India-Pakistan Peace Process

AUG 3

Mains   > International relations   >   India and Neighbours   >   India- Pakistan

WHY IN NEWS:

  • In February 2021, Pakistan and India reaffirmed their commitment to the 2003 ceasefire agreement along the LoC, agreeing to resolve the key problems that threaten peace and stability.

CAUSES OF CONFLICT BETWEEN INDIA AND PAKISTAN

  • Historical reasons:
    • The problem between India and Pakistan started since 1947 when Pakistan was separated from India before getting independence from the British rule.
    • Pakistan was created on the demand of Muslim organizations for a separate country for the Muslims because they feared that Muslims will be minorities in India and their demands and necessities will not be look after in the near future by the Indian government.
  • Kashmir issue:
    • The main issue of conflict between India and Pakistan is the Kashmir issue.
    • When India and Pakistan were divided, Kashmir was in hands of a Hindu ruler and Kashmir wanted to stay independent, so it neither went to Pakistan nor to India.
    • But after partition Pak army and militants attacked Kashmir for annexation.
    • So Raja Hari singh, the then ruler of Kashmir took help of India on an agreement with Indian Government
    • Pakistan's leaders refused to recognize the legitimacy of India's Instrument of Accession to Kashmir, and an unofficial war erupted in October 1947
    • Since Independence India and Pakistan has been engaged in 5 direct or indirect wars, but still the issue is not resolved.
  • Scrapping of Article 370:
    • In 2019, India revoked the special status granted under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution to Jammu and Kashmir; to integrate Kashmir and put it on the same footing as the rest of India
    • In response Pakistan brought plans to integrate Gilgit Baltistan and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir as fifth and sixth provinces of Pakistan.
  • Border dispute:
    • There has been persistent tension between both the countries over the International Border in Jammu and Kashmir.
    • 700 miles of the border are disputed and have historically been claimed by both countries.
    • The UN was successful in stabilizing the situation for some time during the 1960s; however, the war in 1971 reignited the tension.
    • After the war, India and Pakistan renamed the ceasefire line the Line of Control (LoC).
    • In 2003, ceasefire agreement is signed between two countries. It is a watershed moment because it brought peace to the LoC until 2006
  • Ceasefire violations:
    • Since 2006, there have been more than 14,000 violations of the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) between the two countries in 2003.
  • Cross-border terrorism:
    • Terrorism emanating from territories under Pakistan's control remains a core concern in bilateral relations
    • In many of the terror attacks against India, there are allegations of involvement of Pakistan army.
    • This include the cross-border terror attack on Pathankot Airbase in 2016; attack on Army Camp in Uri and terror attack on the convoy of Indian security forces in Pulwama by Pakistan based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) in 2019.
  • Failure of Pakistan in trialing terror groups:
    • For ex: India has repeatedly called upon Pakistan to bring perpetrators of Mumbai terror attacks to justice expeditiously.
    • However, there has been no progress in the ongoing trial of Mumbai terror attacks case in Pakistan even after all the evidence has been shared with Pakistan side.
  • Unilateral actions by Pakistan:
    • Pakistan has continued to restrict normal trade, people to people exchanges and connectivity with India.
    • In 2019, Pakistan announced unilateral measures, including downgrading of diplomatic relations, suspension of bilateral trade and review of bilateral arrangements with India.
    • Subsequently, Pakistan suspended all bus and train services between India and Pakistan
  • Lack of trade cooperation:
    • India-Pakistan bilateral trade remains very low at USD 2.5 billion in 2018-19
    • India had accorded MFN status to Pakistan in 1996. A Pakistan cabinet decision of November 02, 2011 to reciprocate remains unimplemented.
    • In the aftermath of cross border terror attack in Pulwama, India withdrew Most Favoured Nation Status to Pakistan. India also hiked customs duty on exports from Pakistan to 200%
    • Subsequently, as part of its unilateral measures, Pakistan suspended bilateral trade with India in August 2019
  • Fishermen dispute:
    • Fishermen from the Saurashtra region of Gujarat often get arrested when they unintentionally cross over into Pakistani waters.
    • The problem is aggravated by the dispute over the Sir Creek in Kutch and the failure to officially determine the maritime boundary between the two nations
    • 270 Indian fishermen are currently in Pakistani custody, while around 97 Pakistani fishermen are in Indian jails.
  • Pakistan’s growing closeness with China:
    • China and Pakistan have pledged to back each other’s “core and major interests” in the United Nations
    • China in 2019 and 2020 raised the Kashmir issue at the UNSC on at least three occasions, calling for discussions in the wake of India’s dilution of Article 370

NEED FOR PEACE EFFORTS:

  • For India
    • Consistent with India’s Neighbourhood First Policy
      • In keeping with its “Neighbourhood First Policy”, India desires normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan.
      • India’s consistent position is that issues, if any, between India and Pakistan should be resolved bilaterally and peacefully, in an atmosphere free of terror and violence.
    • To avoid threat of two front war:
      • Stand-off with China at LAC has made the possibility of a two-front war more real >> fuels the push to reduce tensions with Pakistan.
  • For Pakistan:
    • Economic crisis:
      • Pakistan is on its thirteenth loan from the IMF and the economy is now battling a crippling inflation.
      • Adding to its economic woes is Pakistan’s surging wheat imports.
      • After years of being self-sufficient, Pakistan is now being forced to import wheat to feed its people.
    • Check excessive defence expenditure:
      • Maintaining peace with India helps Pakistan to reduce its military spending and save the resource for and developmental and welfare spending.
  • For the region:
    • Ensuring peace and prosperity in South Asia
      • India-Pakistan animosity hurts regionalism and South Asian growth.
      • Rivalry between two countries >> led to  lack of focus on resolving issues that blight the entire subcontinent such as poverty, malnutrition and an unconscionable neglect of the young.
    • Stabilizing Afghanistan:
      • Withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan could pave the nation fall into chaos
      • Cooperation between India and Pakistan is crucial in determining Kabul’s future
    • Threat of nuclear war:
      • As both countries are nuclear powers >> there is a chance that the escalation of conflict may be met with the use of nuclear weapons.

RECENT PEACE INITIATIVES:

  • Border agreements
    • To settle the border conflict, India and Pakistan have signed multiple agreements such as Karachi Agreements, 1949, Shimla Agreement, 1972 and Ceasefire Agreement, 2003
    • In February 2021, Pakistan and India reaffirmed their commitment to the 2003 ceasefire agreement along the LoC
    • The two DGMOs agreed to discuss each other’s core issues or concerns - that have the potential to disrupt peace and contribute to conflict - in the interest of achieving mutually beneficial and lasting peace, according to the declaration
  • Invitation to swearing in ceremony of government:
    • Invitation to the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for the swearing-in ceremony in May 2014
  • Meeting of Permanent Indus Commission (PIC)
    • The 115th meeting of Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) was held in 2018.
    • In meeting both sides discussed Pakal Dul Hydroelectric Power Project (HEP), Lower Kalnai HEP and reciprocal tours of Inspection to both sides of the Indus basin
  • Joint Judicial Committee:
    • In 2017, the mechanism of the Joint Judicial Committee was revived, which looks into humanitarian issues of fishermen and prisoners in each other’s custody
  • Kartarpur Sahib Corridor Agreement
    • It provides for visa-free travel of Indian pilgrims as well as Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders, from India to the holy Gurudwara in Pakistan on a daily basis, throughout the year.
  • Relaxation to airspace denial:
    • India allowed aircraft of Pakistan Prime Minister to use Indian air space during his Sri Lanka visit in 2021
  • Lifted the ban on the import of medicines
    • Within a month of suspending bilateral trade with India in 2019, the Pakistan government lifted the ban on the import of medicines and raw material from India

WAY AHEAD:

  • Need for a broader vision:
    • India needs to view a peace with Pakistan not as a bilateral matter, but to dramatically transform South Asia for the better
  • Improving trade relation:
    • Initiating a positive list for trade is the right move towards normalisation.
    • Business organisations and chambers of commerce can play an important role in creating a strong lobby that could build momentum in opening channels and influence the shaping of the India-Pakistan trade policy.
  • Addressing the core issues:
    • Both Pakistan and India should recognise that terrorism, bigotry, majoritarianism and extremism are among the “core issues and concerns which have the propensity to disturb peace”.
    • Similarly, the rights of minorities have to be protected at all costs.
  • Reimagine the LoC as a ‘Line of Connectivity and Cooperation’:
    • The history of the post-World War II era conclusively shows that countries prosper when regions prosper, and when they give priority to “geoeconomics over geopolitics” – that is, by building links of physical, digital, trade, economic, cultural and people-to-people connectivity.
    • South Asia is the world’s most populous region. Yet, it is also the least integrated
    • We can make it a region of prosperity for all by jointly implementing ambitious connectivity projects
  • Joint effort in reconstruction of Afghanistan
    • Another big opportunity for India-Pakistan cooperation, which is also a responsibility for both, is to work together for peace, national reconciliation and national reconstruction in Afghanistan
  • Use SAARC as a platform:
    • South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summits can be the best platform for showing our common commitment to regional connectivity and to peace in Afghanistan, giving a fillip to South Asian cooperation, and also to restart the stalled India-Pakistan dialogue.

PRACTICE QUESTION:

Q. ‘India needs to view a peace with Pakistan not as a bilateral matter, but to dramatically transform South Asia for the better’. Discuss