Prelims level : International (India and its Neighbours) Mains level : GS-2 (India and its neighbourhood- relations)
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Why in News:

  • Pakistan has opened one route for west-bound flights from India after it shut its airspace for all civilian flights following the Indian Air Force’s strikes at Balakot.


  • Since the ban by Pakistan on the use of its airspace, several flights within Asia, between Asia and West Asia or Europe or the U.S. were forced to take a longer route,
  • results an increase in flight duration and sometimes a halt for refuelling. This led to an increase in operational costs, forcing many airlines to cancel flights or hike fares.

India–Pakistan relations:

  • Relations between India and Pakistan have been complex and largely hostile due to a number of historical and political events. Relations between the two states have been defined by the violent partition of British India in 1947, the Kashmir conflict and the numerous military conflicts fought between the two nations.

Conflict Zones:

The main factors which have contributed to the strained relations between the two countries are

Siachen Glacier:

  • There has been demands for withdrawal of Indian troops from Siachen. However, Siachen holds a strategic importance for India and India has refused to agree to the demand. It was suggested to make it a demilitarized zone. India and Pakistan almost managed this in Nov. 1992. The agreement on Siachen was in mutual withdrawal of troops from new positions, the creation of “a zone of complete disengagement”, and “zone of peace and tranquillity”.

Sir Creek Problem:

  • Sir Creek is a 60 km estuary in the Rann of kutch. The Rann of kutch lies between Gujarat on the India side and Sindh on Pakistan side. The main problem arises between India and Pakistan because of the boundary live which divides Sir Creek.

Arms Race:

  • Developed nations led by the USA have expressed their concern over dangerous arms race going on in Indian subcontinent. India conducted her first nuclear test in 1974 after that Pakistan has been secretly developing its nuclear capabilities.

Tulbul / Wullur Project:

  • The issue was between India and Pakistan. It relates to a barrage to be constructed by the J&K on the Jhelum just below the Wullur lake. The object of the barrage is to allow navigation over a distance of some 20 kms, between Wullur lake and the Kashmir town of Baramulla.


  • The Root Cause of Clash: Before the merger, the state was attached by Pak-sponsored armed infiltrators. They were repulsed but a portion of Kashmir came under infiltrators. Today, the part of Kashmir is known as Pak occupied Kashmir (POK).
  • During the conflict, the matter was raised in UNO by India. The UN appointed commission called United Nations commission for India and Pakistan to restore peace and arrange for plebiscite in Kashmir. However, it failed to bring desired result. In favour of Kashmir, Pakistan argues that Kashmir is pre-dominantly a Muslim populated state and according to ‘Two Nation Theory’, its natural place is in Pakistan.
  • It further says that all three major rivers of Pakistan – Indus, Jhelum and Chenab – originate in Kashmir. So health of Pakistan’s agriculture depends on Kashmir “being a part of Pakistan’. India counters Pakistan argument by saving that it never accepted Jinnah’s two nation theory. Moreover, there are more Muslims living in independent India than in Pakistan. India decided to refer the Kashmir question to the security council of the UN in the year 1948. It requested security council to ask Pakistan government to sort out the difficulties. Pakistan demanded that Kashmir accession to India was illegal. The resolution affirmed the right of Indian army to defend the state. The security council resolution could not be implemented because both India and Pakistan failed to comply with its conditions.


Present Context and the Issues in India-Pakistan Relationship:

  • With the regime change in India, there was a perception that a hard line and staunch policy towards Pakistan would be followed. However, the current Prime Minister (PM) of India put forward the idea of ‘Neighborhood First’, which was particularly aimed at improving relationships within the Indian Subcontinent.
  • There were initiatives taken by the government, for example, inviting the Prime Minister of Pakistan for the swearing-in ceremony of the new PM of India, an unscheduled visit to Lahore by the Indian PM to the residence of the PM of Pakistan, which showed some signs of positive development.
  • However, with the attack on the Indian Air Force Base in 2016 (Pathankot) January, just a few days after Indian PM visited the Pakistani counterpart, events thereafter haven’t been really encouraging. There has been a complete stoppage of talks at all levels in between the nations. Speculations, however, run that back-channel talks exist.
  • Terrorist attacks on security forces since have increased and the attack on the Uri Army base camp in September 2016, where 19 Indian soldiers were killed, was also carried by an organization, which has its roots in Pakistan. (Lashkar-e-Taiba, also responsible for 26/11 attacks)
  • The case of Kulbushan Jadhav, a retired Indian Naval officer arrested nears the Iran- Pakistan border in Baluchistan region by the Pakistani establishment and accused of espionage by Pakistan.
  • On 14 February 2019, a convoy of vehicles carrying security personnel on the Jammu Srinagar National Highway was attacked by a vehicle-borne suicide bomber in the Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir. The attack resulted in the deaths of 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel and the was counter attacked by India at Balakot occurred on 26 February 2019, when twelve Mirage 2000H jets of the Indian Air Force crossed the Line of Control in Kashmir to perform an airstrike on what India says was a terrorist training camp inside Pakistan.

Benefits, from a good India-Pakistan Relationship:

  • If there is peace at the border and a solution of Kashmir is arrived upon, then the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, which is passing through Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK)
  • can certainly benefit Kashmir, its people and the economy. Kashmir can act as a gateway to Central Asia.
  • Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline which originates in Turkmenistan and passes through Afghanistan, Pakistan before reaching and terminating in India can also get huge benefits as it can help secure the National Energy needs of both Pakistan and India, which are potentially growing nations with increasing needs of energy.
  • Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline is another project, which is currently stalled. If relations are cordial, then this pipeline can also supply the energy needs of both nations.
  • A stable Afghanistan is in the best interest of both Pakistan as well as India. Terrorism is affecting both India as well as Pakistan and the porous boundary between Afghanistan and Pakistan provides a safe haven for terrorists. Also, a better relationship with Pakistan can give direct road access to Afghanistan. Currently, India has to go via Iran to Afghanistan to send any trade goods and vice versa.
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