Trends in Indo-Pakistan Relations

Sumita Kumar, Research Officer, IDSA



Relations between India and Pakistan are going through one of the worst phases ever since the signing of the Simla Agreement in 1972. Indo-Pakistan relations have seen more low points than high points in the last three decades. However, each time the two countries were at loggerheads on any problem area, the various irritants were absorbed and a decision made to take things forward in a positive manner. If we focus on the last few years, it becomes apparent that bilateral discussions between the two countries stopped after January 1994. This was not only due to tensions between the two countries but also because of compulsions of domestic politics. Even though political leaders on both sides, reiterated their willingness to resume talks over the next couple of years, the atmosphere between the two countries only became conducive for such an exercise in March 1997, when Pakistan-India foreign secretary level talks were held in New Delhi after a gap of three years. While the contrasting approaches of the two sides were evident even at this meeting, there was a ray of hope at the resumption of the negotiating process. The real breakthrough came in May 1997, when Indian Prime Minister I.K.Gujral met Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at Maldives. They took a number of decisions like agreeing to release prisoners from each other's countries, agreeing to establish a hotline between both of them, and most importantly, agreeing to establish working groups to address various outstanding issues upon which the two countries disagreed.

These decisions seemed to augur well for relations between the two countries. It was widely believed that Indo-Pakistan relations were definitely on the mend, especially when foreign secretary level talks were held in Islamabad in June 1997, where it was decided that working groups would be set up to address outstanding issues of concern to both sides. However, this high in relations was not an indication of future trends and it soon became apparent that the two countries could not agree on the mechanics of forming the working groups at appropriate levels in order to take the negotiation process forward. Over the next few months, Islamabad and New Delhi did display their commitment to the dialogue process through various acts of goodwill, like releasing fishermen in each other's custody, easing of travel restrictions etc. However, actions such as these slowly became overshadowed by tensions due to exchange of firing along the LOC in August-September 1997. Foreign secretary level talks were held in New Delhi in September 1997, Nawaz Sharif and I.K. Gujral met in New York in October 1997, Shamshad Ahmad and K.Raghunath met in October 1997 on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Conference in Edinburgh, and I.K. Gujral and Nawaz Sharif met on the sidelines of the trilateral summit at Bangladesh in January 1998. However, no breakthrough was made at any of these meetings due to divergent perspectives on how to approach the working groups issue. Also the political uncertainty in New Delhi due to the toppling of the United Front government placed further discussions on hold. Efforts to return to the negotiating table between the new Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee and Nawaz Sharif did not bear fruit as Pakistan refused to resume talks unless there was substantive negotiation on the Kashmir issue.

Indo-Pak interaction acquired a new context with the nuclear tests of May 1998 when relations hit a new low. Pakistan tried to project the South Asian region as a nuclear flashpoint in the aftermath of the tests and sensitised the Kashmir question by linking it with the nuclear tests. The extreme bitterness and tension between India and Pakistan in the period after the nuclear tests, did bring with it the realisation on both sides that things could not continue in the same manner indefinitely and that a meeting ground had to be found. Things started looking up again as Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee met Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at New York in September 1998. It was decided that foreign secretary level talks would be held between India and Pakistan, and a direct bus service between Lahore and Delhi was proposed. The talks at foreign secretary level held in October and November 1998 did not make concrete advances on major issues. Yet the fact that talks took place held promise for future interaction.

Indo-Pakistan relations hit an all time high with Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee's bus diplomacy, immediately after which there was tremendous goodwill between the two countries. Several issues were concretised in the shape of the various agreements signed at that time. It seemed that the only way to go was "forward." Pakistan's façade of friendliness was completely shattered when the Kargil war ensured the complete breakdown of the high level of trust and goodwill created at Lahore. India's faith was completely lost in any future overtures that may be made by Pakistan. India found its resilience being tested yet again as the Indian Airlines flight was hijacked and taken to Kandahar by Pakistani backed Harkatul Mujahideen. This contemptuous act was the final straw in pushing Indo-Pak relations to their lowest ebb since 1972.

At this moment, it becomes important to not only have an overview of the relationship between the two countries, but also where they may be headed in the forseeable future. In this paper an attempt has been made to focus on critical events which have had a bearing on Indo-Pakistan relations in the last two years, and in that context, examine the future trends.

The Context

No understanding of trends in Indo-Pakistan relations can be complete without understanding the Simla Agreement which is the benchmark of relations between India and Pakistan. It is the Simla Agreement which defines the basic parameters according to which Indo-Pakistan relations have been conducted in the past, and it will hopefully be defining the parameters in the future as well. It is therefore necessary to take a brief look at the provisions of the Simla Agreement to the extent that they have a bearing on critical events in the last two years.

As per the Simla Agreement, the Line of Control, indicating the position of the two armies on the day of cease-fire i.e.December 17, 1971 was delineated by designated military commanders of India and Pakistan. The Simla Agreement desired that, the sanctity of the Line of Control was to be maintained by both sides and both sides agreed that "neither side shall seek to alter it unilaterally, irrespective of mutual differences and legal interpretations." Also, there was a commitment by both countries to respect each other's "territorial integrity and sovereignty" as well as to solve problems between the two countries by peaceful means. The two countries also agreed, "That in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations they will refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of each other." While talks on Kashmir have been held on and off and India had agreed to the concept of a "composite dialogue" the Pakistani army still preferred to violate the LOC and commit aggression against India, violating the very foundations of the Simla Agreement.

Another important aspect of the Simla Agreement to be borne in mind is that the unwritten part of the Simla understanding between then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and then Pakistani President Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, was that the LOC would be converted into an international border in due course. This, in a sense meant that even though such an agreement i.e., converting the LOC into an international border, had not yet been arrived at, the LOC was to have the sanctity of an international border.1

In another important clause of the Simla Agreement, both India and Pakistan, agreed to "settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations or by any other peaceful means mutually agreed upon between them." Pakistan has been resorting to internationalisation of the Kashmir problem at NAM, OIC, ECO and UN meetings. It has been accusing Indian security forces of violating human rights in Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan, in contravention of the Simla Agreement has urged various countries to mediate between India and Pakistan.

While the Simla Agreement can be regarded as having maintained peace between the two countries and in Jammu and Kashmir for a period of nearly two decades, that peace was broken by Pakistan's proxy war which was launched by "Operation Topac" in 1989.

Ever since 1947, Pakistan made several attempts to seize Kashmir from India, as Kashmir's accession to India remained unacceptable to Pakistan. Pakistan tried to achieve its objective in 1947 by engineering a tribal invasion of Kashmir, which resulted in the Kashmir war of 1947-48. Pakistan tried to achieve the same objective through 'Operation Gibraltar' in 1965 but failed to wrest Kashmir from India. In 1971, when decisive Indian military intervention in the civil war between the two wings of Pakistan helped in the creation of Bangladesh, Pakistan again hoped that Kashmir would be detached from India through the use of force. Pakistan failed to achieve its objective. The military option, one hoped was finally dumped. From July 1972 onwards after the Simla Agreement, the Kashmir situation upto 1989 was peaceful except for the dismissal of the government on the Indian side.

As Pakistan did not succeed in wresting Kashmir from India by the use of military force during the three wars, in the latter half of 1988, Pakistan launched a low intensity operation to create alienation of the Valley from the rest of India. Pakistan abetted full-scale subversion, terrorism, insurrection and insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir. India's belief is borne out by available reports which are based on the findings of various international agencies. The proxy war by Pakistan was stepped up in 1990. Between 1990 and 1998, 5,845 civilians were killed in Jammu and Kashmir while the figure for security forces killed is 1,401. Moreover, large quantities of weapons were found in Jammu and Kashmir from 1988 to 1997. These include 18,378 AK-47s and 2,015 LMGs.2 The Pakistanis were convinced that such a form of unconventional war would help reinforce and channelise the discontent in the Valley and over a period of time, lead it in the direction of secession from India.

The obvious involvement of Pakistan in the Kashmir Valley, in the form of a methodically planned proxy war, has been a part of Pakistan's scheme to bleed India of its resources without having to get involved in an open conventional military confrontation. In the early years, the most active militant group was the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front. However, by 1989-1990, JKLF began to be sidelined by Pakistan as JKLF's favoured "third option", implying independence for the Kashmiris was inconsistent with Pakistan's definition of "self-determination" for the Kashmiris which implied a willingness to join Pakistan. At this time, the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, which was the military wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami came up as a rival to the JKLF. Over the years it became obvious that Pakistan was suffering a setback, due to the fast declining Kashmiri support in the Valley to militancy, and things were fast approaching normalcy in Indian Kashmir by 1995-1996. In fact, militant activity gradually shifted to new areas such as Doda, Punch and Rajouri, as the Indian security forces came to have almost complete control of the security situation in the Kashmir Valley. After 1995-1996 the role and participation of foreign militants of Pakistani, Afghanistani and POK origin increased in the Kashmir Valley. In recent years, the Harkatul Mujahideen militants have been involved in fighting in Kashmir. The Harkatul Mujahideen is just a new front for the Harkatul Ansar which was declared a terrorist organisation by the US in 1994.The Harkatul militants operate in Afghanistan and Kashmir, and have strong links with the Jamiat-ul-Ulema-Islam (JUI), as well as the Sipahe Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) in Pakistan.The Lashkar-e-Taiba another dominant militant group which sends its recruits to battle in Kashmir, is the militant wing of the Markaz Dawa wal Irshad, an Ahle Hadith-Wahabi organisation based in Muridke, near Lahore. The Hizbul Mujahideen operates in Kashmir and has strong links with the Jamaat-e-Islami.3

It was in this background of about ten years that the two countries exploded their nuclear devices which started a new phase in relations between India and Pakistan.

The New Phase: Post-Pokhran, Post-Chagai

India-Pakistan relations acquired an entirely new dimension with India conducting its nuclear tests on May 11 and 13, 1998 and Pakistan responding with its own nuclear tests on May 28 and 30. In the midst of vigorous international criticism of both India and Pakistan and demands on both that further tests be abandoned and both countries sign the CTBT, Pakistan did not hesitate to indulge in mudslinging against India for having raised the level of the arms race in the region and for not doing enough to resolve the Kashmir question. India on the other hand, displayed considerable understanding of the motives of Pakistani tests and offered a No-First-Use Agreement. Pakistan while rejecting the No-First-Use proposal by India offered instead a Non-Aggression Pact which India described as irrelevant because of the existence of the Simla Agreement. Pakistan's continuous refusal to consider India's proposal pertaining to no-first-use of nuclear weapons confirms suspicions that Pakistan considers nuclear weapons as not merely means of deterrence but weapons of war which it would not hesitate to use if the need arose. Pakistan's Foreign Secretary, Shamshad Ahmad, during the Kargil crisis stated that, "We will not hesitate to use any weapon in our arsenal to defend our territorial integrity."4 This factor is amply brought out in General Musharraf's posturing since his takeover.

Pakistan in the post Chagai period actively tried to link the nuclear tests with the Kashmir question, by suggesting that Kashmir being an unresolved issue which has been the cause of frequent wars in the past is now pregnant with the possibilities of a nuclear conflict in the subcontinent. This has been projected by Pakistan as a good enough reason for third party mediation in the Kashmir dispute and Pakistan has been openly making a bid for intervention by the United States, United Kingdom, China, Japan and other countries. India continues to take the position that Pakistan and India between themselves are capable of resolving this dispute bilaterally, also because this is the approach agreed upon by the two countries in the Simla Agreement.

India has been emphasising the fact that both the countries have succeeded in avoiding a war since 1972 despite the fact that Pakistan has had a nuclear weapons capability since 1987 and India since about the same time or later in 1990. There has been a view among senior military leaders in Pakistan that once Pakistan acquired nuclear weapons, this would neutralise Indian conventional military superiority. It would then be possible for Pakistan to snatch Kashmir from India through irregular warfare under the nuclear umbrella without India being able to impose any punishment on Pakistan for the acts. "A Pakistani nuclear capability would paralyse not only the Indian nuclear decision, but also Indian conventional forces, and a bold Pakistani strike to liberate Kashmir might go unchallenged if Indian leadership was indecisive."5 Former Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Aslam Beg, stated in a seminar that in spite of the battle over Kashmir raging for the past many years, "we have no fear of war, which has been possible because of the nuclear deterrence which exists today in the subcontinent."6 The launching of the proxy war in Kashmir in 1988 following the acquisition of the bomb and subsequent escalation of the militancy in December 1989 proved this assessment. When both the countries went overtly nuclear in May 1998, Pakistan hoped that its nuclear weapons would deter India from responding to any act of aggression by it in Kashmir. However, despite Pakistan's nuclear weapons, India took on the Pakistani challenge in Kargil and gave a befitting reply. In a sense, the Pakistani bluff was called and India gave clear proof of its determination that it will not brook any violation of its borders, whether there are any nuclear weapons or not in the hands of the enemy.

There has been considerable ambivalence in Pakistan's attitude, on the question of signing the CTBT. In response to external pressures (from the United States, China etc.) that both Pakistan and India should sign the CTBT, India has taken the position that it would not be averse to signing the CTBT subject to negotiations on some of its provisions. Pakistan on the other hand stays with the position that it would sign the CTBT if India does so, even though in July 1998 there were reports that it would delink its attitude towards the CTBT from that of India. Besides, Pakistan's main focus has been on advocating to India a regional test ban treaty. India rejected this idea on the ground that a regional test treaty is not adequate to meet its concerns which are primarily centered around global non-proliferation and which also want to ensure a nuclear abstinence on the part of China.

Dialogue Process in the Post Nuclear Phase

It becomes important to take a look at the impact of the nuclear tests on the process of dialogue between the two countries. In a climate of newly created tension and suspicions in the wake of nuclear tests by India and Pakistan, both countries felt the need to talk to each other at sufficiently high levels to find a meeting ground and to instill mutual confidence. The dialogue process between India and Pakistan could not be resumed in June 1998 as the two could not agree on the modalities for talks. There was a difference in the interpretation of the June 23,1997 agreement which was signed between the foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan, in Islamabad. This difference occurred over whether the working groups were to address all issues between India and Pakistan, or whether peace and security and Kashmir would be discussed by the foreign secretaries themselves. The earliest opportunity available after that was at the SAARC Summit in Colombo which was held in end July 1998. Both Prime Minister Vajpayee and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif stated that they would like to utilise the opportunity to hold a meeting on the margins of the summit to have a candid exchange of views on the post nuclear security situation and if possible agree on a framework of official level talks in the near future. However, the talks held between July 29 and July 30 ended in a stalemate. Meanwhile, the intermittent firing exchanged between Indian and Pakistani troops across the line of control during July 1998 and beginning of August further vitiated the atmosphere between the two countries. Hopes for meaningful interaction between Vajpayee and Nawaz Sharif at Durban on the sidelines of the NAM summit came to naught as Nawaz Sharif stayed away due to domestic compulsions. However, Pakistani Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz held fruitful talks with Indian Minister of State for External Affairs, Vasundhara Raje, on the sidelines of the summit, and on September 3, it was announced that India and Pakistan had agreed on the modalities for resumption of foreign secretary level talks.

The deadlock in Indo-Pakistan relations was finally broken when Vajpayee met Nawaz Sharif at New York on September 23, 1998 during the UN General Assembly session. It was agreed that the two foreign secretaries would meet in Islamabad from October 15, 1998 to focus on Kashmir and peace and security, including confidence building measures, which were the first two items on the eight point agenda finalised in June 1997, during the foreign secretary level talks in Islamabad. Following this there would be a series of meetings in November 1998 to discuss the six other items on the agenda. The New York meeting also resulted in a host of CBMs. For instance, telephone hotlines between the two prime ministers were to be restored, trade and people to people contact were to be enhanced, the railway link between Kokrapar (Pakistan) and Munnabao (Rajasthan) was to be restarted, a direct bus service between Delhi and Lahore was proposed, visa rules were to be relaxed, and efforts were to be made to stop cross border firing.7

The October round of talks in Islamabad did not achieve any major breakthrough, except that the process of dialogue received an impetus. India and Pakistan reiterated their known positions on Kashmir, but agreed to meet again and carry forward the dialogue at the next round of talks between the two foreign secretaries. The Indian side proposed a no-first-use of nuclear weapons agreement, ensuring reliable communication links and greater transparency between the two sides through extending the hotline between the two Directors General of Military Operations to divisional and sector commanders, reviving the hotline between the two foreign secretaries, giving advance notice of missiles tests of over 200 km range and extending the existing agreement on non-attack on each other's nuclear installations to cover economic and population centres, renewal of the invitation to the Pakistani Army Chief to visit India and exchange of officers between the two National Defence Colleges. The Pakistani side spoke of a non-aggression pact, mutual nuclear and ballistic restraint while it remained cool to the no-first-use proposal.8 The November talks in New Delhi became bogged down due to the usual accusations and counter accusations hurled by India and Pakistan towards each other.

The New Delhi round of talks held in November 1998, included six issues which were Tulbul navigation project, Siachen, Sir Creek, trade, terrorism and drug trafficking and cultural exchanges. With regard to the Tulbul navigation project, the Pakistani Foreign Office spokesman, Tariq Altaf, on his return to Pakistan, accused India of trying to "justify" its "violation" of the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty and rejecting Pakistan's move to settle the dispute through arbitration.9 During the talks, Pakistan rejected India's proposal for a ceasefire in Siachen, wanting instead to address the question of troop disengagement in the area. Pakistan, during the eighth round of talks on Siachen in November, called for the "redeployment of troops." According to Pakistan, troop pullback should be considered on the basis of the 1989 "agreement". India proposed a package of confidence building measures which would lead to a "comprehensive ceasefire" in the Saltoro range region." India also wanted a "freeze" on the ground positions of troops from both sides to "immediately defuse tension and atmosphere of confrontation in the area." Once the ceasefire had been agreed to in principle specific "modalities" which would make it durable could be discussed in an "agreed framework." It was suggested by India that both sides could establish a "bilateral monitoring mechanism." New Delhi did not agree with the Pakistani proposal of placing an "international monitoring mechanism" to supervise the ceasefire in the Siachen area.10

India rejected Pakistan's bid to internationalise the Sir Creek issue, reiterating that all differences between New Delhi and Islamabad after the Simla Accord have to be resolved bilaterally. Wanting to arrive at an early resolution of maritime boundaries, India proposed a new formulation which delinks the charting of maritime frontiers from fixing the land boundary in Sir Creek. India proposed that the two sides should delimit the maritime boundary from the "seaward" side. The two sides could proceed towards land from the extremity of the EEZ limit to a "mutually acceptable limit." Pakistan rejected this approach and insisted that the determination of the land boundary in the Sir Creek area and fixing its maritime borders were inseparable.11 India and Pakistan discussed a wide range of economic and commercial issues. However, Pakistan insisted that progress in these areas would be restricted till an environment of "peace and security" was created between the two countries. The talks on bilateral economic cooperation were held for the first time since 1989. The Indian side stressed upon the need to be accorded MFN status by Pakistan, which is obligatory under the rules of the World Trade Organisation. It was suggested that till this came about, Pakistan could consider increasing the list of commodities importable from India.12 India rejected Pakistan's suggestion of involving the United Nations Military Observer Group (UNMOGIP) or any other international observer along the border in Jammu and Kashmir to verify India's allegations regarding its involvement in cross-border terrorism. India asserted that Pakistan was involved in "destabilising" it by sponsoring terrorism within India. Pakistan countered India's allegations by saying that New Delhi was behind the sectarian strife in its cities. It denied providing material support to Kashmiris and said it was unaware of any terrorist training camps on its soil.13 On the issue of promotion of friendly exchanges in various fields, India put forth 22 detailed suggestions in the field of art, culture, youth affairs, sports, information and media. The Pakistani delegation promised to consider the proposals during the next round of the dialogue process.

The November round of talks became bogged down due to the usual accusations and counter accusations hurled by India and Pakistan towards each other. In some situations they were not able to move beyond their often stated positions. Pakistan showed its tenacity in trying to bring in third party intervention into what should be bilaterally resolvable issues. However, the effort on both sides to discuss a wide range of issues was itself commendable. There was some amount of progress in the November talks which can be measured by a number of positive developments. Both countries set up technical committees on the supply of surplus power to India. Certain proposals by India to avoid double taxation were under consideration. The Pakistani proposal for setting up a mechanism for quick information flows on trade and investment was agreed to by India. Pakistan agreed to ensure that visas were issued to Indians within six weeks and that there would be no delay. Both countries agreed to set up a mechanism for regular meetings and exchange of operational information between the Central Bureau of Investigation and Federal Investigating Agency of Pakistan, "for expeditious assistance to each other for combating various kinds of crimes including counterfeiting of currency and cyber crimes."14 Also there was progress on the proposal for introduction of a bus service between Delhi and Lahore. Both countries agreed to release fishermen in each others custody.

Lahore Bus Diplomacy

The next landmark in Indo-Pak relations was the Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee's visit to Lahore on February 20-21, 1999 on the inaugural run of the Delhi-Lahore bus service. There was an increasing realisation on the part of both Nawaz Sharif and Vajpayee that improvement of relations between the two countries had to be a priority. There was a major effort on the part of both to kick-start such a process and give it direction. Nawaz Sharif being a businessman realised the untapped potential of economic cooperation between the two countries.

The momentum for Vajpayee's visit was generated when the two governments went ahead with the Cricket Test Series despite right wing opposition in both countries. Also, not only was the "hockey diplomacy" between the two countries successful, the delegation of Indian MPs to Islamabad for a parliamentarians' meet organised by the Jung group of newspapers did a fair share to promote confidence between the people of India and Pakistan. Before that, faced with a shortage of sugar, the Indian government cleared imports worth Rs.387 crore from Pakistan. Negotiations between the power ministry officials from both sides led to an agreement for export of 300 MW of power annually to India from Pakistan.

The Lahore Summit led to the signing of the Lahore Declaration by the Prime Ministers of Pakistan and India on February 21,1999, the issuing of the Joint Statement by India and Pakistan, and the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan. Both the Lahore Declaration and the MOU referred to mutual adherence to the principles of the UN Charter, as also contained references to the implementation of the Simla Agreement.15 Both the Lahore Declaration and the MOU agreed to the resolution of all outstanding issues, including that of Jammu and Kashmir. While New Delhi conceded simultaneity in terms of bringing talks on Kashmir onto the agreed agenda, along with other areas of mutual benefit, Islamabad conceded bilateralism. The reference to the "composite and integrated" dialogue process implied that it would not be hostage to any single issue.16

Prime Ministers Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Nawaz Sharif, at the end of their summit announced a number of steps including nuclear confidence building measures, for "prevention of conflict" between the two countries. They also agreed that their respective governments reaffirmed their condemnation of terrorism and their determination to combat this problem. The two governments agreed to give advance warning to the other when conducting ballistic missile flight tests. Seeking to minimise the potential of freak nuclear accidents, the two countries agreed to alert the other immediately in case of any "accidental, unauthorised or unexplained incident" on the other side. They also agreed to abide by their unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing. The level of bilateral talks was raised to the Foreign Minister level and the composite dialogue between the two countries' foreign secretaries was to continue. Travel restrictions were to be modified, making people to people contact easier. At a joint press conference the two Prime Ministers said all nuclear issues, including the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and a joint strategy for a nuclear weapons free world were discussed. Sharif told newsmen, that Pakistan would hold consultations with India on the issue of granting most favoured nation treatment to New Delhi under the WTO framework.

While hopes were high after the summit both sides had to come down to earth soon. Nawaz Sharif could not be seen to be softening his stance on Kashmir in undue haste. Nawaz Sharif, barely a week after the summit in Lahore, stated, "There would come a time when the talks would have to be superseded in case there is no concrete development in solving the Kashmir issue."17 Pakistani Foreign Secretary, Shamshad Ahmed, stated, soon after the meetings, that Pakistan is not to blame for the bloodshed in Kashmir. This was in reaction to comments by Vajpayee, who on returning to New Delhi, on February 21, from Pakistan, said that relations between the two neighbours could only improve when killings by Muslim separatists in Kashmir ended. The happenings in Indo-Pakistan relations after Vajpayee's visit give an idea of the existing contradictions present in relations between the two states. Nawaz Sharif brought up the Kashmir issue when he made a statement that Mr Vajpayee had agreed with Islamabad's view's that the people of Kashmir should have the right of self-determination. This statement was refuted by the Indian PM's office. Again at Dhaka, where Nawaz Sharif had gone for the D-8 summit, he stated that "a solution to Kashmir is a must for achieving peace in a nuclearised South Asia."18

The next important event was the meeting between Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh and Pakistani Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz at Sri Lanka in March 1999, on the sidelines of the SAARC summit. The two foreign ministers agreed on the urgency of taking concrete measures for implementation of the Lahore Declaration, the MOU and the Joint Statement issued during the Lahore summit. The ministers agreed to a six point programme which included setting up of a committee on humanitarian issues to deal with the release of civilian prisoners, relaxation of the visa regime, identifying areas of cooperation in information technology, Y2K and WTO related issues. A sign of progress between the two countries was exhibited when on March 22, 1999, India and Pakistan exchanged prisoners who had been held in their countries for years. India soon announced major steps to ease visa and travel restrictions for several categories of Pakistanis, in an effort to promote people to people contact, as part of the understanding reached at Lahore and Sri Lanka. Further, in the new environment, the Indian navy made a proposal for exchange of goodwill visits with Pakistan's navy, to the Defence Ministry.

The contradiction in Indo-Pak relations became apparent again when, Nawaz Sharif while visiting Rawalpindi stated that, " the Pakistan Army is fully geared and equipped to face any eventuality."19 His remarks came in the wake of Indian External Affairs Minister, Jaswant Singh's interview to the Pakistani newspaper, The News, in which he ruled out any third party mediation on the Kashmir issue and dismissed Pakistani demands to pull out the army from the Valley as a confidence building measure. On the positive side, a seventy five member business delegation visited FICCI in early April. Also, there was a two day biannual conference of the Pakistan Rangers and the BSF officers. They along with representatives of the narcotics and border survey departments of both sides, discussed cross border firing, the question of deportation of Indian and Pakistani nationals from each other's country, and agreed to exchange information on the activities of cross border narcotics smugglers.20 On the business front a fifty eight member Indian business delegation arrived in Karachi on March 7, 1999. The Federation of Indian Export Organisation, (FIEO) President, Navratan Samdria headed the delegation, which met with the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Also, the India Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IPCCI) was inaugurated on April 10, 1999. The test firing of Agni II on April 11, 1999, by India was communicated to Pakistan a day before, as per the Lahore Declaration. Even while negative statements were emanating from both sides, the basic thrust of these negotiations and agreements was to continue the dialogue and discussions at various levels.

While the Lahore process was the culmination of Nawaz Sharif's efforts towards taking Indo-Pak relations to a new high, it is known that the army in Pakistan was even then uncomfortable with this event, and had in the meanwhile been planning the Kargil adventure. It was reported in July 1999, that "Highly placed sources confirm that the decision to take over the Kargil posts was taken in October last year and preparations started immediately after that."21 In an article, General Mirza Aslam Beg, the former Chief of Army Staff disclosed that the mujahideen's operation was approved after briefings given to the Prime Minister at GHQ and ISI Headquarters as early as January 1999.22 Another Pakistani commentator, in an article published in July 1999, stated that, "It is generally accepted that Kargil was planned last year and its execution began in February just about the time of the Lahore Declaration."23 Afzal Mahmood, in his article asks the question, "Why did (Pakistan) fail to give the (Lahore) process a good try—which means reasonable time and opportunity to prove its worth as a conflict resolution mechanism? First we accept the concept of bilateralism, glorify the Lahore process and take pride in opening a new chapter in Indo-Pak relations and shortly thereafter embark upon a course of action—ill thought out and rash—that brings us to an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation with India."24

The feeling of euphoria created by the Lahore Summit was completely shattered due to Pakistan's aggression in Kargil which marked an unanticipated downturn in Indo-Pakistan relations.


It becomes meaningful to examine the implications of the Kargil war on Indo-Pak relations. Kargil has to be seen in the context of the proxy war conducted by Pakistan in the last decade. Kargil was in a sense the culmination of the proxy war. The purpose of the Pakistani operation in Kargil is clear. Pakistan wanted to enlarge the conflict in Kashmir, and to bring to the focus of the international community, the danger of another Indo-Pak war, one in which nuclear weapons could be used. By fabricating this kind of danger, Pakistan hoped for international intervention which would succeed in defreezing the Kashmir issue. Pakistan's manifold goals in its offensive in Kargil can be described in the following manner: Firstly, it hoped to cut off the Srinagar-Leh road so that movement of supplies to Leh garrison and Siachen would become impossible. Secondly, it wanted to block Zojila Pass and threaten Kashmir Valley from the north, which would be a new direction to make inroads. Thirdly, it wished to have control over the Himalayan range so that it would have unopposed access for insurgent-terrorists going into the Kashmir Valley and Doda district of Jammu. Fourthly, it wanted to outflank the Indian Army deployed on the LOC in north-western Kashmir and the Siachen glacier through Shyok Valley.25 Pakistan assumed that India would not retaliate because of the threat of nuclear weapons but India fought and recovered its territory.

The roots of the Kargil episode can be traced back to Pakistan's yearning to mastermind a people's revolt in Kashmir. The people of Kashmir, despite being under duress due to terrorist activities, went in for an elected government in 1996. Pakistan, realising the hopelessness of the situation, opted for military action in Kargil. Pakistan disregarded the peace initiative offered by India in Lahore. It deceived India by simultaneously planning the Kargil operations in great secrecy. The Kargil conflict was a great setback for the peace process and the confidence building measures initiated in the year preceding the Kargil intrusion. The Pakistani forces were found to be composed of Pakistani army units, mercenaries and Afghan war veterans. The Pakistani troops operating across the LOC were identified to be from the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th Battalions of the Northern Light Infantry. These battalions were augmented by Afghan war veterans and Islamic militants trained by the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Harkatul-ul-Mujahideen, etc.26 A Pakistani commentator admits that, " Carried out with the help of religious militants backed by the para-military Northern Light Infantry, the plan, it appears, was to take control of the vacant Indian positions on the Kargil heights, from where military supply routes to Ladakh and Siachen could be blocked."27 A survey of various articles written by a number of analysts in Pakistan leaves no room for doubt that Pakistan was directly involved in the Kargil war. M.P. Bhandara wrote, "We are told incessantly that the Kargil freedom fighters are genuine Kashmiri freedom fighters. However, is it reasonable to believe that freedom fighters can fight at 15,000 feet above sea level without Pakistani rations, clothing, logistics, ammunition and intelligence support?"28 Ikram Sehgal stated that, "…though belated we have begun to recognise the sacrifice and valour of the Northern Light Infantry (NLI)…No single unit of our army has inflicted such damage on men, morale and equipment of the Indians in their history as the NLI has done…"29 Pakistan's Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz visited New Delhi for talks on June 12, 1999 but the Indian External Affairs Minister made it clear that no negotiations could take place until Pakistan withdrew all infiltrators beyond the LOC. Jaswant Singh also confronted Sartaj Aziz with a taped conversation between two Pakistani generals which confirmed the Pakistan army's involvement in the Kargil fighting.

India's stand was of course vindicated, by the immense international support it received. During the Clinton-Sharif meeting of July 4, 1999, Nawaz Sharif agreed, "that concrete steps will be taken for the restoration of the Line of Control in accordance with the Simla Agreement".30 Nawaz Sharif by agreeing with President Clinton on this point, admitted not only that Kargil constituted a violation of the Line of Control, but that it was in Pakistan's power to undo this violation. The implicit suggestion was that he would withdraw his forces from Indian Kashmir, to the position as it existed before Pakistan's aggression in Kargil sector across the LOC. In a sense, the Pakistani government accepted the sanctity of the LOC, thereby putting a stamp of approval on it as forming a de facto boundary between India and Pakistan. According to reports, General Zinni, the chief of US central command, during his visit to Islamabad in the last week of June, 1999, received a firm commitment from the Pakistani leadership that they were ready to take concrete measures to de-escalate the situation. Faced with a serious economic situation, Pakistan could not afford to antagonise the US which could have withheld the 100 million dollar tranche of the IMF loan due in July. The G8 countries condemned the infiltration and demanded withdrawal of the intruders from the Indian side of the LOC. China stated that both India and Pakistan must exercise restraint and should solve the Kargil problem peacefully through negotiations. Pakistan, of course, continued to deny that its troops were operating across the LOC, even though a meeting was held between the Indian Director General of Military Operations and Pakistan's Director of Military Operations in the second week of July 1999, to chalk out the time frame for Pakistani forces to withdraw from Indian territory. The restraint shown by India in not crossing the LOC, even in the face of severe provocation was widely appreciated by the international community.

All the Pakistani government had to show for itself at the end was an ignominious retreat, without any quid pro quo on Kashmir and a total loss of credibility, not only amongst foreign countries, but within the country itself. The editor's note in the well-known Pakistani newsmagazine, Newsline, stated that, "The Washington agreement confirmed Indian and western allegations that the mujahideen action was backed by Pakistan. Far from internationalising the Kashmir issue, the government's mishandling of the Kargil crisis has diplomatically isolated the country."31 Another article stated, "That the Kargil adventure was ill-conceived, if not downright foolish, was becoming clear, albeit slowly, even to the congenitally blind. That consequently Pakistan, swallowing its pride and not a few of its brave and gallant words, would sooner or later have to mount a retreat was also becoming clear, especially after Niaz Naik's secret visit to New Delhi which was a desperate bid to get India to agree to some kind of a deal which would provide a face saving way out for us."32 Air Marshal (retd.) Asghar Khan, admitted that, "In 52 years of its existence, Pakistan has fought four wars with India without a clear objective."33

India felt terribly cheated by Pakistan because India had invested a lot of hope and faith in the Lahore process. That something as disastrous as an act of blatant aggression across the LOC in the Kargil sector could have been done by Pakistan so soon after the Lahore Declaration came as a fatal blow to India's hope about improving relations with Pakistan. Disappointment turned into disgust when widespread stories emanated from Pakistan suggesting that the army had specifically sought and obtained Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's clearance with regard to intrusions in Kargil soon after Nawaz had signed the Lahore Declaration.34

Hijacking Incident

The hijacking of the Indian Airlines plane became a way of subjecting the Indian population to terror tactics in continuation of the Kargil conflict. The Harkatul Mujahideen, the organisation which was responsible for the hijacking, and which was demanding the release of Masood Azhar, its leader, in exchange for Indian hostages, is one of the major militant organisations which is funded by Pakistan for anti-India activities. Taking into account the fact that the Pakistan government and the army have had major links with the Taliban in Afghanistan, and the fact that the Harkatul Mujahideen was involved, shows the backing of the Pakistani government without doubt, even though India did not make public accusations in this regard right in the beginning. The complicity of the Pakistan army and the Taliban was further proved when there was no help in the release of the hostages and India had to concede the demands of the hijackers. While the hijacking incident soured relations between India and Pakistan still further, Pakistan seemed to derive quiet satisfaction from the fact that India was forced to release the hardcore militants who had been under detention in India because of their acts of terrorism.

Pakistan in the initial phase of the hijacking, took the stance that it had extended all possible help in the safe landing of the hijacked airliner at Lahore airport and the Indian High Commissioner G.Parthasarthy was provided a special helicopter at his request for monitoring the ground situation. However, the Indian Airline IC 814 plane took off from Lahore by the time he reached there. Pakistan said that it had allowed the hijacked plane to land at Lahore airport purely on humanitarian grounds, as the captain had warned that the aircraft had almost run short of fuel. In a preliminary reaction to the hijacking incident, Foreign Office spokesman Tariq Altaf stated that under the international laws, Pakistan had no other option but to allow the plane to land.35 General Pervez Musharraf on December 28, emphasised that Pakistan had "absolutely no involvement" in the hijacking of the Indian airliner. In an interview with CNN, he said, "We do not really know the facts and the people as to who have hijacked (the plane)." He further stated that, Pakistan had cooperated with India totally "and we would like to co-operate with them totally."36 Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar, in a vain attempt to put Indian fears at rest, went a step further and stated that the hijackers of the Indian Airlines plane would face court proceedings under the international law if they came to Pakistan. He said that, "I can tell you with full responsibility that the hijackers have not entered Pakistan."37

All promises made by various officials of Pakistan became undone within the next few days itself. It was reported that the ISPR spokesman Director-General Brigadier Rashid Qureshi, in a statement on January 3, 2000 made it clear that the jailed Islamic terrorist, Maulana Masood Azhar freed by India, in a deal with the hijackers of the Indian Airlines plane could return home if his Pakistani identity was established. However, the same news report went on to admit that Azhar had studied at Karachi's Jamia Uloom Islamia Binori Town, Pakistan's second largest Islamic seminary. It went on to say that Azhar had links with the Harkatul Mujahideen, formerly known as Harkatul Ansar, one of the guerrilla groups fighting in Kashmir and that he was arrested in Kashmir in 1994.38 According to another report, Mushtaq Ahmad Zargar, founder chief of Al-Umar Mujahideen, one of the several groups fighting in Kashmir, arrived in the POK capital late on January 4, four days after he was released by the Indian government along with two other Kashmiri freedom fighters in exchange for 155 passengers of hijacked Indian Airlines plane on December 31. The report further stated that other mujahideen released were Maulana Masood Azhar and Ahmad Umar Saeed Sheikh, stated to be affiliated with the Harkatul Mujahideen.39

Pakistan's support for militant groups engaged in anti-India activities could no longer be hidden, as Maulana Masood Azhar, was allowed to address a Jumatul Wida congregation at Jama Masjid Al-Sadiq in Bahawalpur, where he declared jehad against India, and urged the men in the congregation to sign up to fight against Indian rule in Kashmir. "There is no way open for us other than to fight jehad against India for Kashmir's liberation," he said.40 Pakistan's real intentions became clear as the adviser to Pakistan's Chief Executive, Javed Jabbar said that Pakistan would not arrest Maulana Masood Azhar. In an interview with New York Times he said, " India had violated all norms of law and justice" by imprisoning Maulana Azhar for six years without finding him guilty of a crime in a court of law. "They have not been able to convict and sentence him. What are we supposed to do? He has not committed any crime on Pakistani territory."41 Realising the futility of relying on Pakistan to take remedial measures, India officially asked Pakistan on January 15,2000 to extradite the five hijackers of the Indian Airlines Airbus to stand trial for terrorism in India. Pakistan's High Commissioner in Delhi, Ashraf Jehangir Qazi was called to the Foreign Office and the demand was handed over to him by Indian Foreign Secretary Lalit Mansingh.42

The hijacking further vitiated the atmosphere between India and Pakistan. This event which showcases Pakistan's aggressive tendencies towards India, coincides with the belligerent posture adopted by Pakistan towards India under the rule of General Musharraf. It becomes important to focus on Pakistan's attitude in the last few months which is a critical factor in the future of Indo-Pakistan relations.

Coup and Aftermath

Nuclear Threats

The vitriolic statements emanating from across the border over the past few months do not bode well for Indo-Pakistan relations. It becomes obvious from such statements that Pakistan considers nuclear weapons as not merely means of deterrence but weapons of war which it would not hesitate to use. General Musharraf talked of the possibility of use of nuclear power if Pakistan's security is threatened. In an interview with CNN, the General, when asked under what conditions would Pakistan use nuclear weapons, said that, "If the security of Pakistan is threatened…that is my short answer." Asked about the guiding principle of Pakistan's policy on the use of nuclear weapons he said, "We have not worked that principle out, but we have worked surely that Pakistan's security will never be compromised."43


The policy of the Government under General Musharraf is to initiate a national debate on the CTBT issue in order to develop a national consensus before taking any decision. In an interview with CNN, General Musharraf said that the CTBT would not be signed by Pakistan unless "we develop consensus." He further stated that, "we will see what Pakistan needs and what is in the interest of Pakistan, and only then we will decide our response on the question of the CTBT."44 Those who favour the CTBT argue that it will not only re-endorse Islamabad's repeated stance of non-proliferation but also lead to the easing of some sanctions imposed on Pakistan after the nuclear tests. A joint meeting of the Federal Cabinet and the National Security Council , held on December 22, 1999, which was presided over by General Pervez Musharraf, deliberated on the CTBT issue in great detail. Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar noted that if India does not sign, Pakistan would retain the right to conduct tests. "If India conducts another nuclear explosion before the CTBT enters into force, nothing in or outside the treaty can foreclose Pakistan's right to do the same, whether it has signed the treaty or not." Mr Sattar briefed the meeting on the CTBT issue and on the outcome of the Foreign Policy Advisory Board meeting held in the Foreign Office on December 20, in which the same was deliberated upon by analysts and scholars. Mr Sattar also met a number of religious leaders who are vocal in their opposition to the CTBT. Besides taking note of the non-discriminatory nature of the treaty, it was highlighted in the meeting that the treaty only prohibits nuclear tests and it does not "affect possession or enhancement of nuclear capability or production of fissile material."45


Pakistan has been stressing the centrality of the Kashmir issue in its dealings with India. General Pervez Musharraf, while presiding over the 30th session of the Azad Kashmir Council in Islamabad, on December 18, stated that "The recent developments in South Asia have shown that Kashmir is a nuclear flashpoint in the region and the international community has also recognised it." The Chief Executive warned that lasting peace and stability in South Asia is not possible without the solution of the core issue of Kashmir. "Pakistan is willing to solve the Kashmir issue through peaceful means if India shows sincerity for the resolution of the issue," he said.46 General Musharraf, during his visit to Muzaffarabad on December 27, 1999 stated that "Pakistan is Kashmir and Kashmir is Pakistan." "I want to reiterate that there is a change in the policy towards India. Earlier we used to say that we will negotiate all issues, including Kashmir. But now we will discuss the Kashmir issue first," said the Chief Executive. General Musharraf said he had told the Foreign Office that Kashmir is the core issue and "there is no negotiations, no talks" with India unless the Kashmir issue is discussed."47 Chief Executive General Pervez Musharraf also sounded a warning that Pakistan will teach India a lesson if it tries to cross the Line of Control (LOC). "Indians are not refraining from crossing the LOC out of any love for Pakistan. They would have done it long before if they could. We will teach them a lesson on the LoC or anywhere else," he said in a wide ranging interview to Nation and Nawai Waqt on January 23, 2000.48

No Trade

The hardline stance taken by Pakistan is even reflected in the statement of Federal Commerce Minister Abdul Razzak in which he ruled out the possibility of trade with India in the existing regional and political situation, saying that a solution to the Kashmir issue tops the agenda of the present government. "Although both sides could have competitive advantage of trade between two major economies of the subcontinent yet I feel that any such move will be futile before solving the core issue of Kashmir," he said while speaking to newsmen at the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) office in Lahore.49

Prospects for Indo-Pakistan Relations

Prospects for peace between India and Pakistan are bleak in the forseeable future. In the short term there does not seem to be any hope for improvement in Indo-Pak relations. Any forward movement with Pakistan becomes difficult because of the ideological conflict between India and Pakistan. Pakistan's ideology is contradictory to that of India, and Pakistan's domestic opinion is steeped in that ideology. Also, the Kashmir issue never fails to be a rallying point for governments in power in Pakistan when they want to divert attention from their internal problems. The Indian government has taken a clear stand that there can be no talks till Pakistan stops instigating terrorism across the border into India. This does not seem likely to happen. On the contrary, Pakistan has intensified its jehad against India, and more specifically Kashmir. General Musharraf's statement that hostility would continue even after resolution of the Kashmir issue, seems to imply that the aim of the Pakistani establishment, is not just to get Kashmir, but the destabilisation of the Indian state.

The militant organisations funded by Pakistan like the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Harkat ul Mujahideen and Hizbul Mujahideen are highly motivated. In fact, the chief of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Mohammad Saeed while addressing a congregation near Muridke in November 1999, declared that the "mujahideen" would continue their jehad in Kashmir till they attained victory and they would never accept any formula for the division of the state.50 There is a belief in Pakistan that they have been successful in tying up the Indian army in Kashmir. Abdul Sattar who was a hardliner against India, is back in the power structure and the term "Indian hegemonism" is back in vogue. Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Aziz Mirza stated that, "We have the compulsion to safeguard our maritime interest against an enemy having hegemonic designs," while addressing officers of the Navy at Karachi on October 19, 1999.51 After Kargil, Pakistan slipped into internal convulsions and is yet to settle down from the consequences of the coup. As regards the question of plebiscite, self-determination on the basis of ethnicity is a dangerous doctrine to apply to Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan itself will be dismembered if this doctrine is applied across the board, considering the ethnic problems in Baluchistan, Sindh and the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan. Therefore, for Pakistan to be able to agree to a resolution of the Kashmir question will not be easy.

Prime Minister Vajpayee in the beginning said that there was no possibility of talks with the present regime in Pakistan though he was hopeful that the spirit of the Lahore summit between him and then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif would be revived someday. He stated that the main obstacle to the resumption of talks is the breach of trust between the two countries following the Kargil conflict. Prime Minister Vajpayee has also made it clear that India is not interested in talking with Pakistan till it stops cross border terrorism into India. More recently, the Indian Prime Minister has taken a harder stand and said that unless POK is returned to India we will not talk to Pakistan. Such statements make it obvious that prospects for an early resumption of talks with Pakistan are not very bright.

Even contact on the economic front is going to be difficult in the near future, looking at the positions adopted by both countries. While Pakistan has ruled out the possibility of trade with India, SAARC meetings scheduled to be held in November 1999, at the political level were cancelled because India objected to dealing with the military government in Pakistan. India also rejected a proposal for Pakistani and Indian commerce ministers to meet before the WTO ministerial conference in Seattle in November 1999 end, because it did not want to provide legitimacy to the military government in Pakistan.

While it is going to be a challenge to keep channels of communication open with Pakistan, we cannot dismiss the fact that Musharraf is in power in Pakistan. Though the Commonwealth has suspended Pakistan, it continues to have a seat in the UN and other international fora, most of which seem to treat the new management in Pakistan as just one more change in government. He will continue to have a working relationship with powers which are important to Pakistan- i.e., the US, China, Islamic countries, Western Europe and Japan. Also, the people of Pakistan themselves have welcomed the Musharraf government. There is general support for Musharraf's military regime, excluding a certain section of Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League.

It is likely that General Musharraf will remain in power for the forseeable future, as no definite time frame has been given for restoration of democracy in Pakistan. General Musharraf is likely to continue to have a confrontational attitude towards India, and will probably encourage subversion against India. In his speech after assuming office as Chief Executive, General Pervez Musharraf, on October 17, 1999 stated emphatically that, "We shall continue our unflinching moral, political and diplomatic support to our Kashmiri brethren in their struggle to achieve their right of self-determination."52 He feels that Indo-Pakistan dialogue would be useful only if India discusses the Kashmir issue with Pakistan in a meaningful manner. He has also clarified that his pulling back troops from the Indo-Pakistan frontier will not extend to the LOC in Jammu and Kashmir.

We need to keep in mind that Musharraf has an antagonistic mindset when he deals with India. When dealing with him we need to keep in mind certain features about his background and tread carefully, based on how these factors would influence his thinking and course of action. Mercenaries recruited from different Muslim countries for fighting Soviet troops in Afghanistan were trained under the charge of General Musharraf in the concerned Directorate of the ISI. In 1987, he became the brigade commander of the Special Services Group which was given the job of pushing back Indian forces from Siachen. He was also in charge of all military and subversive operations against Jammu and Kashmir due to his role as force commander Northern Areas. General Musharraf also played a major role in the fourth major military conflict between India and Pakistan over Kargil.53

In the long term, India and Pakistan will have to restart the process of communication with a series of confidence building measures. A broad definition of the concept of CBMs suggests that India and Pakistan have engaged in confidence building exercises since their independence in 1947 although the term came into use in more recent times. One of the most enduring pillars of Indo-Pak CBMs has been the Indus Waters Treaty of September 19, 1960. Adherence to the provisions of this treaty has survived inspite of the ups and downs in the relations between the two countries. There has been support for Track II diplomacy between the two countries in an effort to explore the broad range of dialogue and networking processes available. Track II dialogues "provide a second line of communication between conflicting states and seek to bridge the gap between official government positions by serving as testing grounds for new policy initiatives."54 Select academics, journalists, businessmen, and retired military officials and civilian officials from India and Pakistan have been holding meetings under what is referred to as the Neemrana process. The Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi has initiated a regional dialogue between the intellectuals of the two states. People-to-people dialogues are promoted by organisations like the India-Pakistan People's Forum. Such dialogues assume even more importance in the present situation where both the governments may have difficulty acting directly and where the foundations need to be prepared for state-to-state diplomacy at a later point.55

Both India and Pakistan view each other as adversaries and such images are transmitted not only through the medium of education but also through the print and electronic media. Media needs to focus less on political and social tensions and conflicts in each country and more on positive developments and changes across the border. India and Pakistan share common problems in the energy sector. Both countries suffer from severe shortages of oil and electric power for use in industrial, agricultural and household sectors. Substantial opportunities are there for India and Pakistan to collaborate in jointly exploring, developing, and sharing their energy resources.

In the area of trade and economic relations, India and Pakistan in the post independence period had dismal relations. The two countries have not been able to exploit the existing potential for trade in a wide range of products which could be purchased at a lower cost and with a shorter delivery time. This point has been reiterated in a recent report on India-Pakistan trade, wherein it was stated that though Pakistan fears dumping of various items by India into Pakistan if the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status is granted to India, the consumers in Pakistan would be the beneficiaries due to the availability of low priced products. The report also stated that "consumers will benefit from Pakistan-India liberalisation on goods imported from India which are categorised as; goods that are being manufactured in India and whose ex-factory cost is similar to that of any other third country's exports; here the Pakistani consumer will benefit due to low transportation cost."56

While these are all examples of meaningful relations in the Indo-Pak context and what would be the ideal level of interaction between the two countries, only time will tell how much of this is achievable. Any forward movement will depend on maintaining a continuity in dialogue which is important for long term success in normalising relations between India and Pakistan.



1. For background information and context see J.N. Dixit, Anatomy of a Flawed Inheritance, (Delhi: Konark Publishers, 1995), pp. 325-327.

2. According to the IDSA database.

3. Zaigham Khan, "Allah's Armies," The Herald, September 1998, p. 28-29.

4. The News International, May 31, Pakistan

5. Stephan P. Cohen, The Pakistan Army, (New Delhi: Himalayan Books, 1984), p153.

6. Fasahat H. Syed ed., Nuclear Disarmament and Conventional Arms Control Including Light Weapons, (Islamabad: FRIENDS, 1997), p.449.

7. Indian Express, September 24, 1998.

8. The Pioneer, October 21,1998 and The Hindu, October 17, 1998

9. The Hindu, November 15, 1998.

10. The Hindu, November 7, 1998.

11. The Hindu, November 10, 1998.

12. The Hindu, November 11, 1998.

13. The Hindu, November 13, 1998.

14. The Hindu, November 11 and November 13, 1998.

15. According to the Lahore Declaration, both the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan were "committed to the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations, and the universally accepted principles of peaceful co-existence;" and they reiterated "the determination of both countries to implementing the Simla Agreement in letter and spirit;" According to the MOU signed by the foreign secretaries of both the countries, they reaffirmed "the continued commitment of their respective governments to the principles and purposes of the U.N. Charter;" and reiterated "the determination of both countries to implementing the Simla Agreement in letter and spirit;"

16. The clauses pertaining to the issue of Jammu and Kashmir and that pertaining to bilateralism in the Lahore Declaration and the MOU are as follows. According to the Lahore Declaration, both the Prime Ministers, "Recalling their agreement of 23rd September, 1998, that an environment of peace and security is in the supreme national interest of both sides and that the resolution of all outstanding issues, including Jammu and Kashmir, is essential for this purpose; have agreed that their respective Governments: shall intensify their efforts to resolve all issues, including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir; … shall intensify their composite and integrated dialogue process for an early and positive outcome of the agreed bilateral agenda." The MOU stated that the foreign secretaries were "Guided by the agreement between their Prime Ministers of 23rd September 1998 that an environment of peace and security is in the supreme national interest of both sides and that resolution of all outstanding issues, including Jammu and Kashmir, is essential for this purpose; Pursuant to the directive given by their respective Prime Ministers in Lahore, to adopt measures for promoting a stable environment of peace, and security between the two countries; Have on this day, agreed to the following:- 1. The two sides shall engage in bilateral consultations on security concepts, and nuclear doctrines, with a view to developing measures for confidence building in the nuclear and conventional fields, aimed at avoidance of conflict…."

17. Hindustan Times, March 9, 1999.

18. Times of India, March 2, 1999.

19. Times of India, April 3, 1999.

20. Times of India, April 9, 1999.

21. "Beating a Hasty Retreat", Newsline, July 1999.

22. Stated in an article by Afzal Mahmood, Dawn, July 18, 1999.

23. M.P.Bhandara, Dawn, July 21, 1999.

24. Mahmood, See n. 22.

25. Maj.Gen. (Retd.) Afsir Karim, "Pakistan's Aggression in Kashmir: 1999", Aakrosh, July 1999, p.5.

26. Ibid, p. 10.

27. Zafar Abbas, "Whodunnit?", The Herald, August 1999.

28. M.P. Bhandara, Dawn, July 21, 1999

29. Ikram Sehgal, Nation, July 31, 1999.

30. Text of the Joint Statement of President Clinton and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, at Washington on July 4, 1999, Dawn July 5, 1999.

31. Newsline, July 1999

32. Ayaz Amir, Dawn, July 9, 1999.

33. Nation, July 29, 1999.

34. For an authoritative account see Altaf Gauhar's article in Nation, September 5, 1999.

35. POT Pakistan, January 6, 2000, pp. 78-79.

36. Nation, December 29, 1999.

37. Nation, January 3, 2000.

38. Dawn, January 4, 2000.

39. Dawn, January 5, 2000.

40. News, January 8, 2000.

41. Dawn, January 9, 2000.

42. Nation, January 16, 2000.

43. News, January 5, 2000.

44. News, January 5, 2000.

45. Nation, December 23, 1999.

46. News, December 19, 1999.

47. News, December 28, 1999.

48. Nation, January 23, 2000.

49. Nation, January 3, 2000

50. Dawn, November 6, 1999

51. Nation, October 20, 1999.

52. Dawn, October 18, 1999

53. J.N. Dixit, "Knowing the General", Seminar, no.485, January 2000, pp. 64-65

54. Navnita C. Behera, Paul M. Evans, G.Rizvi, ed., Beyond Boundaries: A Report on the State of Non-Official Dialogues on Peace, Security and Co-operation in South Asia, (University of Toronto-York University and Joint Centre for Asia Pacific Studies, Canada, 1997), p. 21.

55. "Back- room" channels have been kept open in the recent past also. It is believed that former Indian Foreign Secretary Salman Haider visited Islamabad in November 1999, to feel the pulse of the military rulers and former Pakistan High Commissioner in India, Humayun Khan was sent to India by the Pakistan government. Also, three senior editors of leading Indian papers Bharat Bhushan, Raja Mohan and Shekhar Gupta also visited Pakistan in November. During the Kargil crisis also, "back-channel" diplomacy was used when former Pakistan Foreign Secretary Niaz A. Naik visited New Delhi and before that R.K. Mishra, the Editor-in-Chief of Business and Political Observer was sent by India as a special envoy to Islamabad. He was accompanied by Vivek Katju, in charge of Pakistan Desk at the MEA. See POT Pakistan, December 17, 1999, No. 324.

56. This news piece which appeared in the Nation, January 8, 2000 is talking about the report titled, "Pakistan-India Trade: Transition to the GATT Regime", POT Pakistan, January 21, 2000.