised from both terror attacks and election rhetoric.
  • The venue of the talks, at the Attari-Wagah zero point, lends itself to more successful outcomes too away from the glare of the media, without focus on arrangements for both parties.
  • The two sides can cross over, meet for the duration of talks and return after issuing a pre-arranged joint statement.

Impact of FATF

  • Ahead of the next plenary of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in October, Pakistan will remain under pressure to keep terror groups subdued.
  • According to various reports, infiltration figures at the LoC are significantly lower (a 43% reduction since the Balakot strikes in February); officials have marked about 20 terror camps in PoK they believe have been “shut down” recently.
  • Civilian and military casualties from ceasefire violations have also reduced.

Way Forward

Thus, it would be a travesty to waste the opportunity made possible by the Kartarpur corridor, and by extension, the founder of the Sikh faith himself (revered by Hindus and Muslims in India and Pakistan) to bring both countries back to the table for talks.


Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

[op-ed snap] India’s perilous obsession with Pakistan


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Obsession with Pakistan is detrimental for India's growth in political as well as economic sphere


Come Indian elections, the bogey of Pakistan has overwhelmed the nationalist discourse in the shrillest manner, with the Prime Minister and other Ministers’ relentless branding of the Congress/Opposition as ‘anti-national’ and as ‘agents of Pakistan’. Further, the Prime Minister even made an unprecedented threat of using nuclear weapons against Pakistan.The hyper-nationalistic frenzy to ‘defeat’ Pakistan comes with huge human and material costs.

Historical Hostility

  • As a country born of the two-nation theory based on religion, and then having to suffer dismemberment and the consequent damage to the very same religious identity, it is obvious why Islamic Pakistan must have a hostile Other in the form of a ‘Hindu India’.
  • But what is not obvious is why India, a (much larger) secular nation, must have a hostile antagonist in the form of Pakistan.

Self-defeating goal

  • It is widely recognised that the fulcrum of the Pakistani state and establishment is an anti-India ideology and an obsession with India.
  • But what has scarcely received notice is that India’s post-Independence nationalism has been equally driven by an obsession with Pakistan. .
  • Huge cost associated with jingoism – But, this hyper-nationalistic urge to ‘defeat’ Pakistan and to gloat over every victory, both real and claimed, is ultimately self-defeating, and comes with huge human and material costs. Much of these costs are hidden by jingoism masquerading as nationalism.

Self destructive to Pakistan

  • Words often used regarding the Pakistani state’s actions, even by critical Pakistani voices, are ‘delusional’ and ‘suicidal’, and rightly so.
  • For, no level-headed state would seek to attain military parity with a country that is six and half times larger in population, and eight and a half times bigger economically.
  •  Disproportionate spending on the military  –Hussain Haqqani, the Pakistani diplomat and scholar, compared it to “Belgium rivalling France or Germany”. Pakistan’s vastly disproportionate spending on the military has been self-destructive for a poor nation.
  •  Ruinous policies – In 1990, Pakistan was ahead of India by three places in the Human Development Index. In 2017, Pakistan was behind India by 20 ranks, a sad reflection of its ruinous policies.
  • Sponsorship of Islamist terror groups – More critically, the Pakistani state’s sponsorship of Islamist terror groups has been nothing less than catastrophic.
  •  Victims of Islamist terrorism – What the world, including India, does not recognise is that Pakistan, ironically, is also one of the worst victims of Islamist terrorism.
  • In the period 2000-2019, 22,577 civilians and 7,080 security personnel were killed in terrorism-related violence in Pakistan (the number of civilian/security personnel deaths from Islamist terrorism in India, excluding Jammu and Kashmir, was 926 in during 2000-2018).

Muscular policy

1.No dialogue’ policy –

The fact that Pakistan has suffered much more than India in their mutual obsession cannot hide the equally serious losses that India has undergone and is willing to undergo in its supposedly muscular pursuit of a ‘no dialogue’ policy with Pakistan.

 2. Human and economic costs

  • Wars and military competition produce madness. Nothing exemplifies this more than India-Pakistan attempts to secure the Siachen Glacier, the inhospitable and highest battle terrain in the world.
  • India alone lost nearly 800 soldiers (until 2016) to weather-related causes only. Besides, it spends around Rs. 6 crore every day in Siachen.
  • Operation Parakram (2001-02), in which India mobilised for war with Pakistan, saw 798 soldier deaths and a cost of $3 billion. This is without fighting a war. Add to this the human and economic costs of fighting four wars.

Power Complex in Sub continent

Ten years ago, Stephen P. Cohen, the prominent American scholar of South Asia, called the India-Pakistan relationship “toxic” and notably termed both, and not just Pakistan, as suffering from a “minority” or “small power” complex in which one is feeling constantly “threatened” and “encircled”.

Why is India competing with Pakistan?

  • Here, one should ask the most pertinent question: why does India compete with Pakistan in every sphere, from military to sport, rather than with, say, China, which is comparable in size and population, and which in 1980 had the same GDP as India? (China’s GDP is almost five times that of India’s now.)
  • Of course, emulating China need not mean emulating its internal authoritarianism or its almost colonial, external economic expansionism.
  • On the contrary, it is to learn from China’s early success in universalising health care and education, providing basic income, and advancing human development, which as Amartya Sen has argued, is the basis of its economic miracle. It is precisely here that India has failed, and is continuing to fail.
  • Therefore, despite India being one of the fastest growing major economies in the world since 1991 (yet, only ranked 147 in per capita income in 2017), its social indicators in many areas, including health, education, child and women welfare, are abysmal in comparison with China’s.
  • Worryingly, in the focus on one-upmanship with Pakistan, India’s pace in social indicator improvement has been less than some poorer economies too. The phenomenal strides made by Bangladesh in the social sector are an example.


  • The more India, the largest democracy in the world, defines itself as the Other of Pakistan, a nation practically governed by the military, the more it will become its mirror. Any nation that thrives by constructing a mythical external enemy must also construct mythical internal enemies.
  • That is why the number of people labelled ‘anti-national’ is increasing in India. India has to rise to take its place in the world.
  • That place is not being a global superpower, but being the greatest and most diverse democracy in the world. That can only happen if it can get rid of its obsession with Pakistan.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

[op-ed snap] LoC trade, in perspective


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : LoC

Mains level : Suspending trade across Loc might not prove to be a good idea.


India last week suspended the cross-LoC trade, alleging misuse of the facility by individuals linked to terrorist groups.


1. Origin of trade – These measures seems to have originated in a four-point proposal for Kashmir that began to get regular airing from about 2005 from then military ruler General Pervez Musharraf. The four points were:

    • The LoC will stay but Kashmiris on both sides will be allowed to move freely back and forth;
    • Self-governance or autonomy to the region, but not independence;
    • Gradual demilitarisation on both sides;
    • A joint supervision mechanism with India, Pakistan and Kashmir represented on it.
  • In India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke about “soft borders” and “making borders irrelevant” in Kashmir.
  • On July 7 that year, the Indian Embassy in Kabul was bombed, killing an Indian diplomat and a senior Army officer and several Afghans. The US and India said the ISI was behind the bombing.
  • But the India-Pakistan foreign secretaries’ talks were held as scheduled later that month on July 21 under the composite dialogue format, and they agreed to the opening of trade routes across the LoC.

The two sides then rushed to finalise the details in the following weeks, including at a meeting of the “working group of cross LoC CBMs” on September 22, 2008.

Positive Response

  • Both sides of Kashmir welcomed the opening of the trade routes.
  • PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said at the time “it is a dream come true”, and Sardar Attique Khan, the prime minister of POK, named the day “Youm-e-Karvaan-e-Commerce” (Day of the Caravan of Commerce).
  • The Mumbai attacks put a freeze on India-Pakistan relations, but the cross-LoC trade remained unaffected by that.

Hiccups and demands

  • The agreement was for zero duty trade for a list of 21 items.
  • It ran into problems almost immediately as traders on both sides floundered on currency and communication issues.

1. Establishment of Intra Jammu & Kashmir Chamber of Commerce & Industry (IJ&KCCI) – A chamber of commerce, called the Intra Jammu & Kashmir Chamber of Commerce & Industry (IJ&KCCI), came into existence.


Banking Relations – They pointed to the need for banking relations and mutual acceptance of letters of credit, a communication network, a regulatory network to determine the composition of trade, and a legal network for dispute resolution.

Expansion of list, travel arrangements – The joint chamber recommended expansion of the list of items for trade, facilitation of travel and traders’ access to each other, infrastructure facilities, banking services, use of dual currency of both countries as the mode of payment with the US dollar as the reference point, inclusion of the services sector, and opening of more trade routes.

Complaints – There were complaints that the trade had expanded to include non-Kashmiri goods. The complaints were particularly loud from the traders at Wagah border who catered to the same markets and were envious of the zero-duty cross LoC trade.

Previous suspension

  • Once in 2015, trade was suspended for 40 days after drugs were discovered in a truck from Muzaffarabad.
  • The longest suspension came during the post-Burhan Wani killing agitation in the Valley, for three months.
  • There were other brief spells when trade was suspended, mostly at Chakan da Bagh, on account of heavy cross-border shelling.
  • However, Kashmiris point out that trade has never been suspended for under-invoicing or other such violations at any other port in the country where Customs and other enforcement officials strictly monitor the inflows and outflows, and the same could have been done at the LoC.
  • As for the involvement of former militants in the trade, this was seen as a welcome development towards creating “constituencies of peace” and building stakes for normalcy in the Valley.

Benefits of trade

  • In 2011, a four page report called Intra Kashmir Trade, jointly prepared by the Delhi-based IPCS, Conciliation Resources of London, and the Islamabad-based Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency, said cross border trade had proved it could be insulated from the ups and downs in the India-Pakistan relationship, and had begun to establish a “bottom up” approach to peace-building.
  • Trade has attracted divided families and some former combatants and provided a non-violent and alternative vision for change and conflict transformation,” the report said.
  • It spoke about 40 former militants who had chosen to participate in the economic activity.
  • More than its value in currency terms, the cross Loc trade holds much symbolic value in Jammu & Kashmir, especially in the Poonch-Rawalakot sector, where there are more divided families and villages than at the Uri crossing point.
  • They would be hoping that the current suspension is not permanent.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

[op-ed snap] A bad deal


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : LoC

Mains level : Suspending trade across Loc mightnot prove to be a good idea.


Suspension of LoC trade is a poorly-thought move that shrinks the space for manoeuvre in Kashmir and with Pakistan.

Importance of trade

1.Confidence building In Kashmir – That it was launched at all, and survived the deep freeze of India-Pakistan ties that followed 26/11, growing in value and symbolic importance to Kashmiris on either side of the LoC over the next decade, was due to the all around acknowledgment that Kashmir needs special specific confidence-building measures, and that these need to be kept separate from the India-Pakistan relationship.

2.Symbolic Value – Cross LoC interaction carried huge symbolic value in Kashmir, even though the trade itself has been far below its actual potential, and was tied up with red tape and the absence of banking facilities and telephone connections.

3.High Monetary Value – Moreover, it was being conducted through a barter system, as India and Pakistan could not reach agreement on currency transactions, even though its annual value grew from Rs 1 crore in 2008-09 to over Rs 3,000 crore at the present time.

1.Misuse of trade

  • It is unfortunate that the government has decided to “suspend” this Kashmir-specific confidence building measure now on the ground that it was being misused to push drugs, weapons and counterfeit currency into the Valley from across the border, as well as for trade in goods excluded from the list meant for cross-LoC trade.
  • After all, no trade routes into India are free from misuse.

2.Hawala –

  • Hawala, despite a severe crackdown, continues to exist as a channel through which Indians continue to send and receive money from abroad.
  • In the case of Kashmir, the absence of banking channels must have exacerbated the situation.

Alternatives –

1.Monitoring of trade routes-

  • If the government had apprehensions that the trade across the two sides of Kashmir was being used by terrorist benamis or other unscrupulous elements, the better course of action would have been to monitor the crossing points at Uri and Chakkan da Bagh through which it was taking place four times a week.
  • This is all in a day’s work for customs and other enforcement agencies, and this is how drugs were caught being smuggled in trucks from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.


1. Signals loss of control – Calling off an entire trade route because it is being misused by some sends out the message that the government has lost control, as with the highway closure.

2. Push to alienation – Plus, drawing increasingly tighter red lines in Kashmir, India only makes it more difficult for itself to get out of the corners it has painted itself into when the time for dialogue comes, as it will eventually.

3. Election motives – But if this has been done to create the impression in the rest of the country in the midst of election season that the government is unsparing with Kashmiris, it can only be described as cutting the nose to spite the face.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

[op-ed snap]A case for aggressive diplomacy: on India-Pakistan relations


Mains Paper 2: IR | India & its neighborhood- relations

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:Not Much

Mains level: India Should Change it’s Response and strategy from defensive to aggressive.



Tensions between Pakistan and India post Pulwama are rising and diffusing at the same time.

Confusing behaviour

  • akistan alleged on March 5 that it had thwarted the entry of an Indian submarine into its waters. India responded that Pakistan was indulging in false propaganda.
  • On the same evening, the Pakistani Foreign Ministry issued a statement that its High Commissioner to India, Sohail Mahmood, would be returning to Delhiand talks with India on the Kartarpur Corridor would go ahead.

Agenda  behind such acts

  • Pakistan, through its morning assertion, was playing to its domestic audience, while its evening statement was a signal to the international community that it had no further desire to climb the escalation ladder with India.

Winding Down Tensions

  • It was U.S. President Donald Trump who provided the first clear indication of the involvement of major powers in defusing tensions between India and Pakistan.
  •  If the Indian intention post-Pulwama was to isolate Pakistan, that doesn’t seem to have happened.
  • For the two governments, given that the score was level — one had shot down a F-16 and the other had shot down an MiG-21 — they could now respond positively to global concerns.
  • There is little doubt that India got away with its pre-emptive strike in Balakot because Pakistan’s denials that it has nothing to do with fostering groups like the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) carry no credibility, including among thinking members of its own civil society.
  • Further, the JeM even claimed responsibility for the Pulwama terror strike.

Past conflicts and Tensions

  • The India-Pakistan nuclear ‘deterrent’ was first put to test by General Pervez Musharraf, who planned the Kargil incursion months after Pakistan went publicly nuclear in response to the Indian nuclear tests of May 11 and 13, 1998.
  • As India began clearing the Kargil heights of the Pakistani Northern Light Infantry masquerading as ‘mujahideen’, there was enormous pressure on Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to use the Indian Air Force across the Line of Control after the loss of two MiG aircraft.
  •  But Vajpayee held firm against both public and IAF pressure.
  • Pakistan’s conduct during Kargil exposed the state as irresponsible and led to numerous international calls for respecting the LoC.
  • Pakistan went to great lengths to obtain its nuclear capability to insulate itself against India and no “miltablishment” can survive there if it’s unable to even the score with India. The nuclear option is built into the trajectory of its survival as a state.
  • During the Kargil war in 1999, after the Parliament attack in 2001, and post the Mumbai attack in 2008, two Prime Ministers of India had the option of retaliation, but they did not exercise it.
  • Instead, India’s patience projected the responsible nature of the state, which was in stark opposition to Pakistan’s tattered credibility.

Way Forward

  • A conventional response to terrorist groups can demonstrate intent, but does very little to whittle down their abilities.
  • Covert capabilities coupled with deft and persistent diplomacy is the only way forward in such difficult circumstances.
  • The government’s inability to reach out to Kashmiris and its actions against the Hurriyat leadership at a time when the separatists have lost control of the public mood underline an uncaring attitude.
  • This has also created a fertile ground for Kashmiri youth to join terrorist ranks.
  • Indian state responses cannot be reactive to the agenda of terrorist groups, howsoever brutal their actions are.
  • A calm, mature, informed and long-term strategy with aggressive diplomacy at its core, one that leverages India’s economic strength, remains the country’s best bet to deal with the terrorist threat from Pakistani soil.



Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

Explained: How a Prisoner of War must be treated


Mains Paper 2: IR | Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Geneva Convention

Mains level: Prospects of the Geneva Convention



  • India has demanded the immediate return of IAF pilot Wg Cdr Abhinandan captured by Pakistan after his Mig-21 fighter aircraft was shot down in PoK during a dogfight with Pakistani fighter jets.
  • India has also lashed out at the “vulgar display of an injured personnel of the Indian Air Force in violation of all norms of international humanitarian law and the Geneva Convention”.
  • A look at the provisions of the Geneva Conventions:

The Geneva Conventions

  • The 1949 Geneva Conventions are a set of international treaties that ensure that warring parties conduct themselves in a humane way with non-combatants such as civilians and medical personnel, as well as with combatants no longer actively engaged in fighting, such as prisoners of war, and wounded or sick soldiers.
  • All countries are signatories to the Geneva Conventions.
  • There are four conventions, with three protocols added on since 1949.

Does the captured pilot count as a prisoner of war?

  • The provisions of the conventions apply in peacetime situations, in declared wars, and in conflicts that are not recognised as war by one or more of the parties.
  • Even though India and Pakistan have been careful not to use the ‘w’ word for the operations each has conducted on the other’s territory over two successive days.
  • India has said its airstrikes were a “non-military” intelligence-led operation — both sides are bound by the Geneva Conventions.
  • This means the IAF officer is a prisoner of war, and his treatment has to be in accordance with the provisions for PoWs under the Geneva Conventions.

What are the provisions for PoWs?

  • The treatment of prisoners of war is dealt with by the Third Convention or treaty.
  • Its 143 articles spread over five sections and annexure are exhaustive, and deal with every kind of situation that may arise for a captive and captor, including the place of internment, religious needs, recreation, financial resources, the kinds of work that captors can make PoWs do, the treatment, and the repatriation of prisoners.
  • The Third Convention is unambiguous about how prisoners must be treated: “humanely”.
  • And the responsibility for this lies with the detaining power, not just the individuals who captured the PoW.

What rights is a PoW entitled to?

  • Article 14 of the Convention lays down that PoWs are “entitled to in all circumstances to respect for their persons and their honour”.
  • In captivity, a PoW must not be forced to provide information of any kind under “physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion”.
  • Refusal to answer questions should not invite punishment. A PoW must be protected from exposure to fighting.
  • Use of PoWs as hostages or human shields is prohibited, and a PoW has to be given the same access to safety and evacuation facilities as those affiliated to the detaining power.
  • Access to health facilities, prayer, recreation and exercise are also written into the Convention.
  • The detaining power has to facilitate correspondence between the PoW and his family, and must ensure that this is done without delays.
  • A PoW is also entitled to receive books or care packages from the outside world.

Releasing prisoners

  • Parties to the conflict “are bound to send back” or repatriate PoWs, regardless of rank, who are seriously wounded or sick, after having cared for them until they are fit to travel”.
  • The conflicting parties are expected to write into any agreement they may reach to end hostilities the expeditious return of PoWs.
  • Parties to the conflict can also arrive at special arrangements for the improvement of the conditions of internment of PoWs, or for their release and repatriation.
  • At the end of the 1971 war, India had more than 80,000 Pakistani troops who had surrendered to the Indian Army after the liberation of Dhaka.
  • India agreed to release them under the Shimla Agreement of 1972.

Monitoring the Geneva Conventions

  • The Geneva Conventions have a system of “Protecting Powers” who ensure that the provisions of the conventions are being followed by the parties in a conflict.
  • In theory, each side must designate states that are not party to the conflict as their “Protecting Powers”.
  • In practice, the International Committee of the Red Cross usually plays this role.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

Explained: Decoding the OIC’s invite to ‘Guest of Honour’ India


Mains Paper 2: IR | India & its neighborhood relations

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: OIC

Mains level: Implications of India’s invite to OIC


  • India overcame a five-decade-old hurdle to get itself invited to Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) meet.
  • It is a welcome recognition of the presence of 185 million Muslims in India and of their contribution to its pluralistic ethos, and of India’s contribution to the Islamic world.
  • The meeting will be held in Abu Dhabi on March 1 and 2, for which Swaraj has been invited by Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Foreign Minister of the UAE as the “Guest of Honour”.

Why the OIC matters

  • The OIC — formerly Organisation of Islamic Conference — is the second largest inter-governmental organisation in the world after the UN, with a membership of 57 states in four continents.
  • The OIC describes itself as “the collective voice of the Muslim world”.
  • Its stated objective is “to safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people of the world”.

Membership of OIC

  • The OIC has reserved its membership for Muslim-majority countries.
  • Russia, Thailand, and couple of other small countries have Observer status.
  • At the 45th session in May 2018, Bangladesh, the host country, had suggested that India, where more than 10% of the world’s Muslims live, should be given Observer status.
  • However Pakistan had opposed the proposal.

Why India is the Guest of Honour?

I. Improved ties with UAE, Saudi

  • The first-time invitation to India to be a Guest of Honour at the Plenary, especially at a time of heightened tensions with Pakistan is a significant diplomatic victory.
  • The invitation indicated “the desire of the enlightened leadership of the UAE to go beyond our rapidly growing close bilateral ties and forge a true multifaceted partnership at the multilateral and international level”.
  • It is considered as a milestone in our comprehensive strategic partnership with the UAE.

II. Hosting the Prince

  • The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, was a very special Chief Guest at the 68th Republic Day celebrations in 2017.
  • It was the first time that India laid out the Republic Day red carpet for a leader who was neither a Head of State nor Head of Government.
  • The invite may be an important outcome of the MBS visit, apart from being an indication of New Delhi’s improved ties with both Saudi and the UAE, and the Gulf region as a whole.

But, it has been pro-Pak on J&K

  • The OIC has been generally supportive of Pakistan’s stand on Kashmir, and has issued statements criticizing the alleged Indian activities in the state.
  • The 2017 session of the Council of OIC Foreign Ministers had adopted a resolution “reaffirming the unwavering support… for the Kashmiri people in their just cause.
  • At the 2018 meeting in Dhaka, however, “J&K” figured in only one of the 39 resolutions adopted, that too, along with 12 other states or regions worldwide.
  • Pakistan had complained about the Dhaka Declaration, and accused Bangladesh of circulating the text very late.

A new India-Pak tussle is expected

  • Indeed, India has excellent relations individually with almost all member nations of the OIC.
  • This is a reason why it can at times afford to not take the statements issued by the group as a whole seriously.
  • Despite the invitation to MEA — who can be expected to bring up the terrorist attacks in India in her address — it is important to watch what line the OIC takes on J&K in its final declaration.
  • It is certain that Pakistan would be making every effort and behind-the-scenes negotiations for a statement on Kashmir, perhaps using last year’s report of the UN Human Rights Office that criticized India.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

[pib] Indus Waters Treaty 1960 : Present Status of Development in India


Mains Paper 2: IR | India & its neighborhood- relations

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Permanent Indus Commission, Indus Water Treaty

Mains level: Rising tensions between India and Pakistan over various issues


Indus Waters Treaty, 1960

  1. The Indus Waters Treaty is a water-distribution treaty between India and Pakistan, brokered by the World Bank signed in Karachi in 1960.
  2. According to this agreement, control over the water flowing in three “eastern” rivers of India — the Beas, the Ravi and the Sutlej was given to India
  3. The control over the water flowing in three “western” rivers of India — the Indus, the Chenab and the Jhelum was given to Pakistan
  4. The treaty allowed India to use western rivers water for limited irrigation use and unrestricted use for power generation, domestic, industrial and non-consumptive uses such as navigation, floating of property, fish culture, etc. while laying down precise regulations for India to build projects
  5. India has also been given the right to generate hydroelectricity through run of the river (RoR) projects on the Western Rivers which, subject to specific criteria for design and operation is unrestricted.

Present Status of Development

  1. To utilize the waters of the Eastern rivers which have been allocated to India for exclusive use, India has constructed Bhakra Dam on Satluj, Pong and Pandoh Dam on Beas and Thein (Ranjitsagar) on Ravi.
  2. These storage works, together with other works like Beas-Sutlej Link, Madhopur-Beas Link, Indira Gandhi Nahar Project etc has helped India utilize nearly entire share (95 %) of waters of Eastern rivers.
  3. However, about 2 MAF of water annually from Ravi is reported to be still flowing unutilized to Pakistan below Madhopur.
  4. The three projects will help India to utilize its entire share of waters given under the Indus Waters Treaty 1960:

I. Resumption of Construction of Shahpurkandi project

  • It is a dam project under construction on Ravi River.

II. Construction of Ujh multipurpose project

  • It is a dam project under construction on Ujh , a tributary of Ravi River.

III. 2nd Ravi Beas link below Ujh

  • This project is being planned to tap excess water flowing down to Pakistan through river Ravi, even after construction of Thein Dam.
  • It aims constructing a barrage across river Ravi for diverting water through a  tunnel link to Beas basin.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

Explained: What is MFN status, how can India hurt Pak by withdrawing it


Mains Paper 2: IR | India & its neighborhood relations

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: MFN status, General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, WTO

Mains level: India-Pakistan trade relationship


  • In a major terrorist attack, 40+ CRPF personnel were martyred in J&K’s Pulwama district when a terrorist attacked with an explosives laden vehicle into one of the vehicles of the CRPF convoy.
  • In response to the effect, India withdrew MFN status accorded to Pakistan.

MFN status to Pakistan

  1. India granted MFN status to Pakistan in 1996, a year after the formation of WTO.
  2. Pakistan still hasn’t granted India with MFN status. On the other hand, it came up with a dissimilar but globally popular Non-Discriminatory Market Access (NDMA) agreement.
  3. The reason Pakistan has chosen to adopt the NDMA with India is due to political mistrust and a history of border conflicts.
  4. On November 2, 2011, the Pakistani cabinet decided formally to accord India MFN status. But that decision remains unimplemented.

Trade between India and Pakistan

  1. Bilateral trade between India and Pakistan stands at $2.61 billion.
  2. The major commodities and goods in which both countries trade include cement, sugar, organic chemicals, cotton, man-made filaments, vegetables and certain fruits and tubers, mineral fuels, mineral oils, salts, earths, stone, lime, dry fruits, steel and plastering material.
  3. In FY17, India-Pakistan trade was a mere $2.29 billion, or about 0.35% of India’s overall trade.

Does MFN mean preferential treatment?

  1. In literal explanation, MFN doesn’t mean preferential treatment.
  2. Instead it means non-discriminatory trade that ensures that the country receiving MFN status will not be in a disadvantageous situation compared to the granter’s other trade partners.
  3. When a country receives MFN status, it is expected to raise trade barriers and decrease tariffs.
  4. It is also expected to open up the market to trade in more commodities and free flow of goods.

Pros of MFN

  1. MFN status is extremely gainful to developing countries.
  2. The clear upsides are access to a wider market for trade goods, reduced cost of export items owing to highly reduced tariffs and trade barriers.
  3. These essentially lead to more competitive trade.
  4. MFN also cuts down bureaucratic hurdles and various kinds of tariffs are set at par for all imports.
  5. It then increases demands for the goods and giving a boost to the economy and export sector.
  6. It also heals the negative impact caused to the economy due to trade protectionism.


  1. The decision by India to withdraw MFN status to Pakistan is intended to isolate Pakistan diplomatically and squeeze the country’s industry.
  2. Even though the low volumes of trade limit the impact that such a step can have, the stoppage of input materials such as chemicals and cotton from India will push up costs of production for the relevant Pakistani industries.
  3. However, it will also give a handle to extremist elements in Pakistan to scale up the rhetoric against India.


What is MFN Status?

  1. Most Favoured Nation is a treatment accorded to a trade partner to ensure non-discriminatory trade between two countries vis-a-vis other trade partners.
  2. Article 1 of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), 1994, requires every member country of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to accord Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to all other member countries.
  3. Under WTO rules, a member country cannot discriminate between its trade partners.
  4. If a special status is granted to a trade partner, it must be extended to all members of the WTO.

Benefits of MFN

  1. MFN essentially guarantees the most favourable trade conditions between two countries.
  2. These terms include the lowest possible trade tariffs, the least possible trade barriers and very crucial to trade relations– highest import quotas.
  3. The WTO rules allow discrimination in certain cases like in cases when a country signs free trade agreements in a region.
  4. In that situation, a country may grant special favours and trade concessions to a country as compared to non-member countries of that group.


  1. The main disadvantage is that the country has to give the same treatment to all other trade partners who are members of the WTO.
  2. This translates into a price war and vulnerability of the domestic industry as a result.
  3. The country is not able to protect domestic industry from the cheaper imports and in this price war, some domestic players have to face heavy losses or growth restrictions.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

[op-ed snap] Why SAARC is still relevant


Mains Paper 2: IR|  Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate..

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Basics aspects of SAARC

Mains level: The newscard discusses the relevance and issues with respect to SAARC, in a brief manner.


  • Imran Khan earned a lot of popular support in Pakistan by opening up the Kartarpur Sahib gurudwara to Sikh yatris from across the border with India. He talked of “peace and trade” and was hailed by the man in the street.
  • In fact, Prime Minister Khan was so sure of “real” public support that he began toying with the idea of mid-term polls to bag a two-thirds majority in parliament that would enable him to change the laws which obstruct his political agenda.


  1. The South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) has come under serious scrutiny in the last few years. Even after three decades of its existence, SAARC’s performance has been less than satisfactory, and its role in strengthening regional cooperation is being questioned.
  2. SAARC faced setback after the 19th summit scheduled to be held in Pakistan in 2016 was suspended for an indefinite period, as member countries declined to participate, pointing to what they said was the absence of a conducive regional environment.
  3. Though SAARC has established itself as a regional forum, it has failed to attain its objectives. Numerous agreements have been signed and institutional mechanisms established under SAARC, but they have not been adequately implemented.
  4. The South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) is often highlighted as a prominent outcome of SAARC, but that, too, is yet to be implemented. Despite SAFTA coming into effect as early as 2006, the intra-regional trade continues to be at a meagre five percent.

Lack of trust among the member countries

  • In the many failures of SAARC, lack of trust among the member countries has been the most significant factor between India and Pakistan. In recent times, Pakistan’s non-cooperation has stalled some major initiatives under SAARC.
  • For example, despite India’s keen interest in cooperating and strengthening intra-regional connectivity by backing the SAARC–MVA during the 18th summit of SAARC, the agreement was stalled following Pakistan’s reluctance.
  • Similarly, the SAARC satellite project that India proposed was abandoned following objection from Pakistan in 2016.

Security cooperation

  • SAARC has also faced obstacles in the area of security cooperation. A major hindrance in this regard has been the lack of consensus on threat perceptions, since member countries disagree on the idea of threats.
  • For instance, while cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan is a major concern for India, Pakistan has failed to address these concerns.

Other significant reasons for SAARC’s failures include the following:

  1. The asymmetry between India and other member countries in terms of geography, economy, military strength and influence in the global arena make the smaller countries apprehensive. They perceive India as “Big Brother” and fear that it might use the SAARC to pursue hegemony in the region. The smaller neighbouring countries, therefore, have been reluctant to implement various agreements under SAARC.
  2. SAARC does not have any arrangement for resolving disputes or mediating conflicts. Disputes among the member countries often hamper consensus building, thus slowing down the decision-making process. SAARC’s inability in this regard has been detrimental to its growth.
  3. Given SAARC’s failures, member countries have turned to bilateralism, which in turn has adversely affected the organisation. Bilateralism is an easier option since it calls for dealings between only two countries, whereas SAARC—at a regional level—requires one country to deal with seven countries.
  4. Thus, bilateralism decreases the countries’ dependence on SAARC to achieve their objectives, making them less interested in pursuing initiatives at a regional level.
  5. SAARC faces a shortage of resources, and countries have been reluctant to increase their contributions.
  6. Lack of connectivity between different SAARC countries is another reason for the lackluster performance of SAARC so far. Trade and other relations between India and Afghanistan are hampered by the fact that they don’t share any border and connectivity through Pakistan, and is dependent upon good relations between India and Pakistan.

Why SAARC is still relevant

  1. Although it has not met the expectations it has generated, but it gives opportunities for the leaders as well as the operating level officials to interact regularly and discuss issues of mutual concern is reason enough for SAARC to remain relevant.
  2. The problems faced by the SAARC countries are similar and distinct from other regions. The solutions, therefore, are best found with mutual cooperation in the region. For this reason itself SAARC continues to be relevant.
  3. There is no denying the fact that growth in trade and commerce within the region is an extremely important step in this direction. Agreements for this purpose that have been signed earlier do exist. What is required is to operationalise these. If for whatever reasons some countries are not in a position to do so, it will be better for those countries that can do so to move forward.

Way forward

  1. What is also required is for SAARC to concentrate its activities in core identified areas and not lose its direction by getting involved in too many activities. Since India is literally the pivot around which SAARC revolves, the major responsibility for making SAARC a success is upon India. It, therefore, needs to show willingness and undertake asymmetric responsibilities where required.
  2. To give momentum to this process, one or two projects at the sub-regional level could be identified and vigorously implemented within a specific time frame. These projects, if successful, can show the benefits of mutual cooperation and could persuade the doubting Thomas’s to join in.
  3. Each SAARC country also has to realize that while the political situation in individual countries may keep on changing, the economic situation does not change so rapidly and, as it exists, requires really serious efforts for improvement.
  4. At the end of the day, it is the economy which matters for the impoverished people of the region. SAARC can and should be the instrument for leaders of the region to improve the economic situation of the people of the region, even if to begin with, it is in baby steps.
  5. To make SAARC more effective, the organisation must be reformed and member countries must reach a consensus regarding the changes required. However, considering the differences that exist among the members, particularly between India and Pakistan, such a consensus will be difficult to reach. Until the member countries resolve their issues, the future of SAARC remains uncertain.


What Is SAARC & SAARC Countries?

  1. The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is regional intergovernmental organization and geopolitical union in South Asia.  Its member states include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.  SAARC was founded in Dhaka in 1985.
  2. Its secretariat is based in Kathmandu.
  3. The organization promotes the development of economic and regional integration.
  4. It launched the South Asian Free Trade Area in 2006.
  5. SAARC maintains permanent diplomatic relations at the United Nation as an observer and has developed links with multilateral entities.

Observers Of SAARC: – 

States with observer status include Australia, China, the European Union, Iran, Japan, Mauritius Myanmar, South Korea and the United States.

Objectives Of SAARC:-

The objectives shall be:

  1. To promote the welfare of the peoples of SOUTH ASIA and to improve their quality of life.
  2. To accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural developmentin the region.
  3. Toprovide all individuals with the opportunity to live in dignity and to realise their full potentials.
  4. To promote and strengthen collective self-reliance among the countries of SOUTH ASIA
  5. To contribute to mutual trust, understanding and appreciation of one another are problems.
  6. To promote active collaboration and mutual assistance in the economic, social, cultural, technical and scientific fields.
  7. To strengthen cooperationwith other developing countries.
  8. To strengthen cooperation among themselves in international forums on matters of common interests.
  9. To cooperate with international and regional organisations with similar aims and purposes.

SAARC Law Conference

  • It was established in Sri Lanka in 1991.
  • Since then conference has provided a platform for legal professionals from South Asian region to meet and discuss issues of mutual interests pertaining to justice, legal reforms, good governance and enforcement over a span of 25 years.
  • 14th Conference held in Colombo, SL in October 2017

With inputs from:  ORF

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

India, Pakistan exchange list of nuclear installations


Mains Paper 2: IR | India & its neighborhood- relations

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Non-nuclear Aggression Agreement

Mains level: India-Pakistan Strategic Relations


  • India and Pakistan has exchanged for the 28th consecutive year a list of their nuclear installations under a bilateral agreement that prohibits them from attacking each other’s atomic facilities.

Non-Nuclear Aggression Agreement

  1. It is a bilateral and nuclear weapons control treaty between India and Pakistan, on the reduction (or limitation) of nuclear arms and pledged not to attack or assist foreign powers to attack on each other’s nuclear installations and facilities.
  2. It was signed on December 31, 1988 and came into force on January 27, 1991.
  3. The agreement says that the two countries will inform each other of nuclear installations and facilities to be covered under the agreement on January 1 of every calendar year.
  4. The two countries have adhered to the practice of exchanging the lists of prisoners and nuclear installations despite recurring tensions.

Pakistan profile – Timeline

A chronology of key events:

Muhammed Ali Jinnah – founding father of Pakistan

Muhammed Ali Jinnah – founding father of Pakistan

  • Born in Karachi, 1876
  • Pakistan’s first head of state until his death in 1948

Screening the life of Jinnah

1906 – Muslim League founded as forum for Indian Muslim separatism.

1940 – Muslim League endorses idea of separate nation for India’s Muslims.

1947 – Muslim state of East and West Pakistan created out of partition of India at the end of British rule. Hundreds of thousands die in widespread communal violence and millions are made homeless.

1948 – Muhammed Ali Jinnah, founding leader of Pakistan, dies. First war with India over disputed territory of Kashmir.

Military rule

1951 – Jinnah’s successor Liaquat Ali Khan is assassinated.

1956 – Constitution proclaims Pakistan an Islamic republic.

1958 – Martial law declared and General Ayyub Khan takes over.

1960 – General Ayyub Khan becomes president.

War and secession

1965 – Second war with India over Kashmir.

1969 – General Ayyub Khan resigns and General Yahya Khan takes over.

1970 – Victory in general elections in East Pakistan for breakaway Awami League, leading to rising tension with West Pakistan.


1971 – East Pakistan attempts to secede, leading to civil war. India intervenes in support of East Pakistan which eventually breaks away to become Bangladesh.

General Zia’s death in 1988 ended 11-year military rule

Echoes of General Zia

1972 – Simla peace agreement with India sets new frontline in Kashmir.

1973 – Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto becomes prime minister.

Zia takes charge

1977 – Riots erupt over allegations of vote-rigging by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). General Zia ul-Haq launches military coup.

1978 – General Zia becomes president, ushers in Islamic legal system.

1979 – Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto hanged amid international protests.

1980 – US pledges military assistance to Pakistan following Soviet intervention in Afghanistan.

1985 – Martial law and political parties ban lifted.

1986 – Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s daughter Benazir returns from exile to lead PPP in campaign for fresh elections.

1988 August – General Zia, US ambassador, and top army brass die in air crash.

Benazir Bhutto addressing a rally

Benazir Bhutto: Twice prime minister of Pakistan

  • Daughter of hanged PM Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto
  • Served as PM 1988-1990 and 1993-1996
  • Died in a bomb blast in 2007, shortly after returning from exile

Obituary: Benazir Bhutto

Bhutto comeback

1988 November – Benazir Bhutto’s PPP wins general election.

1990 – Benazir Bhutto dismissed as prime minister on charges of incompetence and corruption.

1991 – Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif begins economic liberalisation programme. Islamic Sharia law formally incorporated into legal code.

1992 – Government launches campaign to stamp out violence by Urdu-speaking supporters of the Mohajir Quami Movement.

1993 – Prime Minister Sharif resigns under pressure from military. General election brings Benazir Bhutto back to power.

Nuclear tests

1996 – President Leghari dismisses Bhutto government amid corruption allegations.

1997 – Nawaz Sharif returns as prime minister after Muslim League party wins elections.


1998 – Pakistan conducts its own nuclear tests after India explodes several nuclear dev

Nawaz Sharif, ousted in 1999 coup, exiled, back in government in 2008

Profile: Nawaz Sharif

1999 April – Benazir Bhutto and husband convicted of corruption and given jail sentences. Ms Bhutto stays out of the country.

1999 May – Kargil conflict: Pakistan-backed forces clash with the Indian military in the icy heights around Kargil in Indian-held Kashmir. More than 1,000 people are killed on both sides.

Musharraf coup

1999 October – General Pervez Musharraf seizes power in coup.

2000 April – Nawaz Sharif sentenced to life imprisonment on hijacking and terrorism charges over his actions to prevent the 1999 coup.

2000 December – Nawaz Sharif goes into exile in Saudi Arabia after being pardoned by military authorities.

2001 June – Gen Pervez Musharraf names himself president while remaining head of the army.

2001 September – Musharraf swings in behind the US in its fight against terrorism and supports attacks on Afghanistan. US lifts some sanctions imposed after Pakistan’s nuclear tests in 1998.

Pakistani soldiers build bunkers at Line of Control separating Pakistani- and Indian-held Kashmir

2001 December – India, Pakistan prompt fears of full-scale war by massing troops along common border amid growing tensions over Kashmir following suicide attack on Indian parliament.

Tensions with India over Kashmir go back decades

Q&A: Kashmir dispute

Kashmir conflict ‘unfinished business’

The future of Kashmir?

2002 January – President Musharraf bans two militant groups – Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad – and takes steps to curb religious extremism.

2002 April – President Musharraf wins another five years in office in a referendum criticised as unconstitutional and flawed.

2002 May – Pakistan test fires three medium-range missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, amid rumours of impending conflict with India.

2002 August – President Musharraf grants himself sweeping new powers, including the right to dismiss an elected parliament.

Thaw with India

Pervez Musharraf

2003 November – Pakistan declares a Kashmir ceasefire; India follows suit.


Military ruler put under pressure by US’s “war on terror”: Pervez Musharraf

Profile: Pervez Musharraf

2003 December – Pakistan and India agree to resume direct air links and to allow overflights of each other’s planes from beginning of 2004, after a two-year ban.

2004 February – Leading nuclear scientist Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan admits to having leaked nuclear weapons secrets, reportedly to Libya, North Korea and Iran.

2004 June – Pakistan mounts first military offensive against suspected Al-Qaeda militants and their supporters in tribal areas near Afghan border. US begins using drone strikes to target Al-Qaeda leaders in the area.

2004 April – Parliament approves creation of military-led National Security Council, institutionalising role of armed forces in civilian affairs.

2004 May – Pakistan readmitted to Commonwealth.

2005 April – Bus services, the first in 60 years, operate between Muzaffarabad in Pakistani-administered Kashmir and Srinagar in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

2005 August – Pakistan tests its first nuclear-capable cruise missile.

Kashmir quake

2005 October – Earthquake kills tens of thousands of people in Pakistani-administered Kashmir.

Gunmen defending the Red Mosque, Islamabad, in 2008 Image copyrightAFP

The 2008 storming of the radical Red Mosque killed more than 100 people.

Profile: Islamabad’s Red Mosque

2006 September – Government signs peace accord to end fighting with pro-Al-Qaeda militants in Waziristan tribal areas near Afghan border.

2007 February – Sixty-eight passengers are killed by bomb blasts and a blaze on a train travelling between the Indian capital New Delhi and the Pakistani city of Lahore.

Pakistan and India sign an agreement aimed at reducing the risk of accidental nuclear war.

Musharraf targets judiciary

2007 March – President Musharraf suspends Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, triggering a wave of protests across the country.

2007 July – Security forces storm the militant-occupied Red Mosque complex in Islamabad following a week-long siege.

Supreme Court reinstates Chief Justice Chaudhry.

Two women mourn assassinated former Pakistani PM Benazir Bhutto Image copyrightAFP

The assassination of former PM Benazir Bhutto shook Pakistani politics

Special: Bhutto assassination

2007 October – Ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto returns from exile. Dozens of people die in a suicide bomb targeting her homecoming parade in Karachi.

Army launches offensive against militants in North Waziristan. Nearly 200 people die in the fighting.

2007 October-November – Musharraf wins presidential election but is challenged by Supreme Court. He declares emergency rule, dismisses Chief Justice Chaudhry and appoints new Supreme Court, which confirms his re-election.

2007 November – Former PM Nawaz Sharif returns from exile.

Bhutto killed, Musharraf resigns

2007 December – State of emergency lifted.

Benazir Bhutto assassinated at political rally at election campaign rally in Rawalpindi.

2008 February-March – Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) nominee Yusuf Raza Gilani becomes PM at head of coalition with Nawaz Sharif’s Muslim League party following parliamentary elections in February.

2008 August – President Musharraf resigns after the two main governing parties agree to launch impeachment proceedings against him.

Taliban fighters train in South Waziristan tribal area

Taliban militia expanded their influence in Pakistan’s tribal areas in 2008

Who are the Taliban?

Nawaz Sharif pulls his PML-N out of the coalition, accusing the PPP of breaking its promise to reinstate all judges sacked by Mr Musharraf.

2008 September – MPs elect Pakistan People’s Party’s (PPP) Asif Ali Zardari – the widower of assassinated former PM Benazir Bhutto – president.

Suicide bombing on Marriott Hotel in Islamabad kills 53 people. Soon after, government launches major offensive in Bajaur tribal area, killing more than 1,000 militants.

2008 November – The government borrows billions of dollars from the International Monetary Fund to overcome its spiralling debt crisis.

Tribal areas turmoil

2008 December – India blames Mumbai attacks in November on Pakistani-based militants and demands Pakistan take action. Islamabad denies involvement but promises to co-operate with the Indian investigation.

2009 February – Government agrees to implement Sharia law in north-western Swat valley in effort to persuade Islamist militants there to agree to permanent ceasefire.

2009 March – After days of protests, government yields to demands for reinstatement of judges dismissed by former President Musharraf.

2009 April – Swat agreement breaks down after Taliban-linked militants seek to extend their control. Government launches offensive to wrest control of Swat from militants.

A boy makes his way through flood waters in a village south of Muzaffargarh in Punjab, 21 August 2010

The 2010 monsoon floods were the worst in 80 years

  • At least 1,600 people killed
  • 20 million people affected
  • 4 million lost livelihoods and homes

2009 August – The leader of Pakistan’s Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud, is killed in US drone attack in South Waziristan. He is succeeded by Hakimullah Mehsud.

Suicide bombing in northwestern city of Peshawar kills 120 people.

Reform efforts

2010 April – Parliament approves package of wide-ranging constitutional reforms. Measures include transferring key powers from office of president to prime minister.

2010 August – Worst floods in 80 years kill at least 1,600 people and affect more than 20 million. Government response widely criticised.

Compound where Osama Bin Laden was found and killed on outskirts of Abbottabad, northwest Pakistan Image copyrightBBC

Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden was found hiding in a suburban compound in Pakistan

Ridicule and rage for Pakistan’s army

BBC News – Death of Bin Laden

2010 October – Rise in targeted political killings, bombings in commercial hub of Karachi.

2011 January – A campaign to reform Pakistan’s blasphemy law leads to the killing of two prominent supporters, Punjab Governor Salman Taseer in January, and Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti in March.

2011 April – The founder of Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, is killed by American special forces in Abbottabad.

2011 November – Pakistan shuts down Nato supply routes after a Nato attack on military outposts kills 25 Pakistani soldiers, boycotts the Bonn Conference on Afghanistan.


2011 December – Government comes under pressure over a leaked memo alleging senior officials sought US aid against a military coup after the killing of Osama bin Laden in April.

2012 January – Amid growing tension between government and military over “memogate” scandal, army chief Gen Pervez Kayani warns of “unpredictable consequences” after PM Yousuf Raza Gilani criticises army leaders and sacks top defence official.

Supreme Court threatens to prosecute Prime Minister Gilani for contempt of court over government’s refusal to reopen corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari and other political figures.

2012 May – A US Senate panel cuts $33m in aid to Pakistan over the jailing of Pakistani doctor Shakil Afridi who helped the CIA find Osama Bin Laden.

Christians protest against Pakistani blasphemy laws, August 2012

2012 June – Supreme Court disqualifies Prime Minister Gilani from holding office after he declines to appeal against a token sentence in President Zardari corruption row. Parliament approves Water and Power Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf as his successor.

2012 July – Pakistan agrees to reopen Nato supply routes to Afghanistan after the US apologises for killing Pakistani soldiers in November.

Sunni extremist violence increases

2012 September – Muslim cleric Khalid Chishti is arrested on suspicion of planting burnt pages of the Koran on a Christian girl briefly detained for blasphemy. Amid widespread condemnation of the case against the girl at home and abroad, a court dropped it November.

2012 October – Taliban gunmen seriously injure 14-year-old campaigner for girls’ rights Malala Yousafzai, whom they accused of “promoting secularism”. The shooting sparked a brief upsurge of anger in Pakistan against the militants.

2012 November – Taliban suicide bomber kills at least 23 people at a Shia Muslim procession in the Rawalpindi.

2013 January – Supreme Court orders the arrest of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf over corruption allegations dating back to his time as a minister in 2010. He denies wrongdoing.

The government sacks Balochistan chief minister over bomb blasts in the provincial capital Quetta that kill at least 92 Shia Muslims. Sunni extremist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claims responsibility.

Populist cleric and anti-corruption campaigner Tahirul Qadri leads a nationwide march on Islamabad. The government responds by agreeing to dissolve parliament early and to consult Mr Qadri over the formation of a caretaker government.

2013 February – Bomb attack targeting Shia Muslims in Quetta kills 89 people. Police detain Lashkar-e-Jhangvi militant group founder Malik Ishaq after the group claims responsibility.

2013 June – Parliament approves Nawaz Sharif as prime minister after his Muslim League-N wins parliamentary elections in May. Taliban conduct systematic campaign of attacks and intimidation, but fail to deter largest turnout of voters since 1970.

2013 September – More than 80 people are killed in a double suicide bombing at a church in Peshawar. It is the deadliest attack so far against Christians in Pakistan. Taliban-linked Islamists claim responsibility.

2014 March – Government and Taliban representatives meet in North Waziristan for peace talks, with a cease-fire top of the agenda.

2014 June – A deadly assault on Karachi’s international airport leaves dozens dead. Uzbek militants fighting with the Pakistani Taliban say they carried out the attack. Peace talks with the Taliban collapse and the army launches a major offensive on Islamist hideouts in north-west Pakistan.

2014 September – Arrests of opposition activists amid days of violent anti-government protests on the streets of Islamabad. Government and opposition figures hold talks but fail to resolve differences.

2014 October – Teenager Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban but survived to become a campaigner for girls’ education, becomes the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Peshawar school attack

2014 December – Taliban kills nearly 150 people – mostly children – in an attack on a school in Peshawar.

Government responds to the massacre by lifting a moratorium on the death penalty and launching round-up of terror suspects, although critics complain major terror organisers are left alone.

2015 January-February – Taliban attack Shia mosques in Sindh and Peshawar in two incidents, killing nearly 80 people and injuring dozens more.

2015 April – India protests over Pakistan court release on bail of suspected mastermind of 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi. Human rights activist Sabeen Mehmud shot dead in Karachi.

2015 June – Pakistan acknowledges that eight out of ten Taliban members allegedly jailed for the gun attack on teenage education activist and Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai were secretly acquitted at their trial in April.

2016 January – Islamist extremists attack Bacha Khan University in Charsadda in north-west Pakistan, killing 19 people and injuring 17 others before security forces killed the four suspected assailants.

2016 March – Taliban offshoot Jamaat-ul-Ahrar says it carried out a suicide attack at a popular park in Lahore on Easter Sunday killing 72 people, saying it had targeted Christians.

2016 March – Former president Pervez Musharraf leaves the country for Dubai after the Supreme Court lifts a three-year travel ban. His lawyers say he needs urgent spinal treatment and will return to face treason and murder charges against him.

2016 September – Pakistan’s military acknowledges for the first time the presence of so-called Islamic State militants in the country, but says it has foiled attempts by the group to expand there.

2016 September – Taliban offshoot Jamaat-ul-Ahrar claims suicide attack on a court in the northern city of Mardan in which 12 people are killed and 50 are injured.

Pakistan was born by curving out two geographically far flung areas from the earst-while British India. The basis of this division itself was a pseudo sense of difference in identity, which gave rise to instability in government, inefficiency of political parties and a weak political culture leading to the scenario for a politically and socially unstable state.

The partition of British India led to the creation of two sovereign states ‘The Union of India’ and ‘The Dominion of Pakistan in the August of 1947.

‘Partition’ was not only in respect of the division of the Bengal province of British India into East Pakistan and West Bengal (India) and the similar partition of the Punjab province into Punjab of West Pakistan and Punjab of India but also to the respective divisions of other assets, including the British Indian Army, the Indian Civil Service and other administrative services, the Railways and the central treasury.

Pakistan was virtually divided into two geographically far flung divisions with distinctly separate cultures, never to be assimilated in a single nationhood.

Major Crisis

The relationship between the two umbilical twin states got sour from the very beginning. In fact there had been two full scale wars (1965 & 1971), two limited wars (1947 & 1999) and an ongoing proxy war waged by the Pakistani side with the help of various anti-state and terrorist elements. The causes between this enimity are many, which are briefly discussed below:

The Kashmir Issue

This northern state was populated predominantly by Muslims and was ruled by a Hindu Maharaja. The Maharaja, Hari Singhji, did not take any decision regarding the state’s accession before, or immediately after, August 15, 1947. Pending final decision, the Maharaja concluded a standstill agreement with Pakistan. India did not accept such a temporary arrangement.

In the month of October 1947, an attack took place on Kashmir by the so called tribal elements of North West Frontier region of Pakistan. Immediately before the attack by Pakistan-sponsored tribals on Kashmir began, a senior official of Pakistan Foreign Office visited Kashmir and tried to persuade Hari Singh to agree to join Pakistan. Maharaja refused to take any decision in haste.

Soon thereafter the aggression began. They launched the attack on October 22, 1947 in a number of sectors. They were well-trained and equipped. Within a short period of five days they reached Baramula, just 25 miles away from Srinagar. It was only after the commencement of aggression that a nervous Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession in favour of India.

The accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India was finalized by October 27, and the army was airlifted to clear the aggressions. Pakistan refused to accept the accession. The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Liaquat Ali Khan said that, ‘the accession of Kashmir to India is a fraud perpetrated on the people of Kashmir by its cowardly ruler with the aggressive help of the Government of India.’ In this way started the root cause of enimity between the two neighbours.

East Pakistan/Bangladesh

When India was partitioned in 1947, the basis for partition was religion. The Muslim majority areas in the West as well as East constituted the new state of Pakistan. Between the two wings of Pakistan there was about 1200 miles of Indian territory. The majority of Pakistani population lived in the East, but the country’s politics was largely controlled by leadership in the West, particularly Punjab.

The notion that Islam would unite the two parts and that it was one nation proved to be a myth. Languages and cultural traditions in the two parts of Pakistan were different. Rather than bringing about emotional integration, Pakistan’s bureaucratic-military rulers sought to dominate East Bengal. Imposition of Urdu was totally unacceptable to people of East Pakistan.

The immediate cause of conflict was denial of the office of Prime Minister of Pakistan to the leader of Awami League, Sheikh Mujibur Rehman, even when his party had won 160 out of 300 seats in Pakistan National Assembly elections held in December 1970.

Unprecedented violence erupted in East Bengal where Pakistani Security forces let loose a reign of terror. Hundreds of thousands of people were killed and wounded and women in very large numbers were raped. About one crore people arrived in India as refugees.

This brought India into the picture. Indian Prime Minister Mrs. Gandhi established contacts with all major Powers of the world to pressurize Pakistan to stop massacre of people in East Bengal so that Bangla refugees could be sent back to their homes. Mrs. Gandhi’s visits to western capitals were not fruitful.

Finally, India had to intervene to provide humanitarian support to the people coming from East Pakistan. Pakistan used it as a pretext and launched air raid on Indian air bases in the western sector. Thus started the war of 1971, which ultimately ended with the liberation of Bangladesh.

Shimla Accord

After diplomatic level negotiations for several months, India-Pakistan Summit was held at Shimla at the end of June 1972. Mrs. Indira Gandhi and Mr. Z.A. Bhutto, assisted by their high-level delegations, held complex and extensive discussions on various issues arising out of the war, as well as on general bilateral relations.

The issues ranged from the repatriation of prisoners of war, the recognition of Bangladesh by Pakistan, normalization of diplomatic relations between India and Pakistan, resumption of trade and fixation of international line of control in Kashmir.

With these objectives in view Indira Gandhi and Bhutto agreed to (i) seek peaceful solutions to disputes and problems through bilateral negotiations, and neither India nor Pakistan would unilaterally change the existing situation and (ii) not to use force against each other, nor violate the territorial integrity, nor interfere in political freedom of each other.


Terrorism remains our core concern in the relationship with Pakistan and has been repeatedly raised with Pakistan, including at the highest level, whereby India has consistently urged Pakistan to fulfill its repeated assurance given to us not to allow the territory under its control to be used for supporting terrorism directed against us or for any other anti-India activity.

More recently, during the meeting of Indian PM with Pak PM, PM underlined our concerns regarding terrorism and stressed that it was imperative to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai attack to justice.

The Siachen Issue

It is a military conflict between India and Pakistan over the disputed Siachen Glacier region in Kashmir. The conflict began in 1984 with India’s successful Operation Meghdoot during which it wrested control of the Siachen Glacier from Pakistan and forced the Pakistanis to retreat west of the Saltoro Ridge.

India has established control over all of the 70 kilometres (43 miles) long Siachen Glacier and all of its tributary glaciers, as well as the three main passes of the Saltoro Ridge immediately west of the glacier-Sia La, Bilafond La, and Gyong La.

The conflict in Siachen stems from the incompletely demarcated territory on the map beyond the map coordinate known as NJ9842. The 1949 Karachi Agreement and 1972 Simla Agreement did not clearly mention who controlled the glacier, merely stating that the Cease Fire Line (CFL) terminated at NJ9842. UN officials presumed there would be no dispute between India and Pakistan over such a cold and barren region.

  • It is not just avalanches; the challenging terrain of the glacier and its surroundings as a whole have been regularly claiming lives.
  • According to reliable estimates, over 2,000 soldiers from both sides have died on the Siachen glacier since 1984, when India beat Pakistan by a few days to occupy many of the strategic locations on the glacier.

Where is it located?

Siachen Glacier

The Siachen Glacier is located in the eastern Karakoram range in the Himalaya Mountains, just northeast of the point NJ9842 where the Line of Control between India and Pakistan ends.

  • At 76 km long, it is the longest glacier in the Karakoram and second-longest in the world’s non-polar areas.
  • It is situated at an average altitude of 5,400 meters above sea level.
  • It lies South of the great watershed that separates Central Asia from the Indian subcontinent, and Pakistan from China in this region. It lies between the Saltoro ridge line to the west and the main Karakoram range to the east.
  • The entire Siachen Glacier, with all major passes, is currently under the administration of India since 1984, while Pakistan controls the region west of Saltoro Ridge.


Ever since the two militaries began a costly engagement on the glacier, there have been numerous efforts by both countries to find a way to demilitarise the glacier. In June 1989, they came very close to clinching a final deal.

  • The two sides had agreed to “work towards a comprehensive settlement, based on redeployment of forces to reduce the chance of conflict, avoidance of the use of force and the determination of future positions on the ground so as to conform with the Shimla Agreement and to ensure durable peace in the Siachen area”.
  • Ever since then, India and Pakistan have tried diplomatically to find a way to demilitarise the region. However, a lack of political will on both sides has meant that the status quo holds, and soldiers continue to pay a very high price in that remote snowy outpost.
  • India has in the past suggested delineation of the Line of Control north of NJ 9842, redeployment of troops on both sides to agreed positions after demarcating their existing positions, a zone of disengagement, and a monitoring mechanism to maintain the peace.
  • Deeply divergent positions held by New Delhi and Islamabad on the dispute is one of the primary reasons why the negotiations on demilitarising the Siachen glacier and the adjoining areas have not progressed much.

Why India doesn’t want to leave this place?

The most obvious reason for India’s continuing presence at Siachen is its strategic importance. Military experts also believe that it drives a wedge between Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and China, and is the only tenuous link India has with Central Asia.

  • Other fears include the Chinese presence in the vicinity, concerns about a Pakistani incursion and the difficulty in retaking the glacier once gone.
  • India also insists that the present ground positions on the Saltoro ridge should be demarcated and authenticated on a map before any demilitarisation could be conducted, fearing that once India withdraws from the region, the Pakistan Army could occupy the high ground.
  • Moreover, India does not want a disagreement on the posts and locations to be vacated by the Indian side. This feeling has further strengthened after the Kargil intrusion by Pakistan.
  • India has therefore insisted that joint demarcation of the Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) on the ground as well as the map should be the first step to be followed by a joint verification agreement and redeployment of forces to mutually agreed positions.

Pakistan’s arguments:

  • Presently, India is the occupying party in Siachen and hence, it should unconditionally withdraw and the pre-1984 status quo should be maintained.
  • By agreeing to a joint demarcation, Pakistan would be accepting the Indian claims in Siachen, at least theoretically.
  • Pakistan also feels that if it accepts such demarcation, it would amount to endorsing the Indian occupation of 1984.
  • Pakistan has therefore proposed that demilitarisation of the region, withdrawal of forces and authentication proceed simultaneously.

What can be done?

  • One, both countries can agree to a glacier of peace with neither side occupying it. Then there would be no strategic reason for soldiers to serve in such inhospitable terrain.
  • The second option is mutual withdrawal of forces without delineation and authentication. This is both undesirable and unlikely.
  • The third option is mutual withdrawal after jointly recording current military positions and exchanging them as part of an annexure without prejudice to each other’s stated positions, pending the final settlement of the Line of Control (LoC) and AGPL. This is perhaps the best option and takes on board India’s demand, and may not meet too much resistance from the Pakistani side given that they had agreed to it in 1992.
  • It can also be converted into an international destination for glacial research and other scientific experiments. International scientific presence would act as a deterrent against any potential Pakistani attempts at occupying the territory and it could also check the Chinese activities in the greater Karakoram region. This perhaps is the best option under the circumstances.

Way ahead:

Given Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s personal initiative to visit Lahore in December 2015 and to push forward peace with Pakistan, it would only be the next logical step to look at the low-hanging fruits in bilateral issues to build trust.

  • The demilitarisation of Siachen is definitely doable. This is not only because it is diplomatically possible, but also because there is a critical mass of opinion in both India and Pakistan that neither can sacrifice, or put in harm’s way, so many lives on the inhospitable glacier.
  • If the initiative is not seized by both sides now, the vagaries of nature will continue to exact a toll on forces deployed in Siachen, even if peace holds.


It is important to recognise that just because we have militarily and materially invested in the Siachen region over the years or incur lower casualties than Pakistan, it does not provide us with a strategically sound rationale to continue stationing troops there, only to keep losing them year after year.

The February 3 avalanche on the Siachen glacier that buried 10 Indian Army soldiers is a stark reminder to both India and Pakistan about the cost of military deployment in such inhospitable territory.

While we as a nation remain indebted to our brave soldiers who laid down their precious lives on the glacier, there is neither valour nor glory in death due to cerebral edema or hypothermia, guarding a few kilometres of ice whose strategic value is ambiguous at best.

Sir Creek

The resolution to the Sir Creek dispute has been considered a low-hanging fruit for sometime now. The demarcation of the 96 km strip of water in the Rann of Kutch marshlands was one of the factors that contributed to the 1965 India-Pakistan war.

  • Pertinently, it is tied to the larger issue of delineating maritime boundaries and exclusive economic zones. That the creek has changed its course significantly over the years complicates matters further.


Sir Creek is a strip of area between Pakistan and India in the Rann of Kutch marshlands. It is situated in south east of Karachi, and divides the Kutch region of the Indian state of Gujarat with Sindh province of Pakistan.

  • Both countries have many creeks in the delta region such as Kajhar, Kori, Sir and Pir Sanni creek. The significance of Sir Creek is that it lies between the boundary of India and Pakistan. The far ends starts from Border Pillar (BP) 1175 and other end opens up into the Arabian Sea.
  • A dispute arose on the issue of drawing a dividing line between the two countries. The demarcation becomes significant when the line extends seawards to divide the sea boundary between India and Pakistan. The line then directly affects the division of sea resources including minerals, fish and other marine life between the two countries.
  • Going over to the history of this dispute, it is worth mentioning that the Bombay Presidency, a British Indian Province established in the 17th century, was divided into four commissionerates and twenty-six districts with Bombay city as its capital. The four divisions were Sindh, Gujarat, Deccan and Karnataka.
  • In 1908, the commissioner of Sindh brought to the notice of government, an act of encroachment on the part of Kutch State and Kutch Darbar was asked for an explanation by Government of Bombay. During several sessions and series of meetings, both representatives of Sindh and Kutch states were provided ample opportunity to explain their positions before final decision. In 1914, with Kutch Darbar awarding a triangular area to Sindh state in the north and some area to Kutch state in south, resolved the issue.
  • The boundary demarcation as per 1914 resolution was marked on the map B-44. To demark the boundary on land, 66 pillars were erected vertically and 67 pillars were erected horizontally. Last Border Pillar (BP) 1175 was at the far end of the Sir Creek and a green line was marked on the eastern bank of the Sir Creek.

During recent past history, the question of boundary in the Sir Creek region came up first time for discussion during 1969, when a delegation from the Government of India visited Islamabad for the purpose of actually settling the question of boundary alignment from BP 1175 to Mouth of Sir Creek opening up into the Arabian Sea. Since then twelve rounds of talks and three technical level meetings have been held in this regard but any success could not be met due to Indian evasive attitude.

Significance of this region:

The issue may not have risen, since the creek itself is located in the uninhabited marshlands, has limited military value but holds immense economic gain. The region being rich in oil and gas below the sea bed, control over the creek will add enormously to the energy potential of each nation.

How Convention of the Laws of the Sea has further increased the tension?

Initially territorial waters extended only till 12 nautical miles but since the advent of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, a coastal state can now have control over five sea zones: internal water, territorial sea area (12 nautical miles wide), contiguous zone (12 nautical miles wide), the (EEZ) Exclusive Economic Zone (200 nautical miles wide), the continental shelf (from 200 nautical miles up to maximum 350 nautical miles wide).

The EEZ can thus be exploited commercially both for the undersea energy as well as nutrient sources.

  • The said Convention gives additional rights to both India and Pakistan over sea resources up to 200 nautical miles in the water column and up to 350 nautical miles in the land beneath the water column.
  • It also provides principles on the basis of which sea boundaries have to be drawn between the states adjacent to each other with a concave coastline. In short, the land boundary’s general course of direction on the land leading up to the coast can make a difference of hundreds of square nautical miles of sea when stretched into the sea as a divider between the said two states.
  • With the adaptation of 1982 Law of the Sea Convention by both countries, the governments have suddenly realised the enormous sea resources that can be lost or won on the basis of the land terminal point where the border between India and Pakistan ends. That is why Sir Creek has now become more contentious than ever before.
  • Besides, both countries are bound to protect their sea-lanes of communications and make efforts for increasing the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) area through claiming Continental Shelf by submitting claim to UN Commission on Limits of Continental Shelf (CLCS).
sir creek

Pakistan’s arguments:

Pakistan claims the entire Sir Creek based on a 1914 agreement signed between the government of Sindh and rulers of Kutch.

India’s arguments:

India contests Pakistan’s claim, stating that the boundary lies mid-channel of the Creek. In its support, it cites the Thalweg Doctrine in International Maritime Law, which states that river boundaries between two states may be divided by the mid-channel if the water-body is navigable.

Who is being affected?

The biggest casualty of not delimiting the Sir Creek is the incarceration of thousands of innocent fishermen from the border region who are routinely arrested and their boats and materials confiscated under the premise of illegal intrusion, even though there is no cognisable territorial and maritime boundary delimitation in the area.

  • These innocent civilians are deprived of their fundamental human rights. They are denied consular assistance; many are allegedly tortured and languish in jails while being subjected to horrible living conditions and without any meaningful access to judicial process.
  • Some prisoners go missing and may even be presumed victims of custodial killings. In goodwill gestures, some prisoners are fortunate enough to be freed, often in swaps.
  • Various studies have also shown that this region has become a safe haven for international drug mafia.

Why deadlock?

One of the chief reasons for the deadlock is that India wants the dispute resolved solely through bilateral dealings in the spirit of the Shimla Agreement of 1972, while Pakistan favours third-party involvement and wants to link the resolution of the dispute to contested territories under Indian occupation.

Options before both the countries:

  • Designating the non-delineated area — Sir Creek and its approaches — as a zone of disengagement or a jointly administered maritime park. Such a joint administration could see licensed fishermen from both countries fish in the area without fear of incarceration.
  • Alternatively, given the creek’s ecological sensitivity, both countries could designate the area a maritime sensitive zone. In fact, given the challenges posed by climate change, environment protection offers a significant opportunity for bilateral cooperation.
  • Another option available is the constitution of an arbitration tribunal under Article 287 (c) of the UN 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).
  • The solution to the Sir Creek issue also lies in the adoption of the Bombay Government Resolution of 1914, which demarcated the boundaries between the two territories, included the creek as part of Sindh, thus setting the boundary line known as the “Green Line” or the eastern flank of the creek.


Both India and Pakistan are passing through a crucial phase that offers huge potential for collaboration. While issues such as terrorism remain, the youthful demography of both countries holds out significant hope. The post-1971 generation in both countries is increasingly stepping into leadership roles. Unburdened by the baggage of history, and tackling issues on the basis of pragmatism, a paradigm shift in bilateral relations is within grasp

 Indus Water Treaty

Kashmir and adjoining area is the origin point for many rivers and tributaries of the Indus river basin. They include the Jhelum and Chenab rivers, which primarily flow into Pakistan while other branches-the Ravi, Beas, and the Sutlej- irrigate northern India.

The Boundary Award of 1947 meant that the headwaters of Pakistani irrigation systems were in Indian territory. Pakistan has been apprehensive that in a dire need, India (under whose portion of Kashmir lies the origins and passage of these rivers) would withhold the flow and thus choke the agrarian economy of Pakistan.

The Indus Waters Treaty signed in 1960 resolved most of these disputes over water, calling for mutual cooperation in this regard. But the treaty faced issues raised by Pakistan over the construction of dams on the Indian side which limit water flow to the Pakistani side.

Baglihar Dam

Baglihar Dam, also known as Baglihar Hydroelectric Power Project, is a run-of-the-river power project on the Chenab River in the southern Doda district of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.

This project was conceived in 1992, approved in 1996 and construction began in 1999. Pakistan claimed that design parameters of Baglihar project violated the Indus Water Treaty of 1960.

After failure of talks on January 18, 2005, Pakistan raised six objections to the World Bank, a broker and signatory of Indus Water Treaty.

In April 2005 the World Bank determined the Pakistani claim as a ‘Difference’, a classification between theless serious ‘Question’ and more serious ‘Dispute’, and in May 2005 appointed Professor Raymond Lafitte, a Swiss civil engineer, to adjudicate the difference. Lafitte declared his final verdict on February 12, 2007, in which he upheld some minor objections of Pakistan, declaring that pondage capacity be reduced by 13.5%, height of dam structure be reduced by 1.5 meter and power intake tunnels be raised by 3 meters, thereby limiting some flow control capabilities of the earlier design.

However he rejected Pakistani objections on height and gated control of spillway declaring these conformed to engineering norms of the day. India had already offered Pakistan similar minor adjustments for it to drop its objection.

 Kishanganga Project

The Kishanganga Hydroelectric Project is located on the Kishanganga River and was initially being constructed by the state government of Jammu & Kashmir and was subsequently transferred to NHPC for implementation. Pakistan has articulated its objections in the form of six questions; three are related to the design, two on diversion and one on power house.

The diversion tunnel would reduce the flow of water by 27%. Besides Pakistan has a plan to construct 969 MW hydropower project on the river Neelam. In fact, they have already spent 71 million rupees on it. Similarly the Indian side has completed 75% tunnel construction work. On May 17, 2010, Pakistan moved for arbitration against India under the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty. In February 2013, the International Court of Arbitration (ICA), Hague ruled that India could divert a minimum

of water for their project. In this partial award, the court upheld India’s main contention that it has the right to divert waters of western rivers, in a non-consumptive manner, for optimal generation of power.

 Tulbul Project

The Tulbul Project is a ‘navigation lock-cum-control structure’ at the mouth of Wular Lake. There has been an ongoing dispute between India and Pakistan over the Tulbul Project since 1987, when Pakistan objected that it violated the 1960 Indus Water Treaty. India stopped work on the project that year, but has since pressed to restart construction.

The Jhelum River through the Kashmir valley below Wular Lake provides an important means of transport for goods and people. India says suspension of work is harming the interests of people of Jammu and Kashmir and also depriving the people of Pakistan of irrigation and power benefits that may accrue from regulated water releases.

Cease Fire Violation issue

line of control


India desires peaceful, cooperative and friendly relations with Pakistan. This requires an environment free from violence and terrorism, which is difficult to attain. Any dialogue between India and Pakistan is quite often followed by a ceasefire violation along the LOC lines.

As a result, bilateral engagement is taking two steps back after taking one step forward. This whole process is not something new, owing to a shared disputed and disturbed border since 1947 between them.

To curb cycle of violence along the 725km long Line of Control (LOC), which divides J&K into two parts, a landmark ceasefire agreement between India and Pakistan was signed in 2003. It included framework of military confidence building∙ measures(CDMs) that kept the artillery pieces at least 20 km away from the LoC non- military CBMs such as a cross-LoC bus service and trade However, the peace didn’t last very long and was hampered by a string of actions by both sides.

This situation leads to loss of lives of not only army jawans but also innocent people. In a written reply to the Rajya Sabha, defence minister Manohar Parrikar said there were 199 ceasefire violations by Pakistan along the border with India till June this year. In 2014, the number of violations was 583, and in 2013, it was 347.

 Reasons behind ceasefire violations

  • The drastic increase in the ceasefire violations can be termed as a show of power.
  • Both countries vehemently shifts blame on each other for it. Pakistan believes India is taking up border works which in “violation of ceasefire agreement” of 2003.
  • On other occasions, it simply retaliates to open firing from Indian Territory.∙ A thorough analysis from Indian side proves that Pakistan’s deep state is in not in sync with political leadership.∙ It wants to display its ability to start a proxy war.
  • Apart from aiding infiltration, currently violations are used as an instrument of diplomacy to send veiled messages.
  • Pakistan’s internal peace highly depends on proving up India as its external enemy.
  • Pakistan army’s identity and its ideology will get defeated if ever peace is achieved between the two nations.
  • Pakistan’s ISI and army may never let the political leadership override their decision.∙ They want to keep the pot boiling by disrupting any peace process between the two nations. The recent∙ 3 Gurdaspur terror attack, which came ahead of the NSA-level talks, is an example of it. Practice is not new, it is only being used more often now for psychological gains.

Impact on villagers living near the border

The borderlands in J&K represent a case of ‘alienated borderlands’. Caught in the hostility between India and Pakistan, the people in border areas of J&K are struck up in the situation of uncertainty.

It refers to those kind of borders which reflect ‘extremely unfavourable conditions’ defined by warfare, political disputes, intense nationalism, ideological animosity, etc. Such conditions while leading to control over people living in the border areas, impact on their quality of life.

While multiple wars (1947–48, 1965, 1971, 1999) created havoc in the border areas, even peacetime did not provide any relief to the people there. The situation during last two and a half decades has been more unstable. With the onset of militancy, the border became more active.

In 2003, a formal ceasefire was declared, which brought the border people some relief. But this ceasefire has often been violated and the uncertainty of the borders has not ended. Continuous volatility of borders has resulted into:

1. Militarization of the borderlands overwhelming presence of security forces – many towns in the border areas almost seem like military towns.

2. Life and livelihood loss

  • Huge land area are under the control of the army.
  • It is generally out of bounds for the local residents.
  • There are various kinds of restrictions including restriction of movement. People have become prey to the communalized violence on both the sides of the border.
  • What can be described as normal life – the children attending school, the farmers cultivating the land, or even people living in their own homes – can be disrupted at any moment.

The situation is worsen due to inadequate or lack of compensation, the conditions in the relief camps, the conditions of schools, college and other education facilities. Partition is not a settled history, but a living problem for tens of thousands of people living along the LoC. Although for a short duration, any ceasefire agreement between two nations comes as a huge relief to them.

Impact on bilateral ties

  • Ever since the two countries started the peace process, scepticism about the longevity of bilateral dialogue∙ has been a perennial feature of discourse on India-Pakistan relations.
  • Crafting a durable Pakistan policy has been a challenge for every Indian Prime Minister since Independence.
  • Each one of them, from Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru onwards, has tried to put their own individual imprint. Yet, it remains a complex relationship. Even Narendra Modi government, after its initial enthusiasm, couldn’t ensure a lasting breakthrough with Pakistan.
  • It is widely acknowledged on Indian side that elements in Pakistan’s decision-making circles tries to sustain a∙ hostile relationship with India. As long as these elements remain influential, a normal state to state relationship will be very difficult to achieve. Pakistan’s internal politics will need to change before these elements can be neutralized.
  • In India, there is consensus on the need to have normal and peaceful relations with Pakistan. There is also a∙ strong sentiment that Pakistan’s support to terrorism against India prevents normalization. Hence, the peace efforts will take a long time to yield conclusive results.
  • Meanwhile India should continue to expand the range of options in its political tool kit thereby increasing∙ India’s leverage.

 How should the government respond?

  • In a recent interview, India’s foreign secretary has made it clear that any unprovoked firing from the∙ Pakistani side would meet with an effective and forceful response from our forces.
  • While the Pakistani defence minister has lightly warned India that it does not want convert border tension between two nuclear neighbours into confrontation.
  • The response by the Indian army will meet the immediate psychological need of the hour. But this rising tension needs to be cooled down. The response has to be on different fronts – military,∙ political and diplomatic and these cannot be stand alone.
  • The fact remains that both countries have too much at stake in the peace process. For India, it provides an opportunity to rise above the security concern and establish credible relations with Pakistan. For Pakistan, it is a way out of the multiple crises, especially its internal security situation that has worsened over time threatening the stability of the state and the societal structure.


There is no alternative to a dialogue to resolve the issues. It is too utopian to think that peace can prevail only after all opposition to the moves aimed at bringing about the peace between both the countries vanishes completely. There are various ways in which the ceasefire agreement can be implemented as long as there is a will to do so from both sides.

Pakistani Army

 Civil Military relationship

Healthy civil military relations contribute a lot to enhance the efficiency of a nation. In open societies civil establishment and military institutes work in hand and gloves with political government; where political government is having the final control on national decisions. Although, in developing democracies incidences of military over step their powers is common.

Ever since its creation, Pakistan has witnessed very dominating military relations with civil government, where the military ‘take over’s were common.

Since independence in 1947, Pakistan has experienced 30 years of military rule (1958 to 1971, 1977 to 1988 and 1999 to 2008); even when not in government the military has constantly sought to centralise and consolidate political power and the military (notably military intelligence, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)) exerts significant overt and covert control over the civilian authorities in both domestic and foreign affairs.

Even presently, since Pakistan’s third, disastrous stint of military rule ended in 2008, the generals have tried hard to be seen to be getting out of politics. Behind the scenes the army still wields immense influence. Yet they have tried hard enough to not being seen to boss around civilian governments.

Army as a driver of foreign policy; especially towards India

In any democratic country, Foreign Policies are designed by the head of government, normally the democratically elected government, with the aim of achieving complex domestic and international agendas but this is not the case with Pakistan.

Assessing the role played by core decision-making bodies in Pakistan’s foreign policy is interesting as the National Security Council (NSC) and the Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) reflect the civil-military problematique that affects nearly every aspect of decision making in the country.

Especially, Indian military superiority, that led to the Pakistani defeat in the 1971 conflict with India, which culminated in the independence of Bangladesh and the Kargil war in 1999, provided more impetus to the overly aggressiverole played by the Army in decision making of the Foreign Policy.

As the above mentioned background highlights, the lack of institutionalisation of the foreign policy decision making process had immediate consequences in the policy outcomes during those crisis. The unending tensions between the Prime Minister and the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) prevented cohesion and coherence in Pakistan’s foreign policy-making.

The apparent democratic renaissance that the country witnessed in 2008 and in the wake of the May 2013 elections provides a few tokens that the decision-making mechanism, includingmthe DCC and Parliamentary committees on foreign policy, is starting to work properly under civilian control.

Current Internal Scenario

Economic Condition

Pakistan happens to be world’s 44th largest economy in terms of nominal GDP. After decades of war and social instability, as of 2013, serious deficiencies in basic services such as railway transportation and electric power generation has developed. The economy is semi-industrialized, with centers of growth along the Indus River. Primary export commodities include textiles, leather goods, sports goods, chemicals, carpets and rugs.

The economy has suffered in the past from internal political disputes, a fast-growing population, mixed levels of foreign investment. Foreign exchange reserves are bolstered by steady worker remittances but a growing current account deficit – driven by a widening trade gap as import growth outstrips export expansion – have draw down reserves and dampened GDP growth in the medium term.

Given the structural inadequacies of the governance, especially confined revenues and savings coupled with rising expenditures have caused situation of persistent fiscal deficit over the years. One war after another and one coup after another has always kept the coffer empty. Plus came the demand of the military establishment for state of the art weaponry and other means of war, which compounded the impact. One has to admit about the economy being in shambles.

 Political Unrest

Of late, Pakistan had once again been suffering from another self-induced political crisis. For days, street protests led by opposition politicians Imran Khan and Tahir-ul-Qadri had paralyzed Islamabad and threatened the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Although both opposition leaders had been eager to pick fights with the ruling government, they have been equally careful not to clash with the army.

For the time being, the army’s strength and relative unity limited the prospects for a genuinely revolutionary turn in Pakistan’s political order. But this is also the bad news.

The repressive, anti-democratic character of a political order in which the military plays a dominant role staves off revolution, but it also stymies healthy reform and progress. As many of political analysts have concluded, the only ‘winner’ in the recent political crisis has been the military and its associated intelligence service, the ISI.

 Pakistani Taliban

The origin of the Pakistani Taliban can be traced to two significant developments after the United States invaded Afghanistan in October 2001. First, thousands of Pakistani Pakthun tribesmen were mobilized for armed action and crossed the Durand Line into Afghanistan to resist both the American and the NATO forces.

The second development was the arrival in the tribal areas of the Afghan Taliban’s and Al-Qaeda’s senior leadership, along with hundreds of Afghan, Arab, Chechen, Uzbek, East Asian, and Sudanese fighters.

Al-Qaeda militants distributed million of dollars among tribal elders in return for shelter. Most of the two groups’ leadership and cadre escaped to South Waziristan, where they were offered protection by the Ahmedzai

Wazir tribe, who, after two decades of engagement, had become sympathetic toward both groups. Al-Qaeda also began leasing compounds from tribesmen to establish training camps and command and control centers, as well as recruiting local tribesmen. This rekindling of old alliances and forging new ones renewed a culture of militancy that had been cultivated during the Soviet-Afghan War.

This insurgency, which was initially limited to North and South Waziristan, spread during the next few years throughout FATA. On December 13, 2007, these militant groups formed the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan to coordinate their activities against the American and NATO forces in Afghanistan and against the Pakistan Army in FATA and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

Impact on India

India should learn from the past record of Pakistan’s military power take over and try to strengthen the whole system. And cope up the political instability in India, so that political instability do not hinder growth and development of India like Pakistan.

If Imran Khan and Tahir-ul-Qadri’s politics of disruption ever becomes successful, Taliban’s becomes powerful and gets the center-stage in Pakistani polity. This time in India, with a single party majority government at centre, this may lead to another crisis like situation between the two countries.

Moreover, in Pakistan, due to political instability, there are less feasibility of inclusive growth and development to take place, which in the long run, will keep on preparing the ground for social-political unrests. Due to lack of proper direction in youth they will be exploited by the terror groups. And this can be used as a strong weapon against India.

There are already incidents like 26/11, Parliament attack etc., in this backdrop the current scenario is truly explosive. These kinds of activities will hamper Indian economy and society in direct or indirect manner. Consequently social unrest, in Pakistan, will have an altar ego effect over India.


Balochistan is Pakistan’s largest, but least developed province, which is home to over 13 million people, mostly Balochis.

  • The roots of the conflict go back to the country’s independence. When Pakistan was born in 1947, the rulers of the Khanate of Kalat, which was a princely state under the British and part of today’s Balochistan, refused to join the new nation.
  • Pakistan sent troops in March 1948 to annex the territory. Though Yar Khan, the then ruler of Kalat, later signed a treaty of accession, his brothers and followers continued to fight.

Insurgency and human rights violations

  • There are several separatist groups in the province.
  • The strongest among them is the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), designated as a terrorist group by Pakistan and the U.K.
  • Islamabad has claimed that India is backing the BLA.
  • The Pakistani atrocities in the province had attracted international condemnation.
  • Extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances are the most common practice.

Lack of socio-economic development

  • The Balochi nationalists accuse Islamabad of deliberately keeping the mineral-rich province poor, while
  • Pakistan’s rulers say the pace of development is slow due to insurgency.
  • Attempts by Pakistan government to change the demography.
  • Being denied a fair share of the natural gas revenue.
  • The province remains the most backward of Pakistan.

Big-ticket projects

The province is now holding greater importance in Pakistan’s grand economic and geopolitical strategies.

  •  CPEC passes through Balochistan. China is building Gwadar port in Balochistan.
  • The Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline is also planned to go through Balochistan.


Gilgit-Baltistan is a chunk of high-altitude territory at the northwestern corner of Jammu and Kashmir. The region was a part of the erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, but has been under Pakistan’s control since November 4, 1947.

  • The region was renamed ‘The Northern Areas of Pakistan’, and put under the direct control of Islamabad. The Northern Areas were distinct from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
  • After the Pakistani government enacted the Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order in August 2009, the ‘Northern Areas’ came to be known as Gilgit-Baltistan.

What is Gilgit-Baltistan’s current status?

  • It has an elected Assembly and a Council headed by the Prime Minister of Pakistan. This Council wields all powers, and controls the resources and revenues from the region.
  • Gilgit-Baltistan or Northern Areas do not find any mention in the Pakistani constitution: it is neither independent, nor does it have provincial status. This helps Pakistan maintain ambiguity about the region, in the way it does with PoK.

What is India’s Stand?

  • India sees Gilgit-Baltistan as part of Indian territory illegally occupied by Pakistan.
  • The unanimous parliamentary resolution of 1994 had reaffirmed that the region is a “part of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, which is an integral part of India by virtue of its accession to it in 1947”.

China role

Since the Pakistan-China agreement in 1963 which saw the transfer of the Shaksgam Valley to China, Beijing has been an important player in the region.

  • China constructed the Karakoram Highway linking Kashghar in Xinjiang with Gilgit.
  • China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passes through this region.
  • India has opposed CPEC since it passes through disputed territory of J&K.


Pakistan invited India for talks on Kashmir, saying it is the “international obligation” of both the countries to resolve the issue.

India’s response

  • India rejected Pakistan offer of talk on Kashmir.
  •  India is prepared to talk to Pakistan only about terrorism issues, including the investigation into the

Pathankot airbase attack in January 2016 and the Mumbai 26/11 attacks in 2008, with the addition of a new demand that Pakistan vacate Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) immediately.

Pakistan stands on Kashmir unrest

  • Pakistan sought to escalate tension over Kashmir and called Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani, a “Kashmiri leader” and accusing Indian forces of “extrajudicial killings.”
  • Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had praised Wani and called him a martyr. Besides observing July 19 as a ‘Black Day’ to support the people of Kas/”
    {}hmir, Sharif had said Pakistan would “continue to extend moral, political and diplomatic support for Kashmiris”.


On September 18, a Jaish-e-Mohammad fidayeen group attacked the administrative station of the Indian Army’s 12 Brigade, killing 19 soldiers. Data on GPS sets seized from the slain terrorists suggested Pakistan links.

Fidayeen militants stormed an Army camp in Uri near the Line of Control (LoC). It was the largest attacks on the Army in Kashmir by militants “belong to Jaish-e-Mohammad tanzeem,’’.


  • The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has started the investigation of the Uri terrorist attack.
  • The NIA would collect DNA samples of the terrorists and look at the commonalities in the Uri and the Pathankot air base attacks in January.

Vacuum on the intelligence

  • South Kashmir has been simmering with protests since the killing of Burhan Wani,Hizbul Mujahideen’s commander, in an encounter in July.
  • The three-month unrest has left a huge vacuum on the intelligence front as several areas were put under curfew, affecting the movement of informers.
  • The continuing unrest in Kashmir is affecting the Army’s routine movements and operations as well as intelligence gathering.

Spike in infiltration

  • Not only violent protests, the Valley has also witnessed an unprecedented spike in infiltration bids since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani
  • Infiltrating LeT militants were trying to rope in local boys to emerge as the most influential militant group in the Valley, capitalising on the rising anger and desperation among the youth.

India’s response to Uri attack


  • In the wake of the Uri attack, Indian government has launched diplomatic offensive to isolate Pakistan internationally and in its neighbourhood.
  • India has decided to pull out of the SAARC summit in Islamabad this November, with Afghanistan, Bhutan and Bangladesh deciding to follow suit.

India Summons Pak Envoy: India’s foreign secretary summoned Pakistan High Commissioner and shared evidence of Pakistani involvement in the Uri attack, which Islamabad rejected.

India has decided to review Indus Water Treaty (IWT). Officials made it clear that the IWT will hold, at least for the moment. Instead, the Centre drew up a list of measures to optimise use of the Indus waters that India has so far failed to do.

Review of the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) provisions further indicates that government is determined to demonstrate that it is not business as usual.

In her address at the United Nations General Assembly, foreign minister took on Pakistan on the issue of terrorism. She told the world’s nations that all India has got in response for its peace overtures were cross border attacks. She also took up the issue of human rights violations in Balochistan.

Military response

  • India has carried out surgical strikes targeting “launch pads” for terrorists across the Line of Control (LoC). It is first time India has openly declared that it had carried out surgical strike in side LoC. Similar strike was carried out along Indo-Myanmar border by Indian army against NSCN (K) militants in 2015.
  • Indian commandos entered three kilometres across the Line of Control and conducted the ‘surgical strikes’in Bhimber, Hotspring, Kel & Lipa sectors. The location was 500 meters-2 Km across LoC
  • 7 terror launch pads were destroyed during the surgical strike .
  • The strike across the LoC was reportedly carried out by Para Commandos and Ghatak platoons of the Indian Army

Before we go further deep into the news, let us decode surgical strike for you in quick points:

  1. A surgical strike is a military attack which is intended to demolish something specific or specific target to neutralise it.
  2. It is done with an intention to not harm the surroundings.
  3. No damage is intended to any structure, building etc.
  4. An example of surgical strike is precision bombing which is conducted systematically and with much coordination.
  5. These are methodically planned and coordinated on various levels.
  6. Surgical strike also needs Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) support from the commanders.

What are the wrong lessons to draw from the surgical strike?

  • It does not show that India has “called Pakistan’s nuclear bluff”.
  • No serious analyst, scholar, or military officer ever argued that the threat of nuclear use against Indian forces was salient, or even possible, for operations across the LoC.
  • It is only operations across the international border — and more likely in the desert sector where India’s 21 Corps has a quantitative and manoeuvre advantage over Pakistan’s forces — which present possible targets for tactical nuclear use (such as logistics, bridgeheads, or concentrated armoured forces) where the threat of Pakistani nuclear use becomes salient.
  • The strike does not mean that India can now conduct operations that significantly attrite the Pakistan military or seize valuable territory across the international border.
  • The surgical strike does not herald a new era of conventional retaliatory options for India. This was not evidence that India has a proactive strategy (popularly known as Cold Start) option available for deeper punitive strikes — either on the ground or with air and stand-off capabilities.
  • The Narendra Modi government was very careful not to use helicopters across the LoC, and even the drone that recorded the strike could have easily loitered over Indian territory to do so.
  • This strike should therefore not be read as evidence that India has advanced its so-called Cold Start options.
  • The strike in no way suggests that the government has abandoned strategic restraint as a general grand strategy towards Pakistan.

There is a lot of confusion about what strategic restraint means. Most precisely, it means avoiding operations that risk major conventional escalation: attriting the Pakistan military or seizing valuable territory across the international border.

Strategic restraint does not mean “do nothing”. It means responding in a way that does not potentially become strategically costly for India by risking a broader conventional war, which carries with it not only human and economic costs, but also the risk of nuclear use if the war spills across the international border.

So what, then, are the major implications of the surgical strike?

Although the surgical strike demonstrated immense strategic restraint, it suggests that visibly “doing nothing” militarily may no longer be domestically politically tenable.

  • Although the Indian national security establishment is often given a lot of grief — for one, was there adequate force protection at Uri, and why were the jawans not in fire-retardant tents? — it deserves a lot of credit for how this finely calibrated operation was conceived, planned, executed, and managed.
  • The surgical strike shows Pakistan that it must now consider potential Indian responses in the future. And the nature of those responses may be unpredictable.

Why Pakistan downplayed this attack?

  • Pakistan has denied this operation as a surgical strike because they don’t want it to be full blown crisis. They realize that the international opinion understands the justification that India has in order to carry out such a strike.
  • Pakistan cannot open its nuclear umbrella every time to launch cross border attacks and international opinion needs to understand this. This is a part of overall package of steps that India has taken to examine the premises of its policies towards Pakistan. If Pakistan acknowledges that this was a surgical strike, the army leadership there will be under tremendous pressure to act and it would confirm that Pakistan is a safe haven for terrorists.
  • On the diplomatic front, this operation was fairly organized by Indian Government in order to stop any blow back that India was aggressive, it violated LoC ceasefire etc. This can be said because Indian DGMO conveyed the details of the strike to its Pakistani counterpart thus differentiating Pakistani military from the terrorists.
  • There was also a connection between India and US before the strike regarding exchange of information. Earlier also, such strikes have been carried out but in a covert manner. This time it has taken the limelight because of the outrage that was within India after Uri incident.

Was India’s surgical strike across LoC a strategic mistake?

From military point of view, the surgical strike was limited and was carefully calibrated. Pakistani military installations were not targeted.

The operation was against the terror camps and not against Pakistani army. (Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) telephoned his Pakistani counterpart after the operations ended and conveyed the counter-terrorist intent behind the strike).

However, some quarters have criticized India’s post-strike triumphalism, as it had a negative reputational impact on Pakistani army and for the Pakistan government. Also, such strikes, based on the assumption of Pakistani indulgence is rife with multiple challenges:

  • It would be difficult to fix the degree of complicity of state in an attack within the limited time frame for any retaliatory operation.
  • The local commanders along the LoC on the Pakistani side could misread the assumption and act differently than expected when attacked.
  • Indian side could exaggerate the success of the retaliatory strike. Pakistan could, on the other hand, deny the operation altogether. Trying to exploit a fine balance between the two positions may be setting out on a dangerous course of action.
  • Pakistan’s response: though Pakistan did not acknowledge any strike from Indian side, it is responding by firing on the border and organizing coordinated attacks on Indian Army bases/convoys through its proxies such as the Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba. The LoC and the IB have become the new battlefield
  • Vertical military escalation: While border firing might seem less escalatory than cross-border raids, ceasefire violations are a slow killer: as ceasefire violation-related casualties continue to rise, they could lead to political and diplomatic escalation. Such sustained violations could lead to vertical military escalation.
  • Attacks on army camps: While border firing hurts both parties, low-intensity strikes (for example, Nagrota and Pampore) hurt only India since it loses soldiers in such raids, whereas Pakistan only loses proxies. Some argue that precious lives of soldiers could have been saved if India had not followed an aggressive policy towards Pakistan.
  • Kashmir uprising: Pakistan may continue to fan the Kashmir uprising with even more vigor. This will keep Kashmir on the boil. Pakistan may internationalize Kashmir issue.
  • Collateral damage: lives and livelihood of people living across the border is lost. The year-long violations in 2014, for instance, had displaced them for several months. This is a collateral damage that goes unsung and unacknowledged.
  • Loss of moral high ground: India now enjoys a moral high ground in the international community. Such surgical strikes could hit a blow to this advantageous position.

The strike, however is justified on following grounds:

  • Failure of talks: the diplomatic channels failed to yield results. NSA level talks, foreign secretary level talks did not lead to any stringent action on part of Pakistan to contain any terror attacks on India and to bring terror suspects to books
  • National morale: after the Uri attack, morale of the army and the nation in general had fallen. This will create insecurities and is antithetical to national security and development.

China Pakistan Economic corridor

China Pakistan Economic Corridor, popularly known as CPEC, is an ambitious infrastructure development project of Pakistan in partnership with China. It is a part of Chinese One-Belt-One-Road initiative. It includes country-wide rail-road and gas-pipeline network and development of other transit corridor facilities. The project includes development of a port in Gwadar region, known as Gwadar port; construction of power plants which will generate 4500 MW of electric power.

China Pakistan Economic Corridor Finances

China has included CPEC into its 13th Five Year Plan which proves its importance for China. China has invested a huge sum of 46 billion dollars in Pakistan.

The investment is made in the form of highly subsidized interest loan to Pakistan. Out of this, $ 11 billion of this investment will be dedicated to development of countrywide rail-road transit network connecting Chinese Xinjiang city Kashgar to port city Gwadar.

A loan of $33 billion will be provided to private consortium under the aegis of China Pakistan Economic Corridor for development of energy generation capacity in Pakistan.

CPEC China Pakistan Economic Corridor Project

Gwadar Port and Gwadar City

The construction of a deep sea port in Gwadar region of Balochistan province started in 2002 and and initial infrastructure construction finished by 2006. Now upgrade and expansion of Port is going on under CPEC agreement. Apart from port China has also granted $230 billion build Gwadar International Airport. Apart from this China is also going to invest $4.5 billion on roads, power, hotels and other infrastructure for the industrial zone as well as other projects in Gwadar city.

Gwadar port is connecting point of Chinese ambitious One Belt One Road project and Maritime Silk Route Project.

Economic Impact on Pakistan

Pakistan views the economic corridor as a game changer in Pakistani economic development. It will generate huge revenue for government, boast private sector and industry, build world class infrastructure, attract foreign direct investment, minimize electricity deficiency to zero, supply of enough gas and oil through proposed pipe lines, create better opportunities of employment,

Pakistan has a chronic energy shortage issue and it requires 4500 MW of electricity to alleviate this crisis. Even best of its cities suffering from long power cuts. Under CPEC has private consortium will develop 10,400 MW energy generating capacity by 2020. Most of these plants are coal based but

Pakistan is critically dependent on CPEC and cannot afford losing it in any case. All government machinery, state functionaries, special agencies, media and even military all are unanimously supporting and focused on guaranteeing the success of this China Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Employment Opportunities in CPEC

The CPEC is considered to generate 7,00,000 new jobs in Pakistan, which is essential for Pakistan today in order to bring their young generation in mainstream.

String of Pearls Policy of China

Gwadar port is also seen as a part of China’s strategic policy to contain India in Indian Ocean known as String of Pearls Policy. U.S. consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton was first to mention about this geopolitical theory.

China is building naval bases in the form of various ports in Indian Ocean. China has been denying about any such strategic interest and claiming it as pure economic projects but facts are contrary to Chinese claim.

According to theory, China has been establishing a network of ports, dubbed the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, extending from their own coastlines through Southeast Asia, the Indian Ocean, the east coast of Africa, and up through the Mediterranean to Greece.

China has been working on building 15 ports from Hong Kong to Sudan including Sittwe in Myanmar, Hambantota in Sri Lanka and a Port in Maldives.

string of pearls china cpec

The security concern of India proved to be true when Chinese navy ships came to its Sri Lankan Port, India registered a strong protest against this activity of China in Indian region. With China already building ports in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, the Maldives, and Myanmar, Bangladesh was the last remaining link on a chain that would leave India completely surrounded.

Indian Concern

India has raised its concern to Chinese authorities over construction in Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan occupied Kashmir which is a disputed area between India and Pakistan. Under the aegis of CPEC the Karakoram Highway will be reconstructed and developed to connect China to Pakistan passes through the disputed region.

India was never against CPEC, until Chinese state media started calling Gilgit-Baltistan a Pakistani territory, which is actually a disputed region between India and Pakistan. India believes that a such development projects may address many problems in Pakistan and may bring stability there which is beneficial for the region.

Balochistan Issue and CPEC

Balochistan is least developed province of Pakistan and epicenter of China Pakistan Economic Corridor. Pakistani government has been ignoring the Baloch region since its incorporation into Pakistan. At the time of independence Balochistan was an independent princely state but later Pakistan annexed it.

Since its annexation the demand and struggle for independence is going on which is being suppressed from time to time by excessive use of force by Pakistani military by killing thousands. As Balochistan’s Gwadar city is crux of CPEC but people are raising voice against this project. Pakistan need to build install confidence in Baloch people instead of killing them.

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