India and Pakistan, two nations born out of British colonial rule, have had strained relations since their independence. Here's a concise timeline of key events.

Evolution of India-Pakistan Relations:

  1. Indo-Pakistan War of 1947-48:
  • The primary war between India and Pakistan was the 1947-48 conflict, triggered by the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.
  • Pakistan invaded, leading to Maharaja Hari Singh's request for Indian assistance.
  • The war resulted in Pakistan gaining control of one-third of Kashmir, while India held the rest.
  1. Indo-Pakistan War of 1965:
  • The 1965 war was influenced by India's vulnerabilities, including its defeat in the 1962 Sino-Indian war and the perceived weakness of its military.
  • Pakistan initiated the conflict to address the Kashmir issue and weaken Indian resolve.
  • The war involved attempts to infiltrate forces into Kashmir by Pakistan and India's military response.
  • It ended after diplomatic intervention by the USSR and the US.
  1. Indo-Pakistan War of 1971:
  • In 1971, Pakistan was divided into East and West Pakistan (now Bangladesh).
  • Pakistan's military operation and political turmoil in East Pakistan led to a humanitarian crisis.
  • India supported Bengali rebels, resulting in the creation of Bangladesh.
  • The war ended with the surrender of 93,000 Pakistani forces and the Shimla Agreement in 1972.
  1. Kargil Conflict of 1999:
  • The Kargil conflict began when Pakistan attempted to occupy high-altitude Indian posts in the Kargil Sector.
  • It followed the Lahore Declaration of 1999.
  • Indian forces, with air support, recaptured several posts.
  • Pakistan withdrew from the remaining area due to international pressure and high casualties.
  • Kargil Diwas is celebrated annually to commemorate the victory.
  1. Agra Summit 2001:
  • The Agra Summit in 2001 aimed to address long-standing issues between India and Pakistan.
  • Proposals included reducing nuclear arsenals, resolving the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, and addressing cross-border terrorism.
  • The negotiations ultimately broke down, and no treaty was signed.

These historical events have shaped the complex and often contentious relationship between India and Pakistan, marked by conflicts, territorial disputes, and diplomatic efforts to find resolutions. 

Further Deliberations 

  1. Composite Dialogue (2004-2008): From 2004 to 2008, the composite dialogue aimed to address various outstanding issues between the two countries. It was temporarily paused due to the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack.
  1. Prime Minister Meetings (2010): In April 2010, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani expressed their willingness to resolve issues on the sidelines of the SAARC Summit.
  1. Resumption of Bilateral Ties (2011): Bilateral ties resumed in 2011 with a meeting of the Foreign Ministers. The discussions covered a range of issues, including Jammu & Kashmir, economic matters, Confidence-Building Measures (CBMs), friendly exchanges, Siachen, counterterrorism, and humanitarian concerns.
  1. Cross LoC Travel and Trade (2004-2009): Cross Line of Control (LoC) travel began in 2004, and trade across Jammu and Kashmir commenced in 2009.
  1. Visa Agreement (2012): In 2012, India and Pakistan signed a Visa Agreement, leading to the liberalization of bilateral visa procedures.

These events represent the ups and downs in India-Pakistan relations, marked by efforts to engage diplomatically while grappling with long-standing disputes and security concerns. 

Areas of Contention in India-Pakistan Relations:

  1. Territorial Disputes:
  • Kashmir: The Kashmir region has been a major point of conflict, leading to three wars (1947, 1965, 1999) and continued ceasefire violations.
  • Siachen Glacier: The Siachen Glacier, the world's second-largest, is disputed. India gained a strategic advantage in the region in 1984, and both nations maintain armed forces there.
  • Sir Creek Dispute: The Sir Creek estuary, lying between Sindh (Pakistan) and Gujarat (India), has a disputed maritime boundary. Both countries claim ownership due to its valuable Exclusive Economic Zone resources.

These territorial disputes have been enduring sources of tension and conflict in India-Pakistan relations, characterized by mutual distrust and suspicion.

  1. Water Disputes in India-Pakistan Relations:

        Indus River Dispute:

  • India and Pakistan have a long-standing dispute concerning the sharing of waters from the Indus River system.
  • Prior to the 1960 Indus Water Treaty, there was an informal arrangement for sharing waters from east and west-flowing rivers.
  • The Indus Water Treaty, brokered by the World Bank, allocated the Sutlej, Beas, and Ravi rivers to India and the Jhelum, Chenab, and Sindh rivers to Pakistan.

       Challenges with the Treaty:

  • Despite three wars since independence, the Indus Water Treaty has not fully resolved the water dispute.
  • The treaty is highly technical, leading to differing interpretations and disputes.
  • It lacks a definitive solution for water-sharing during times of river water shortages.

       Recent Developments: After the Pulwama terror attacks, India announced its intention to stop the flow of water into Pakistan.

  1. Ceasefire Violations and Terrorism in India-Pakistan Relations:

        Cross-Border Terrorism:

  • Since gaining independence, cross-border terrorism has remained a contentious issue between India and Pakistan.
  • Despite a 2003 Ceasefire Agreement, Pakistan has consistently violated the ceasefire, resulting in casualties on both sides.

       Terror Attacks Sponsored by Pakistan:

  • Pakistan-sponsored terror attacks on India have been a significant source of tension.
  • Notable incidents include the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, Pathankot airbase attacks, Uri attacks, and the Pulwama attack.

        Indian Retaliation:

  • The Indian government, under Prime Minister Modi, responded forcefully with surgical strikes in 2016 and the Balakot airstrikes in 2019.
  • These actions conveyed a strong message to Pakistan that terrorism would not be tolerated.

        Persistent Terrorism:

  • Despite these actions, the complete eradication of terrorism remains a challenge, as seen in recent terrorist encounters in Kashmir.

        Anti-India Propaganda:

  • Pakistan has also engaged in anti-India propaganda efforts, including using social media to question India's secular credentials, particularly during the Covid-19 crisis.
  1. Kulbhushan Jadhav Case:
  • Pakistan has accused Kulbhushan Jadhav of espionage and spying, sentencing him to death through a military court.
  • India disputes these allegations, asserting that Jadhav, a retired Naval Officer, was falsely framed by Pakistan while he was on a business trip to Iran.
  • India repeatedly requested consular access to Jadhav, which Pakistan consistently denied, offering various reasons for the refusal.
  • India took the matter to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), arguing that Pakistan violated the Vienna Convention by denying consular access.
  • In response to India's appeal, the ICJ ruled that Pakistan should review the death sentence and grant consular access to India.
  1. Trade Conflict and Recent Events in India-Pakistan Relations:
  • Until 1965, India was Pakistan's largest trading partner, but deteriorating relations led to a sharp decline in bilateral trade.
  • Tensions in 2019 further reduced trade, with India revoking Pakistan's Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status and imposing high customs duties on Pakistani imports after the Pulwama attack.
  • In April, India suspended the cross-Line of Control (LoC) trade to prevent misuse for infiltration and terror financing, and Pakistan closed its airspace to India.
  1. Latest Events:
  • The Pulwama attack in February 2019, India's Balakot response, and Pakistan's counter-response heightened tensions.
  • After India's abrogation of Jammu & Kashmir's special status on August 5, 2019, both countries downgraded their diplomatic presence, withdrawing their high commissioners.
  • Bilateral trade, despite its small volume, came to a complete halt following the abrogation of Article 370. 

Areas of Cooperation Between India and Pakistan:

SAARC: Despite their rivalry, India and Pakistan are essential members of SAARC. Improved relations could transform SAARC into a successful organisation, fostering the overall development of South Asia, one of the world's most underdeveloped regions.

Climate Change and Disasters: South Asia is highly vulnerable to climate change and related disasters. India and Pakistan, along with other South Asian countries, can collaborate in addressing these challenges.

Kartarpur Corridor: The Kartarpur Corridor exemplifies people-to-people cooperation between India and Pakistan. Similar initiatives at religious or culturally significant sites could enhance bilateral relations.

Fight Against COVID-19: India's cooperation with SAARC nations, including Pakistan, during the COVID-19 pandemic and its proposal for a trilateral response on issues like desert locust attacks, demonstrate potential for greater cooperation, provided other bilateral problems are managed or resolved.

Recent developments:

  1. In February 2020, India reaffirmed its commitment to its Neighbourhood First Policy and expressed a desire for a peaceful and terrorism-free relationship with Pakistan.
  2. Article 370 of the Indian constitution, which granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir, was revoked in 2019. This move had a significant negative impact on India-Pakistan relations, leading to Pakistan suspending various connections, including land and air links, trade, and railway services with India.
  3. On February 15, 2019, India decided to withdraw the Most Favoured Nation status previously granted to Pakistan.

Potential Benefits of India-Pakistan Relations:

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC): Enhanced relations and a resolution of the Kashmir issue could bring benefits to the South Asian region, especially if the CPEC, passing through Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), becomes a catalyst for economic growth.

TAPI Pipeline: Improved relations can secure the energy needs of both Pakistan and India through the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline, which originates in Turkmenistan, passes through Afghanistan and Pakistan, and ends in India.

Stability in Afghanistan: Better relations can contribute to meaningful stability in Afghanistan, enhancing overall regional security.

SAARC's Relevance: A reduction in tensions between India and Pakistan could potentially revive the relevance of SAARC, which has faced challenges due to its contentious relationship.

Reduced Military Expenditure: Improved relations can lead to reduced military spending, allowing both nations to redirect resources toward developmental activities.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Given their significant populations living in poverty and facing malnutrition and illiteracy, cooperation between India and Pakistan could help advance progress toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.

Way Ahead 

Ending Cross-Border Terrorism: Meaningful engagement between India and Pakistan hinges on ending cross-border terrorism, following India's "Talks and terrorism can't go hand in hand" policy.

  • International Engagement: Both countries can engage at international forums like the SCO and SAARC while maintaining Track 2 diplomacy to keep the door open for dialogue.
  • Exploring Initiatives: Initiatives like the Kartarpur Corridor can improve relations, prompting both nations to explore additional avenues for cooperation.
  • Focus on Economic Development: India should prioritize rapid economic development and modernization of its armed forces to strengthen its military and economic superiority over Pakistan.
  • Managing China Relations: The growing China-Pakistan nexus could challenge India's strategic position, necessitating careful management of relations with China, particularly in the post-COVID world.
  • International Pressure: To address terrorism emanating from Pakistan, India should continue mounting international pressure on Pakistan through global and regional organisations.
  • Diplomatic Isolation: India should maintain diplomatic isolation of Pakistan on the international stage, as seen after events like the Pulwama attack, Balakot airstrikes, and the abrogation of Article 370.
  • Border Security: Enhancing border security infrastructure along the Western border under CIBMS is crucial for safeguarding India's interests.
  • Counter-Propaganda: Vigilance by Indian intelligence on various platforms is essential to counter Pakistani propaganda and maintain domestic unity and stability.


The complex and often strained relationship between India and Pakistan has been marked by historical conflicts, territorial disputes, and ongoing challenges. However, there exist potential avenues for cooperation and resolution of longstanding issues. Achieving lasting peace and stability in the region demands concerted efforts, including ending cross-border terrorism, exploring diplomatic initiatives, strengthening economic development, and managing international relations effectively. While the road ahead may be challenging, continued engagement and dialogue offer hope for a more peaceful and prosperous South Asia.

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