The Antecedents of Pakistan-India Conflict: Challenges and Prospects for Solution.


Byline: Dr. Tahir Ashraf

Pakistan-India conflict, complex in nature, has its long history. From difference of ideologies and religions, enormous violence and killings during massive migration of masses at the time of partition of the sub-continent in 1947 and division of assets are some important irritants. The Jammu and Kashmir dispute, Siachin glacier dispute, Sir Creek and the Wullar Barrage/Tulbul Navigation Project are additional irritants that have intensified the Pakistan-India conflict. Pakistan-India bilateral relations have hostage by these conflicting issues. The current research looks at conflictual nature of Pakistan-India relationship while explaining the Pakistan-India conflict through the lenses of IR theory. The study has traced origin of the territorial issues like Siachin Glacier Dispute, Sir Creek and the Wullar Barrage. The study has attempted to investigate prospects for solution of these disputes.

This research has also probed initiatives such as the Tashkent Agreement (1966), The Simla Accord (1972) and the Lahore Declaration (1999) to enhance confidence and de-escalate the conflict between Pakistan and India. The primary objective of this research is to analyse the prospects for sustained peace through constructive dialogue and suggesting win-win solution for the arch rival neighbours fortified with nuclear weapons in poverty-stricken South Asia.


Pakistan and India are indulged in conflicts since their independence in 1947. They have adversarial relationship since their inception. Pakistan-India conflict is preoccupied with burden of history, partition process, role of religion, different ideologies and nationalism. Consequently, this conflict has resulted into what T.V. Paul terms "enduring rivalry."1 To analyze the causes of conflict in South Asia, various reasons comprising ofcommonperceptions and mistrust, self-image and image of 'others', the role of historians, the role of foreigners and the opposingstrategicinterests.2 Development of South Asia has become hostage to India-Pakistan conflict because it is vital cause behind the economic backwardness and instability of the region. South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), founded in 1985, has not produced anticipated results due to bilateral conflict between two main economies of South Asian region i.e. India and Pakistan.

The most intractable conflict in South Asia is Pakistan-India, which emerged with departure of the British. Though issues like Sir Creek, Siachin, Wullar Barrage, and terrorism exist yet Kashmir dispute can be considered the underlying cause of the Pakistan-India conflict.

Pakistan-India Conflict from the Prism of International Relations Theory

Before going to explain the sources of the Pakistan-India conflict especially territorial issues like the Kashmir, Siachen and Sir Creek, it is pertinent to look at the Pakistan-India conflict from the prism of international relations theory (henceforth IR theory). The Pakistan-India conflict has been explained from contending theoretical lenses of international relations. This section focuses on the theoretical explanation of Pakistan-India conflict especially the dominant paradigm of IR theory i.e. neorealism. Also, the section makes an attempt to identify any alternative explanation from the existing theoretical sources. This section ends with functionalist explanation of resolution of Pakistan-India conflict. International politics, according to realism, is seen as conflictual in nature where all states maximize their powers and secure their interests in terms of their survival.

Realism views international politics as driven by international environment that influences state's actions.3 Therefore, international relations or inter-state relations, determined by actions of other states, are all about survival. And, cooperation between the states is on the basis of relative gains.4 Rajagopalan explains Pakistan-India conflict with the neo-realist perspective because the Pakistan-India conflict is rooted in natural imbalance of material power between Pakistan and India.5 This imbalance resulted into Pakistan's insecurity that became as main cause of the Pakistan-India conflict. Though all realists consider anarchical nature of international system as the main cause behind 'security dilemma' and war yet classical realists term 'human nature' as key variable in explaining states' behaviour in pursuing of power. However, Kenneth Waltz' neo-realism focus on the influence of international system in explaining the international politics and the behaviours of the states.6

Sridharan contradicts the neo-realist explanation of the Pak-India conflict and argues that the"nuclear behaviour of Pakistan and India do not match to the probabilities of the deterrence theory or of neo-realism"7 on the basis of three factors namely Indian late response to China's nuclear initiative in the presence of state threat from China, Indian sluggish process of weaponization and deployment against Pakistan's overt nuclear threat and India's failure to defend itself against the likelihood of a disarming counter proliferation strike by China or Pakistan.8 Pakistani and Indian geopolitical interests have always barred them from effective participation in the course of regionalization of South Asia. According to Barry Buzan, Regional Security Complex Theory is described as "a group of states where primary security concerns link together sufficiently closely that their national securities cannot reasonably be considered apart from one another."9

Consequently, owing to geopolitical concerns Pakistan and India have obstructedeffectiveperforming of SAARC. Till recent past what Indian policy towards its South Asian neighbours reveals the condition what Hedley Bull termed, as "the earnestworries of smaller units in the global system".10 Mohammed Ayoob argues that the international order for the third world is characterized by more hierarchy than anarchy and the internal order by more anarchy than defined hierarchy.Subaltern realism discourses lack of any theory of state in neo-realism and its negligence of national variables concerningorder and conflict.The increase of international conflicts is an extension of the multiplying of domestic conflicts in unindustrializedcountries and can only be elucidated as the outcome of the procedure of state-building and nation-making.11

The process of state-building intermingles with the dynamics of regional equilibriumsand with transnational power competitions and global norms. Consequently, this process exportsinternaldisagreements to the globalstructure. This study argues for explanation of the managing of Pakistan-India conflict through the lens of neoliberalism, particularly using Functionalism proposed by David Mitrany and Ernst B Haas.12Regarding the resolution of the Pakistan-India conflict, this study attempts to investigate the relevance of functionalism in managing the Pakistan-India conflict. Neo-liberalism explained International Relations when economic cooperation between western European states stemming from coal and steel started to expand in other sectors. According to Neo-liberalism, military force remained no longer an instrument of foreign policy.13Economic and social affairs have replaced issues of security and survival.14

Functionalism explains how economic cooperation at lower level paves the way for economic cooperation at higher level.15 This study uses functionalism regarding the management of Pakistan-India conflict. Resultantly, the study finds that Pakistan and India can initiate confidence building measures in various fields like culture, economic connections and address the less controversial issues like Sir Creek and Siachen while the thorny issues like Kashmir Dispute should be discussed afterwards.

Kashmir Issue and Pakistan-India Conflict

The territory of Jammu and Kashmir is located in the northwest area of SouthAsia and shares boundaries with India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and China.It has an area of 85,806 square miles, which is separated by a line of control mutually agreed by Pakistan and India in 1972. An area of 46,916 square miles, in the North and West, is under Pakistan control while remaining area of 38,829 square miles is under the Indian Control.16 As per 1941 census, the total population of the state of Jammu and Kashmir was 4,021,616. 77 percent of this populace were Muslims, 20 percent were Hindus, 3 percent Sikhs and others while the 1981 Indian census showed the total population of the Indian controlled Kashmir was 5,987,389. It comprises of 64.2 percent Muslims. 32.25 percent Hindus, 2.23 percent Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians and Jains.17 Rinchan, a Budhist ruler of Kashmir embraced Islam in 1320.18 The Muslim rule lasted for five centuries from 1320 to 1819.

In 1820, Ranjit Singh confirmed Gulab Singh as Raja of the State of Jammu. This provided the base to Gulab Singh who proceeded rapidly to build up a small empire of his own. He captured Ladakh and Baltistan in 1830's and 1840 respectively. Due to his neutrality during the first Anglo-Sikh War, the British granted Gulab Singh the dominion over the valley of Kashmir.19 In 1846 the Sikhs had been indebted to cede Kashmir to the East India Company. However, the Governor General, Harding instantlyshifted it to the ruler of Jammu under the Treaty of Amritsar of 16 March, 1846 for the sum of Rs.75,00,000 (about 500,000 British Pound).20 In this way the Dogra Dynasty was established at Jammu and Kashmir in 1846, which lasted till 1947. Kashmir was one of the 562 princely states. Under the partition plan, all princely states were given two options either to accede to India or to Pakistan.

However, rulers of these princely states were supposed to make their decisions keeping in view the geographical contiguity as well as aspirations of the population of their states. In 1947 the Muslims...

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