Pakistan Table of Contents

A major focus in Pakistan's foreign policy is the continuing quest for security against India, its large, more powerful, and generally hostile neighbor. Pakistan was created despite the opposition of the most powerful political party in prepartition India, the Hindu-dominated Indian National Congress, and the suspicion remains among Pakistanis that India has never reconciled itself to the existence of an independent Pakistan. Several events further soured the relationship. One of these was the massive transfer of population between the two countries at partition, with its attendant bloodshed as Muslims left India and Hindus and Sikhs left Pakistan. There was also bitterness over the distribution of financial assets left by the British, with India initially blocking payments to Pakistan from the joint sterling account. An even more complex issue was the sovereignty of Kashmir, a concern arising from the accession of the princely states to India or Pakistan at partition. Although almost all of these states made the choice quickly, based on geographic location and the religious majority of their population, several delayed. One of these was Hyderabad, with a predominantly Hindu population and a Muslim ruler who did not want to accede to India. Hyderabad was a landlocked state in the south of India, and Indian military intervention was used to incorporate it into India.

The princely state of Jammu and Kashmir (usually referred to as Kashmir), however, had a Hindu ruler and boundaries with both Pakistan and India. Although Muslims constituted a majority of the state's population, the Hindu-Sikh community made up the majority in the province of Jammu, and Buddhists predominated around Ladakh. After a popular uprising against the Hindu ruler in late 1947, supported by Pakistani tribesmen and some military units, the ruler panicked and acceded to India. The subsequent Indo-Pakistani War of 1947-48 over control of Kashmir concluded with a cease-fire brokered by the United Nations (UN), which took effect on January 1, 1949. Kashmir was divided by a UN line between the areas held by the two countries, and a 1949 UN Security Council resolution provided for a plebiscite to be held under UN auspices to decide the issue of accession. India has refused to hold the plebiscite, and the dispute has continued. In 1965 war broke out again between the two countries over Kashmir, ending in another cease-fire in September. The Tashkent Declaration, signed on January 10, 1966, under the auspices of the Soviet Union, provided for restoration of the India-Pakistan international boundary and the Kashmir cease-fire line but did not result in a permanent solution to the problem.

Relations between the two countries reached a new low in 1971, when India intervened militarily in support of secessionist forces in East Pakistan, thus playing an instrumental role in the creation of independent Bangladesh. Although the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 was fought over East Pakistan, heavy fighting also occurred along the Kashmir cease-fire line. Consequently, under the Simla Agreement of 1972 following the end of that war, the cease-fire line in Kashmir was redefined (it is now usually referred to as the Line of Control), and India and Pakistan agreed not to use force in Kashmir. The agreement also improved relations sufficiently for India to release some 90,000 prisoners of war taken when Pakistan's army had surrendered in East Pakistan.

The circumstances surrounding the conflict over Kashmir changed considerably over the years, as have the levels of UN involvement in the dispute. The military balance between India and Pakistan after the latter's defeat in the 1971 war heavily favored India. Another changed circumstance is that beginning in 1989, India has had to face a virtual "Kashmiri intifada" in its repressive efforts to keep a sullen and predominantly Muslim Kashmiri populace under control. This insurrection, India claimed, was supported by the "hidden hand" of Pakistan. Furthermore, the situation became even more complex with a growing movement among certain factions of Kashmiri militants for an independent Kashmiri state, precluding accession to either India or Pakistan. The volatile and potentially explosive situation in Kashmir continued to be monitored in 1994 by a team of UN observers, who operated under significant constraints. The Kashmir dispute continues to be the major deterrent to improved relations between the two countries.

Pakistan's suspicions of Indian intentions were further aroused by India's entry into the nuclear arena. India's explosion of a nuclear device in 1974 persuaded Pakistan to initiate its own nuclear program. The issue has subsequently influenced the direction of Pakistan's relations with the United States and China. United States-Pakistan relations over the nuclear issue are particularly prickly. Pakistan's relations with China on this issue, however, have been influenced by both countries' suspicions of India. In 1991 China called on India to accept Pakistan's proposal of a nuclear-free weapons zone in South Asia. In the same year, Pakistan and China signed a nuclear cooperation treaty reportedly intended for peaceful purposes. This agreement included provision by China of a nuclear power plant to Pakistan.

An added source of tension in Indo-Pakistani relations concerned the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979. India refused to condemn the Soviet action, while Pakistan provided sanctuary for Afghan refugees and was a conduit for supplying arms from the United States and others to the Afghan mujahidin. During the Soviet Union's military intervention in Afghanistan, therefore, Pakistan felt an increased threat on both its eastern and northwestern borders. The rise of militant Hinduism in India, and the accompanying violence against Muslims there, was a further source of uneasiness between the two countries.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress