Strategic Analysis

Strategic Analysis:
A Monthly Journal of the IDSA

October 1998 (Vol. XXII No. 7)

Indo-Pak Conflict and the Role of External Powers

By Sangeeta Thapliyal *

The Indian subcontinent, by virtue of its geo-strategic location and population, for many years has been a central area of the Great Power struggle for influence. In the course of time, the Cold War rivalry between the two Great Powers percolated down to South Asia. Both the United States and the former Soviet Union have vied with each other for gaining a foothold in the South Asian region. India and Pakistan in the course of their foreign policy utilised the superpowers’ rivalry to their advantage. For example, Pakistan’s willingness to accommodate the American interests not only brought the external power into the subcontinent but also strengthened its confrontationist anti-India stance. Eventually, the Indian act to seek aid from the former Soviet Union brought both the protagonists of the Cold War into the region. The major powers have played a major role in South Asia—in its politics as well as in its economic development. They have created tensions here, and have also helped in resolving some tensions; they have created problems but have kept them from escalating into unmanageable propositions. This paper tries to study the presence of the external powers in the region and their association with India and Pakistan.


Regional Wars or Proxy Wars

The freedom of India and Pakistan from the British rule was the beginning of another era filled with chaos, confusion, hatred, conflict. The people of the two countries feared the social and political turmoil which they had undergone. To make the situation worse, new political, social and economic problems erupted, straining relations between the two countries. For example, the dispute on the sharing of the Indus River waters, immediately after partition, was taken to the World Bank.

However, the most notable feature after partition was Pakistan’s fear of India’s strength which outclasses it in every comparison. Pakistan feared India retaliation for its dissent from the latter whereas India feared the ideological threat from Pakistan which was claiming to be the champion of the Muslims. This was also evident in its claim on Kashmir, Junagarh and Hyderabad. In continuation of its theocratic ideology, Pakistan started pressurising the Maharajah of Kashmir who was undecided about joining either India or Pakistan, to join Pakistan. In 1948, Pakistan sent Waziri and Mansud tribals from the North-West Frontier to free Kashmir from the Hindu Maharajah. India not only countered the attack militarily but also lodged a complaint with the United Nation’s Secretary General on December 30, 1947, against the Pakistani invasion on Kashmir. This led to the appointment of a United Nation’s Commission on India and Pakistan (UNCIP) which proposed ceasefire, demilitarisation and plebiscite by its resolutions of August 13, 1948, and January 5, 1949. Both sides agreed to the ceasefire line in 1949. This 700-km-long line running from Chammb in the south to Ladakh at NJ 9842 point after which there is glacier, provided the future battleground between the two countries in the glaciers. Through the war, Pakistan acquired 5,000 square miles of India’s territory and nearly one million people under its control.

Pakistan wanted to counter the alleged Indian threat by building up its military strength and was not averse to maintaining relations with the Great Powers. 1 This was evident when in 1954 it entered into a Mutual Security Pact with the US which changed the whole context of the problems existing between India and Pakistan. Pakistan proved useful to the US in its policy of Containment of Communism in the region. The US gave Pakistan the first high performance jet aircraft, including F–86 Sabres and 12 F–104 interceptors and hundreds of World War I and Korean War vintage tanks. 2 Prime Minister Nehru was against the involvement of external powers in the bilateral regional issues which would otherwise bring the Cold War politics into the region. 3 The US arms aid to Pakistan became a lasting and irritating issue in Indo-Pak relations, and in response, India started purchasing arms from non-American sources. Moreover, India had inherited only 15 Ordinance Factories from the British in 1947 and the machinery and equipment in these was obsolete and worn out. Hence, for the supply of weapons, reliance on outside suppliers, mainly the UK and later France, had to continue. The UK was the first on the preference list of the suppliers of weapons as the existing arms and equipment were mainly of British origin and it was logical to replace the spare parts from the original source. India’s dependence on England can also be attributed to its non-aligned policy of keeping out of the Cold War politics and it thus avoided purchase of arms either from the USA or the former USSR.

The political stability of South Asia got shaken when the American U–2 spy plane was shot down by the Soviets in May 1960. 4 The plane had reportedly taken off from a Pakistani base. The Soviets constantly issued protest notes to Pakistan that the US air bases in Pakistan had a direct bearing on their security. This increased the Soviet interest in the South Asian region, particularly with India which was less rigid about accepting arms from the Soviet Union after the US arms aid given to Pakistan. The Indo-Soviet relations coincided with the deteriorating Sino-Soviet and Sino-India relations. The Tibetan uprising in 1959 led India to buy transport planes and helicopters from the Soviet Union as the Soviets were prepared to accept payment in Indian currency. In October 1960, an Indian delegation went to Moscow to negotiate and finalise the deal for the purchase of aircraft and communications equipment. The Chinese attack on India in 1962, however, placed the USSR in a delicate position as it was difficult for it not to support a Communist state, Hence, Moscow adopted a neutral position. The US, on the other hand, sent twelve C–130 Hercules transport planes with the crews to help India in transporting its men and materials on the mountainous borders. 5

Pakistan was agitated by the Kennedy Administration’s limited military aid to India during the Sino-India War. President Ayub was convinced that this would upset the Indo-Pak military balance and India might use the arms provided by the US against Pakistan. Pakistan had foreseen the utility of developing relations with China and it declared India as the aggressor against China in 1962. 6 Pakistan treated China as a shield to protect itself from any possible Indian attack. Thus, the Indo-Pak politics took a new turn, with new allies, which brought added tension in the subcontinent.

In the northern front, Kashmir was once again posing a problem. Pakistan had planned to organise a “Kashmir Revolt Day” on August 9, 1965, to mark the twelfth anniversary of Sheikh Abdullah’s arrest and on the same day its forces were to reach Srinagar with machine guns, mortar and other heavy equipment. India retaliated and a full-fledged war erupted which lasted till September 23, 1965. 7 The Indian authorities informed the US about the use of American weapons by the Pakistani forces. Pakistan was under an obligation under the Mutual Security Act, not to use American weapons in aggression against any other country. This led the US government to impose an arms embargo on both the belligerents on September 8, 1965. On the following day, the State Department declared US neutrality in the Indo-Pak conflict.

The arms embargo fell heavily on Pakistan as it was dependent on American supplies. Pakistan felt let down by the US which should have extended help to them as per the assurances given to them when Pakistan joined the South-East Asia Treaty Organisation (SEATO) and Central Treaty Organisation (CENTO). The neutral stand taken by the US during the September 1965 War further infuriated Pakistan as it had expected the US to use its influence to stop the Indian invasion across the international line which threatened Pakistan’s independence.

In order to avoid dependence on one supplier, Pakistan gradually moved towards China. In March 1965, Ayub Khan visited China and secured not only Chou-en-Lai’s assurances of support to Pakistan in the event of an Indian aggression but also military supplies. The interest shown by China in the Indo-Pak subcontinent became a matter of concern to the American policy makers. Therefore, the US lifted the arms embargo partially in 1967 and agreed to sell non-lethal weapons to both India and Pakistan.

During the 1965 War, the Soviet Union adopted a neutral stand and offered its good offices for a peaceful settlement between the two warring states. The Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan met at Tashkent on January 3, 1966. The conference lasted from January 4–10, 1966, at which they agreed to create good relations in accordance with the UN Charter, to promote understanding and friendly relations and a total pull-out of troops before February 25, 1966 to their pre-war positions. 8 Russia emerged as a peace-maker at a time when the US was involved in the Vietnam War.

After the war, the economy of the warring countries was shattered. The attention of the respective governments was diverted towards their internal issues. In Pakistan, troubles mounted in East Pakistan. The elections in Pakistan in December 1970 resulted in the total victory of the Awami League in East Pakistan. The Awami League destroyed the dominance of the Pakistan People’s Party at the central level and this was not acceptable to the ruling elites of West Pakistan. On March 1, 1971, following the replacement of the civilian Governor of East Pakistan by the Martial Law Administrator and the adjournment of the opening of the Constituent Assembly, riots broke out and many Biharis were massacred. On March 25, fresh riots broke out, resulting in the migration of East Bengalis towards India. The Indian government opened its border at the eastern sector for the refugees whose numbers had reached approximately ten million. The increasing numbers of refugees were a great concern to India because of its social and economic fallout.

In order to mobilise the opinion of the world leaders, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi sent letters and emissaries to various Asian and Western governments. On August 9, 1971, the Treaty of Peace, Cooperation and Friendship was signed between the Soviet Union and India. The treaty formalised the Indo-Soviet friendship assuring the former of solid support in and outside the UNO.

The Indo-Pakistan War started on December 3 which also witnessed the active involvement of the Great Powers. The US sent “Task Force 74” headed by the nuclear powered carrier Enterprise and half a dozen other ships into the Bay of Bengal through the Straits of Malacca. An amphibious assault ship, the Tripoli, with a battalion of 800 Marines, three guided missile escorts, four destroyers, a nuclear attack submarine, and an oiler were sent by the US to support Pakistan to change the outcome of the war. Subsequently, the Soviets despatched a force of six vessels to the Indian Ocean. At one time, it looked as if a direct confrontation between the two external powers would take place in South Asia. For the first time, the two superpowers were directly involved in the Indian Ocean over the Indo-Pak conflict. 9 The crisis ended abruptly when Pakistani forces in Dacca unconditionally surrendered to the Indian forces on December 16.

Meanwhile the Indo-Pak conflict was being discussed at the United Nations. The Soviet Union supported the Indian argument that Pakistan had failed to renounce the policy of repression and had not released Sheikh Mujibur Rahman with the intention of finding a solution according to the will expressed by the people of East Pakistan in the elections. Thus, the Soviet Union vetoed all the resolutions in the Security Council which did not aim for ceasefire and recognition of the will of East Pakistan’s population. The American government argued that Pakistan had agreed for the establishment of political autonomy of the Eastern sector after the American mediation in November 1971. In the United Nations, on December 22, 1971, an Argentinian resolution demanding a ceasefire in Kashmir was adopted by thirteen votes without any opposition, though the former Soviet Union and Poland abstained from voting.

After the war, the Government of India tried to resolve the differences with Pakistan on a new and firm basis. In March 1971, India sent a formal note to Pakistan desiring a summit between Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and President Bhutto. Five-day Indo-Pak Summit talks began on June 28, 1972, at Simla. Both sides presented different priorities of items on the agenda but later they agreed to a mutually acceptable draft for the agenda. Agreement was reached on the recognition of the actual line of control of 1971 as the new international boundary between India and Pakistan.

The significance of the Bangladesh War on India’s national security, apart from being militarily strategic, lay in the political and diplomatic spheres. India’s role as a regional power was asserted.

The Indo-Pak subcontinent experienced a rise in defence expenditure soon after the war. India tried to give emphasis on self-reliance in armaments. Pakistan also tried to achieve self-reliance in armaments. It also tried to accumulate weapons from all the available sources. In 1973, the US decided to modify its policy of arms embargo on Pakistan by permitting the sale of non-lethal equipment and spare parts. In 1975, the US lifted the embargo on the supply of arms to Pakistan under the pretext that the Soviet Union had dumped excess arms in India. American fears and assumptions became more intense when India exploded a nuclear bomb in May 1974. This enabled Pakistan to persuade the US to lift the arms embargo. The US had been giving aircraft and airfield equipment to Pakistan under the pretext that India had obtained sophisticated weapons from the former USSR whereas Pakistan had inferior weapons from China and a small quantity from the US. America had been constantly supplying weapons to Pakistan in pursuance of its policy of the Containment of Communism which was further aggravated by the presence of the Soviets in Afghanistan and the collapse of its Iranian ally.

While the withdrawal of the Soviet forces from Afghanistan did not reduce the shared interests between the US and Pakistan, it changed the tenor. Instead of containing Russian influence in the subcontinent, the US is more anxious about containing the growing influence of China, both economically and militarily, in East Asia. The significance of Pakistan in helping to stabilise the internal stability of Afghanistan cannot be ignored which is essentially not only for the peace and tranquillity of the region but also for the vast resources of oil and natural gas in Central Asia which can traverse to Pakistan through Afghanistan. 10 Simultaneously, Indo-US relations improved because of the economic compulsions. India was gradually opening up its market and liberalising its economy and the US companies could accrue benefits from the large Indian market. The Russian policy towards the subcontinent also underwent some changes. Though it had pledged to respect the Treaty of Peace and Friendship with India, it also made efforts to develop relations with Pakistan. Russian Vice-President Alexander Rutskoi visited Pakistan in December 1992 where both sides agreed to cooperate in the field of defence. 11

China is still a key player in providing arms to Pakistan. As Pakistani dependence on US arms reduced after the 1971 War, the Chinese became willing participants in the proposed military collaboration and technology transfers not only to establish military links with Pakistan but also because it helped subsidise their own Research and Development programme. 12 Though Sino-India relations have been moving towards normalisation, China’s weapons supply to Pakistan remains a major concern for India.


Indo-Pak Relations: The Nuclear Gambit

The Indo-Pak relations have reached a new threshold where the arms race has led to modernisation of their weapons and development of nuclear capabilities.

The Indian nuclear programme was given a practical shape in 1948 when an Atomic Energy Commission was set up to advise the government on nuclear issues. The Tata Institute of Fundamental Research took the responsibility to ensure a constant supply of scientists and engineers. In the Ministry of Natural Resources and Scientific Research, a separate Department of Atomic Energy was created in 1954. India strived towards attainment of self-sufficiency in the nuclear programme but this was not possible for a newly independent country to achieve on its own. Negotiations were held with the UK, France, Belgium, Canada and the US for equipment and materials to develop Indian resources. In 1956, India’s first research reactor, Apsara, was commissioned at Trombay which received uranium from the UK. However, Nehru had publicly opposed India developing nuclear weapons and had asserted that nuclear energy would be used for power production.

The Indian nuclear policy underwent changes after the Sino-Indian War in 1962 and the first Chinese bomb explosion in 1964 which forced Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri to dilute the policy of Nehru. Prime Minister Shastri said in Parliament: “I cannot say that the present policy (of nuclear pacifism), is deep-rooted, that it cannot be set aside and that it would not be changed.” This was the first declaration by the Indian government favouring nuclear weapons. 13 Indian anxiety over the Chinese nuclear programme had never diminished since 1964; in fact, with the launching of China’s first nuclear missile in October 1966, Indian concerns became more critical. 14 The Indian debate on the bomb became more intense when China launched its first satellite in 1970. The Indian victory in the Indo-Pak War of 1971 gave a powerful boost to the development of nuclear capabilities. It was believed that the Indian nuclear weapons would compel China and Pakistan to change their attitude of hostility towards India. In May 1974, the Atomic Energy Commission conducted a nuclear explosion at Pokhran in the Rajasthan desert. Though the world community took note of the Indian nuclear capabilities, it was Pakistan which reacted immediately.

Pakistan’s nuclear programme began in the mid-1950s when the Pakistan Energy Commission was set up under the Chairmanship of Nazir Ahmed. The Pakistan Institute of Science and Technology established at Nilore, near Rawalpindi, in 1965, provided research and training facilities for scientists and technicians in the country. In the same year, the Pakistan Atomic Research Reactor was established with the help of the USA and it functions under the safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The Pakistani nuclear programme received a momentum by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. He recognised India as the primary threat and India’s nuclear programme as directly against Pakistan, which became more pronounced in the Pakistani perception after the Pokhran explosion. Pakistan pronounced its nuclear option as a defensive measure to forestall the nuclear blackmail and hegemony of India. 15

The Pokhran explosion had led the US to think about matters of proliferation. In 1977, the US enacted the Symington Amendment, which prohibits aid to countries with uranium enrichment facilities. Simultaneously, on April 6, 1979, the US cut off military and economic aid worth $90 million to Pakistan. Since the Pakistani nuclear programme is being substantially funded by Saudi Arabia and Libya, the Pakistani bomb acquired an “Islamic” or anti-Israeli character. Pakistan’s nuclear linkage with the Arab countries started around 1973 when an agreement was signed with Libya to finance Pakistan’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. 16 Pakistan’s need was purely economic. But the Arab nations wanted an Islamic country with nuclear weapons that could deter Israel. Pakistan kindled in the Arab world the feeling that only the Islamic world does not have a nuclear bomb.

With the presence of the Russian forces in Afghanistan the significance of Pakistan as a frontline state for American interests was once again established, and in the process, the Symington Law was removed in May 1981 for six years and again in 1987 for two years. 17 The US arms sales and military assistance to Pakistan was resumed under the pretext that it would provide a sense of security vis-a-vis India and the US would be able to stall Pakistan’s nuclear efforts.

The US policy towards the region is guided by its own interests. America is opposed to the Indian and the Pakistani moves to go for the nuclear bomb as it could encourage other countries to go nuclear, thus, leading to a breakdown of the existing international nuclear order. The Indian nuclear programme was considered as a weapons programme and the focus was concentrated on stockpiling of fissionable material that the US claimed India was building. Though critical of the Pakistani attempt to develop nuclear capability, the Reagan policy was more favourable towards Pakistan because of the growing crisis in Iran and Afghanistan. The US is critical of the Chinese transfer of technology to Pakistan to manufacture nuclear weapons, and components to make M–11 intermediate range ballistic missile in violation of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). However, during President Clinton’s visit to China in July 1998, the issue was not raised for discussion.

China’s technical assistance to Pakistan in its nuclear programme is of special concern to India. Reiterating the Indian security concerns, the Indian Minister of State for External Affairs, Vasundhara Raje, said in Parliament that the government has communicated its apprehensions to various countries, including China, at a bilateral level about the defence cooperation between China and Pakistan, including supply of materials and technology. 18 Starting with the transfer of technology for building the reprocessing plant at Nilore in 1965 to agreeing to supply heavy water in May 1976, the nuclear cooperation between the two countries has evolved considerably. The Chinese scientists have been visiting Kahuta and China has provided a design of one of its own atomic bombs and enough highly enriched uranium for two bombs. 19 The Chinese technological assistance to the Pakistani nuclear programme is to counter-balance India’s dominance in the region. Much to the liking of China, Pakistan’s role in engaging India on its western border is not diminishing. 20

The year 1998 is crucial for both India and Pakistan which openly expressed their nuclear capability by conducting nuclear tests. On May 11, 1998, India conducted three nuclear tests at Pokhran to be followed by two more sub-kiloton tests on May 13. 21 The international response was critical. The US and Japan imposed economic sanctions. Japan has cut aid worth $26 million to India. The UN Security Council deplored the tests and urged India to refrain from further tests. 22 Chinese President Jiang Zemin accused India of blaming China and Pakistan for their nuclear tests whereas the nuclear cooperation between the two countries is “strictly peaceful in the area of technology of nuclear reactors and all installations concerned are under the control of the International Atomic Energy Agency.” 23 He hoped that Pakistan would not respond to the Indian action but a few days later, Pakistan also conducted six nuclear tests on June 28 and 30. Pakistan claimed that the threat from India propelled it to conduct the nuclear tests. The unsettled Kashmir issue was raised as the bogey of Indian threat and Pakistan’s yearning to acquire nuclear capability. Both countries declared a moratorium on further nuclear tests; however, the focus shifted from the nuclear issue to the Kashmir issue—which has been an irritant since partition in 1947—and the signing of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Pakistan’s former Foreign Minister Gohar Ayub said that the Kashmir issue can lead to a nuclear war between India and Pakistan. He said, “The real flashpoint in the world, as Pakistan has always been saying, is Kashmir where 600,000 Indian forces are carrying out human rights violations.” 24


The Kashmir Issue

The Kashmir issue is the legacy of India’s partition in 1947 when the princely states were asked to join either India or Pakistan. The state of Jammu and Kashmir remained independent during partition and agreed to merge with India when the armed tribesman from Pakistan infiltrated into the state. Since then, Pakistan has raised the issue as a champion of the rights of the Muslim Kashmiris. For Pakistan, the Kashmir issue is not only crucial for its religious ideology of being a protagonist of the Muslims but is also useful in raising the external threat of India ready to wage an armed conflict because of Kashmir. To India, Kashmir is an integral part of its Union. Its integration is important not only because of its strategic significance but also because its disintegration would have a spillover effect on other states leading to the balkanisation of the Indian Union. 25

Pakistan maintains that Kashmir is the prime contentious issue with India and unless it is resolved, cooperation in other areas is not possible. Foreign Office spokesman Tarar Altaf said that unless the root cause (Kashmir) is discussed, the agreed agenda of talks which includes peace, security and confidence building measures would remain ineffective. 26 For India, Kashmir is an unfinished “agenda of partition” which can be fulfilled only after the areas of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, Northern Gilgit and Baltistan are integrated with India. 27 Pakistan’s effort to internationalise the Kashmir issue is not appreciated by India. As discussed earlier, the external powers were indirectly involved in the regional wars (through arms aid) and actively involved in the Security Council, thus, exacerbating the already existing tensions. India wants the Kashmir issue to be resolved bilaterally but Pakistan wants a third party mediation. In fact, the global pressure to resolve the Kashmir issue increased after the nuclear tests by both the regional actors. The US had supported Pakistan in the Security Council, and in 1957, had attempted to introduce a United Nations Force for Jammu and Kashmir which did not come into effect because of the Soviet veto. Britain also supported Pakistan in the Security Council. The Western support to Pakistan over Kashmir was a clear manifestation of their global policy to support the countries willing to counter the Soviets. 28 The US position has been to resolve the Kashmir dispute on the basis of the Simla Agreement. However, after the conduct of nuclear tests by both countries, the American Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, said that the US was “re-examining the underlying political problems between India and Pakistan including Kashmir.” 29 Hitherto, India had been supported by the Soviet Union in the Security Council. However, after the nuclear tests conducted by both India and Pakistan, Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov extended a three-point proposal including the P–5 mediation on Kashmir. The Russian statement is a deviation from its earlier official stand that the Kashmir issue should be discussed between India and Pakistan under the Simla Accord. 30

China had supported Pakistan on Kashmir which had acted as a second front against India with whom it had a border demarcation problem leading to war in 1962. China has always considered it the sovereign right of any nation to develop its own nuclear weapons. 31 However, after the nuclear tests conducted by India, China reacted strongly and urged the US to take stringent measures against India. Pakistan’s efforts to utilise the support of the Arab world has also not met with much success because, India’s relations with the Arab world are cordial and its economic ties are expanding. 32

Pakistan feels that once the Kashmir dispute is resolved, there would be no more contentious issues with India. However, once the issue is resolved, another issue would erupt, keeping Pakistan’s hostile posture against India alive, 33 since this is necessary for its domestic consumption where the people are fed on anti-India slogans. Efforts have been made by Pakistan to link the Kashmir issue with the issues of nuclear non-proliferation and Siachen.

As discussed earlier, the ceasefire line between India and Pakistan stops at Point NJ9842; beyond the point lies the Siachen Glacier after which the border between India and Pakistan has not been demarcated. The glacier opens at the Nubra Valley in Ladakh and can provide access to inimical powers to enter Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir. In 1984, India occupied the commanding heights of the glacier. Since then, Pakistan has been asking Indian forces to withdraw from their positions and accept the boundary as was acceptable in 1972, whereas India insists that Pakistan accept the Saltoro Ridge as the line of control. 34 The contentious issue persists.

Pakistan has also linked its reluctance to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and CTBT because of the Indian reservations on the treaties. India finds the NPT discriminative between the nuclear haves and have-nots. Until recently, Pakistan was prepared to sign the treaty provided India did so. 35 However, in July 1998, Pakistan delinked its reasons for not signing the treaty from India and stated its own security compulsions as the guiding force. This gives an independent status to the Pakistani threat perceptions which need not be guided or propelled by India.


Low Intensify Conflict

The Cold War tensions between India and Pakistan resulted in three wars over Kashmir. However, Pakistan realised that conventional wars would not serve its purpose to bring Kashmir under its fold, and it needed another strategy to counter India. Hence, Pakistan started aiding and abetting a low intensity war against India to liberate Kashmir. Arms and ammunition flow from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) towards Jammu and Kashmir. It is said that President Zia-ul-Haq had put into action a three-phase plan for the liberation of the Kashmir Valley. The plan was codenamed “Topac” after Topac Amru, an Inca prince who fought an unconventional war against the Spanish rule in 18th century Uruguay. In phase one, low level insurgency in India was advocated which included planting people at key positions like police, financial institutions, etc; armed groups to be trained to meet the paramilitary forces; the lines of communications to be disrupted between Jammu and Kashmir; and exacerbation of anti-India feelings. Phase two advocated more intense engagement of the Indian Army in Poonch or Siachen in order to keep them away from the valley, and destroy their base depots, airfields, radio stations and block the Banihal tunnel and Kargil-Leh highway with the help of Afghan Mujahideen from POK. In the third phase, Kashmir had to be liberated from India and an independent Islamic state was to be set up. 36

The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is the main agency to supply weapons, finance, and guidance to the Kashmiri militants. There are nearly 105 training camps in POK and nearly eight on the Pak-Afghan border, handled entirely by the Pakistan Army and the ISI. It is said that the money generated through smuggling of narcotics is used to keep terrorism and insurgency alive. India has been both the target and the transit point for the narcotics. It lies in the middle of the Golden Crescent (Aghanistan, Iran, Pakistan) and the Golden Triangle (Burma, Thailand, Laos) and is also a victim of militancy in Kashmir, the north-east, and, earlier, Punjab. 37 Arms and ammunition are provided from across the border to the Kashmiri militants. However, with greater vigilance by the Indian armed forces on the western borders, Pakistan began to search for new avenues to carry out its activities—like Nepal—to enter India. The Pakistan Embassy in Nepal is reported to be providing financial assistance and transit facilities to the Kashmiri militants. Pakistan has also been cultivating relations with the Muslims of the Terai and India through setting up Muslim organisations which not only impart training and religious education but also foment anti-India activities. The Muslim organisations are funded by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, etc.

The US government acknowledges Pakistan’s involvement in aiding international terrorism but it also pronounces the violation of human rights as a problem in Kashmir. Russia and China are concerned about the rising militancy and Islamic fundamentalism in Pakistan. The spread of fundamentalism in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Jammu and Kashmir can spread to China’s areas lying close to them and exacerbate its already prevalent ethnic problem in the Xinjiang province.



The disputes between India and Pakistan, though regional in nature, were exploited by the Great Powers in their Cold War politics. The root of the Indo-Pak confrontation stemmed from the communal antagonism which was deep-rooted in the demographic distribution of their territories. The national urge to occupy areas with prominent Muslim demographic pattern, notably Kashmir, is one of the primary aims of Pakistani foreign policy and military strategy.

The geo-strategic location of Kashmir with a predominant Muslim population was the paradise and asset that Pakistan was determined to gain. With this strategic view, the war of 1948 was waged in which Pakistan occupied parts of Kashmir. The 1965 War opened with a Pakistani revanche to win over Kashmir and Rann of Kutch. Pakistani diplomacy and military strategy were harnessed to seek active Western assistance, notably the US aid, by projecting the border dispute as a possible Indian hegemonic design abetted by the forces of Communism. After the US arms embargo during the war, Pakistan aligned with China to pursue its national interest of becoming militarily strong to counter India. The Indo-Pak War in 1971 witnessed direct intervention by the US and the former USSR. The main support of the superpowers was displayed in the United Nations. America agreed to the Pakistani demand of plebiscite in Kashmir. The Soviet Union accepted the Indo-Pak partition as legitimate. The superpowers gave the adversaries the needed assistance to go for war with the intention to transform this regional war into a proxy war. The US presence in the Indian Ocean brought in the Soviet naval presence. The 1971 War had witnessed the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea as the theatre of war. Hence, India and Pakistan started building their naval strength which has become a commendable force.

The disintegration of the Soviet Union brought an end to the Cold War politics and a shift in the policies of the US, Russia, and China towards the region. With the global emphasis on geo-economics, the Sino-India and US-India relations have improved which could be affected by the nuclear explosions conducted by India. However, through diplomatic efforts, India has been trying to negotiate with China. The strong business lobby has urged the US not to impose sanctions against India.

Despite the possession of nuclear weapons by India and Pakistan, there is a realisation that the nuclear weapons have only deterrent value and war is not the solution to any problem in the region. Only cooperation can help in fostering peace and cooperation in the region. The intervention of the outside powers has only exacerbated the conflict which can be solved through trust and confidence in each other.



*: Researcher, The Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses.  Back.

Note 1: Refer Ratna Tikoo, Indo-Pak Relations: Politics of Divergence and Convergence (Delhi: National Publishing House, 1987), p. 220.  Back.

Note 2: Refer Nisha Sahai Achuthan, Soviet Arms Transfer Policy in South Asia 1955–81 (New Delhi: Lancers International, 1988), pp. 25–26.  Back.

Note 3: Refer S.P. Shukla, India and Pakistan: The Origins of Armed Conflict (New Delhi: Deep & Deep Publications, 1984), p. 13.  Back.

Note 4: Refer Raghunath Ram, Super Powers and the Indo-Pakistani Sub-Continent: Perceptions and Policies (New Delhi: Raaj Prakashan, 1985), p. 203.  Back.

Note 5: Refer Raghuram, n. 1, p. 216.  Back.

Note 6: Refer Tikoo, n. 1, p. 27.  Back.

Note 7: Refer V.D. Chopra, Genesis of Indo-Pakistan Conflict on Kashmir (New Delhi: Patriot Publishers, 1990), pp. 70–71.  Back.

Note 8: Refer Tikoo, n. 1.  Back.

Note 9: Refer Dieter Brown, The Indian Ocean: Region of Conflict or “Zone of Peace”? (London: Oxford University Press, 1983), p. 31.  Back.

Note 10: Refer S.D. Muni, “The Emerging Cold War in Asia: India’s Options,” Strategic Analysis, vol. 19, no. 12, March 1997, p. 1603.  Back.

Note 11: Shelton U. Kodikra, “South Asian Security Dilemmas in the Post-Cold War World” in Kanti P. Bajpai and Stephen P. Cohen eds., South Asia After the Cold War (Westview Press, 1993), p. 52.  Back.

Note 12: Refer Abba Dixit, “India, Pakistan and the Great Powers” in Jasjit Singh ed., India and Pakistan: Crisis of Relationship (New Delhi: Lancers International, 1990), p. 21.  Back.

Note 13: Bhabani Sen Gupta, Nuclear Weapons? Policy Options for India (New Delhi: Sage Publications, 1983), p. 2.  Back.

Note 14: Refer Shrikant Paranjpe, US Non-Proliferation Policy in Action: South Asia (New Delhi: Sterling Publishers, 1987), p. 22.  Back.

Note 15: Refer Munir Ahmed Khan “Understanding Pakistan’s Nuclear Plan,” Defence Journal, vol. 21, no. 1–2, February-March 1995, p. 42.  Back.

Note 16: Refer Brahma Chellany “The Challenge of Nuclear Arms Control in South Asia,” Survival, vol. 35, no. 3, Autumn 1993, p. 123.  Back.

Note 17: Mirza Aslam Beg “Pakistan’s Nuclear Programme: A National Security Perspective,” National Development and Security, vol. 2, no. 1, August 1993, p. 10.  Back.

Note 18: Refer Hindustan Times, July 17, 1998.  Back.

Note 19: Indian Express, May 2, 1989.  Back.

Note 20: Refer Robert G. Wirsing, India, Pakistan, and the Kashmir Dispute: On Regional Conflict and its Resolution (London: Macmillan Press, 1994), p. 107.  Back.

Note 21: Refer The Pioneer, May 12, 1998 and The Statesman, May 14, 1998.  Back.

Note 22: R. Chakrapani, “UN Council Strongly Deplores Tests” The Hindu, May 15, 1998.  Back.

Note 23: The Tribune, June 4, 1998.  Back.

Note 24: Refer POT (P), vol. 26, no. 139, p. 1688.  Back.

Note 25: Refer Ashok Krishna, India’s Armed Forces: Fifty Years of War and Peace (New Delhi: Lancer Publishers, 1998), p. 10.  Back.

Note 26: Refer POT (P), vol. 26, no. 133, p. 1605.  Back.

Note 27: K.K. Nanda, “Resolving the Kashmir Enigma,” Defence Today, vol. 4, no. 3, July-September 1996, p. 345.  Back.

Note 28: Refer A. Appadorai and M.S. Rajan, India’s Foreign Policy and Relations (New Delhi: South Asian Publishers, 1985), pp. 108–109.  Back.

Note 29: Chidananda Rajghatta “US wants Kashmir on Global Agenda,” Indian Express, June 5, 1998.  Back.

Note 30: Arun Mohanty, “Russia Proposes P–5 mediation in J&K,” The Pioneer, June 4, 1998.  Back.

Note 31: Robert L. Hardgrave Jr., India Under Pressure: Prospects for Political Stability (USA: West View Press, 1984), p. 159.  Back.

Note 32: Refer M.J. Vinod, “Kashmir and India-Pakistan Relations: Problems and Prospects,” Strategic Analysis, vol. 18, no. 8, November 1995, p. 1144.  Back.

Note 33: Refer H.S. Sodhi “Living with Neighbours: Pakistan” Defence Today, vol. 4, no. 3, July-September 1996, p. 334.  Back.

Note 34: Refer Arun Chacko, “Siachen Gunfire on the Glacier,” Indian Express, November 15, 1987, Hindustan Times, November 3, 1992.  Back.

Note 35: Shelton Kodikara, “South Asian Security Dilemmas in the Post-Cold War World” Bajpai and Cohen eds., n. 11, p. 54.  Back.

Note 36: Indian Express, July 8, 1989, and Telegraph, May 25, 1998.  Back.

Note 37: Subhash Kirpekar “Pakistan Working Overtime in J&K,” Times of India, February 5, 1993.  Back.