India-Pak War

India and Pakistan have been in conflict ever since independence. The Indian subcontinent was partitioned 1947 and ever since there has been a conflict of interests. The most violent conflicts have been in 1947-48, 1965, 1971 and 1999.

The 1947-48 War

The first war arose over Kashmir, in 1947 when the Hindu ruler appealed to India for aid, agreeing to cede the state to India in return. Some Muslims summoned the support of Pakistani troops. India moved into Kashmir and pushed the Pakistan's back. On the advice of Lord Mountbatten (Britain's last viceroy in India in 1947 and governor general of India, 1947-48), the Indian government sought United Nations (UN) mediation of the conflict on December 31, 1947.

There was some opposition to this move within the cabinet by those who did not agree with referring the Kashmir dispute to the UN. The UN mediation process brought the war to a close on January 1, 1949. Negotiations between India and Pakistan began and lasted until 1954 without resolving the Kashmir problem. Pakistan controlled part of the area, Azad (Free) Kashmir, while India held most of the territory, which it annexed in 1957. In all, 1,500 soldiers died on each side during the war.

The 1965 War

The second war began in Apr., 1965, when fighting broke out in the Rann of Kachchh, a sparsely inhabited region along the West Pakistan-India border. In August fighting spread to Kashmir and to the Punjab, and in September Pakistani and Indian troops crossed the partition line between the two countries and launched air assaults on each other's cities. After threats of intervention by China had been successfully opposed by the United States and Britain, Pakistan and India agreed to a UN-sponsored cease-fire and withdrew to the pre-August lines.

Prime Minister Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri of India and President Ayub Khan of Pakistan met in Tashkent, USSR (now in Uzbekistan), in Jan., 1966, and signed an agreement pledging continued negotiations and respect for the cease-fire conditions. After the Tashkent Declaration another period of relative peace ensued. The Indian side lost 3,000 while the Pakistani side suffered 3,800 battlefield deaths.

The 1971 War

Indo-Pakistani relations deteriorated when civil war erupted in Pakistan, pitting the West Pakistan army against East Pakistanis demanding greater autonomy. The fighting forced 10 million East Pakistani Bengalis to flee to India. When Pakistan attacked Indian airfields in Kashmir, India attacked both East and West Pakistan. It occupied the eastern half, which declared its independence as Bangladesh, on Dec. 6, 1971.

A UN cease-fire was arranged in mid-December, after Pakistan's defeat. Pakistan lost its eastern half, an army of 100,000 soldiers, and was thrown into political turmoil. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto emerged as the leader of Pakistan, and Mujibur Rahman as prime minister of Bangladesh. Tensions were alleviated by the Shimla accord of 1972, and by Pakistan's recognition of Bangladesh in 1974, but tensions have periodically recurred.

The Kargil War, 1999

Even as India, was constantly accusing Pakistan of encouraging terrorist activities in India, Pakistan seemed to go on with its agenda. Apart from army regulars Pakistan turned to the mujahideens and decided to push them along with army into the Indian positions. Terrorists from Lashkar-e-Tayyeba, Harkat-ul-Ansar and Afghan War veterans were also grouped with each battalion to give it a facade of jihad.

However, much to the discomfort of Pakistan the Zoji La pass opened up early with the weathering clearing up and Indians got a wind of the Pakistani incursions and by early June 1999. There was heavy exchange of artillery fire between Indian and Pakistani forces. It was at this point of time that India realized the damage that has been caused as several vantage points along the heights were taken over by Pakistanis. After review of the situation India tuned to its Air Force to resort strikes that actually broke the backbone of the intruders.

Moreover as points after points occupied by Pakistan army fell to Indian forces there was greater international pressure on Pakistan to stop incursions. The then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharrif rushed to the United States for assistance fearing a full fledged Indian invasion into Pakistan but he was told by the US administration to first withdraw all its forces from the region. Sharrif was forced to sign the withdrawal of forces that led to a great embarrassment to the Pakistani forces.