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General Studies 1 >> Modern Indian History

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1. Context
Days after former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif admitted that Islamabad had “violated” the Lahore pact, India recently said an “objective view” was emerging on the issue in Pakistan.
2. About Lahore Declaration

The Lahore Declaration is a bilateral agreement and a pivotal diplomatic document between India and Pakistan, aimed at de-escalating nuclear tensions and promoting peace in the region. It was signed on February 21, 1999, during a historic summit between the then Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Nawaz Sharif, respectively.

Key Points of the Lahore Declaration

  • Both countries reaffirmed their commitment to the principles and objectives of the United Nations Charter and the Shimla Agreement, and their determination to implement the Simla Agreement in letter and spirit.
  • India and Pakistan underscored the need to prevent conflict and the proliferation of nuclear weapons. They agreed to take immediate steps to reduce the risk of accidental or unauthorized use of nuclear weapons and to improve communication to avoid misunderstandings and miscalculations.
  • The declaration emphasized the need for additional confidence-building measures (CBMs) to foster a climate of trust and mutual understanding. This includes prior notification of ballistic missile tests and enhancing the exchange of information on military exercises.
  • Both sides agreed to encourage more people-to-people contact and promote friendly exchanges in various fields, including cultural, scientific, and educational exchanges, which can play a crucial role in building goodwill.
  • The declaration included a mutual commitment to resolve all outstanding issues, including the contentious Kashmir issue, through peaceful means and a bilateral dialogue.
Context and Significance
  • The Lahore Declaration came shortly after both countries had conducted nuclear tests in 1998, which significantly raised regional and international concerns about the potential for nuclear conflict in South Asia.
  • The declaration was seen as a significant diplomatic breakthrough and a rare moment of warmth in the often fraught relations between India and Pakistan. Prime Minister Vajpayee’s visit to Lahore by bus was symbolically important and was meant to signal a desire for a fresh start in bilateral relations.
  • Despite the positive momentum created by the Lahore Declaration, subsequent events, such as the Kargil War in mid-1999 and the 2001 Indian Parliament attack, strained relations again. However, the declaration remains an important reference point in the history of Indo-Pak relations, symbolizing the potential for dialogue and peaceful resolution of disputes.
3. History of India-Pakistan bilateral relations

India and Pakistan share a complex and often turbulent history of bilateral relations, marked by periods of conflict, attempted peace initiatives, and ongoing efforts to resolve deep-seated issues. 

Pre-Independence and Partition (Before 1947)

  • Both India and Pakistan were part of British India until 1947. Tensions between Hindu and Muslim communities grew, culminating in demands for separate nations.
  • The British Indian Empire was divided into two independent dominions, India and Pakistan, based on religious lines. The partition led to massive population exchanges, communal violence, and the displacement of millions.
Early Conflicts and Wars (1947-1971)
  • Shortly after independence, the First Indo-Pak War (1947-1948) war broke out over the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. A UN-mediated ceasefire established the Line of Control (LoC), but the region remained disputed.
  • Another major conflict erupted over Kashmir, leading to the Second Indo-Pak War (1965). The Tashkent Agreement, mediated by the Soviet Union, resulted in a ceasefire and the return to pre-war boundaries.
  •  Political and civil unrest in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) led to the Bangladesh Liberation War (1971) between India and Pakistan. India’s military intervention supported the independence movement in East Pakistan, resulting in the creation of Bangladesh.
Efforts at Normalization and Continued Tensions (1972-1989)
  • In the aftermath of the 1971 war, Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi of India and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto of Pakistan signed the Simla Agreement (1972), agreeing to resolve issues through bilateral negotiations and maintaining the sanctity of the LoC in Kashmir.
  • Military skirmishes began in 1984 over the Siachen Glacier in the northern part of Kashmir, leading to a prolonged and costly conflict at high altitudes.
Nuclearization and Peace Initiatives (1990-2001)
  • Both countries conducted nuclear tests, India in May 1998 and Pakistan shortly thereafter, leading to international concerns about nuclear conflict in South Asia.
  • Prime Ministers Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Nawaz Sharif signed the Lahore Declaration in 1999, aiming to reduce nuclear risks and promote peace. However, this was soon overshadowed by the Kargil War.
  • Pakistani soldiers and militants infiltrated the Kargil district of Jammu and Kashmir, leading to a limited war in 1999. India regained the territory, but relations soured significantly.
  • An attempt to resolve differences through dialogue occurred at the Agra Summit in 2001, but it ended without a concrete agreement.
Terrorism and Diplomatic Fluctuations
  • A terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001, attributed to Pakistan-based groups, brought the two countries to the brink of war.
  • A series of bilateral talks were held to address various issues, including terrorism, trade, and Kashmir. Some progress was made, but the process was disrupted by the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
  • Coordinated terrorist attacks in Mumbai, carried out by militants from Pakistan, led to a severe diplomatic crisis. India suspended the dialogue process, demanding action against the perpetrators.
Recent Developments (2010-Present)
  • Terrorist attacks on Indian military bases (Pathankot and Uri Attacks) in 2016 further strained relations. India conducted surgical strikes across the LoC in response to the Uri attack.
  • A major terrorist attack in Pulwama, Kashmir, killed 40 Indian paramilitary personnel. India responded with an airstrike on a militant camp in Balakot, Pakistan, leading to aerial skirmishes.
  • India’s decision to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir (Article 370) further escalated tensions, with Pakistan strongly opposing the move and downgrading diplomatic ties.
Ongoing Challenges and Dialogue
  • Despite periods of heightened tension, both nations have occasionally reaffirmed ceasefire agreements along the LoC.
  • Various backchannel and Track II diplomacy efforts continue to seek avenues for improving relations, though substantive breakthroughs remain elusive.

4. What was the Kargil conflict?


The Kargil conflict, also known as the Kargil War, was an armed conflict between India and Pakistan between May and July 1999 in the Kargil district of Jammu and Kashmir, along the Line of Control (LoC). 

Causes and Planning

  • The primary motive for Pakistan's incursion was to disrupt the lifeline of the Indian military in Siachen and to internationalize the Kashmir issue by bringing it back into focus. By occupying high-altitude positions, Pakistan aimed to sever the link between Ladakh and Kashmir and force India to negotiate.
  • Pakistani soldiers and militants, disguised as insurgents, infiltrated across the LoC into the Indian side in the Kargil sector. They occupied strategic peaks and ridges, from where they could dominate the vital National Highway 1A, which connects Srinagar to Leh.
Key Events and Phases
  • The infiltration was discovered in early May 1999 when local shepherds reported unusual activity. The Indian Army initially thought the infiltrators were militants, but later realized that the intruders were well-equipped regular Pakistani soldiers and well-trained militants.
  •  India launched Operation Vijay to evict the intruders. The operation involved mobilizing a large number of troops and using artillery, air power, and infantry assaults to dislodge the Pakistani forces from the high-altitude positions they had occupied.
  • The Indian Air Force (IAF) conducted air strikes against the infiltrators, marking the first time since the 1971 war that air power was used in the region. The IAF faced significant challenges due to the high-altitude terrain and the need to avoid crossing the LoC to prevent escalation.
  • Fierce ground battles were fought at high altitudes, often over 16,000 feet, in extremely harsh conditions. Key battles took place at points such as Tololing, Tiger Hill, and Batalik, where Indian forces faced well-entrenched Pakistani positions.
By the end of July 1999, Indian forces had successfully recaptured most of the positions, and the remaining Pakistani soldiers and militants withdrew.
5. What was Operation Shakti?

Operation Shakti was the codename for a series of nuclear tests conducted by India in May 1998. These tests marked India's second entry into the group of declared nuclear-armed states, following its first nuclear test in 1974, which was codenamed "Smiling Buddha."

Key Details

  • The tests were conducted on May 11 and May 13, 1998. The tests took place at the Pokhran Test Range in the Thar Desert, Rajasthan, India.  India conducted five underground nuclear tests as part of Operation Shakti.
  • Three tests were performed on  May 11, 1998. These included a thermonuclear device (or hydrogen bomb), a fission bomb, and a sub-kiloton device. Two additional sub-kiloton nuclear tests were conducted.
  • The yield of the tests was a subject of international debate. The Indian government claimed the total yield to be around 45 kilotons, with the thermonuclear device contributing about 43 kilotons. However, some external analysts have questioned these figures, suggesting the yields may have been lower.
Objectives and Rationale
  • The primary objective was to establish a credible nuclear deterrent. India sought to enhance its security in the face of perceived threats from neighbouring countries, particularly Pakistan and China, both of which had nuclear capabilities.
  • The tests were also aimed at demonstrating India's advanced nuclear technology and capability, showcasing both fission and thermonuclear devices.
  • By conducting these tests, India aimed to assert its strategic autonomy and decision-making independence in the international arena.
Domestic and International Reactions
  • The tests were widely supported within India and boosted national pride. The then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee announced the success of the tests, emphasizing India's right to safeguard its national security.
  • The tests drew strong reactions from the international community:
    • The United States, Japan, and several other countries imposed economic and military sanctions on India in response to the tests.
    • There was widespread condemnation from countries advocating non-proliferation. The United Nations and various international bodies expressed concerns about the potential arms race in South Asia.
    • Pakistan conducted its own series of nuclear tests, known as Chagai-I, on May 28, 1998, to demonstrate its nuclear capability and maintain strategic balance in the region.
Legacy and Impact
  • Following the tests, India declared a "No First Use" (NFU) policy and committed to developing a credible minimum deterrent. India’s nuclear doctrine emphasized deterrence and the defensive nature of its nuclear arsenal.
  • Operation Shakti confirmed India's status as a nuclear-armed state, leading to a shift in its strategic posture and defence policy.
  • The tests reignited debates on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, with India arguing for a more equitable global nuclear order and criticizing the discriminatory nature of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
6. The areas of cooperation and conflict between India and Pakistan
Areas of Conflict
  • The primary source of conflict is the territorial dispute over Jammu and Kashmir. Both countries claim the region in full but control only parts of it. This has led to several wars (1947-48, 1965, 1971, and 1999 Kargil War) and continuous skirmishes along the Line of Control (LoC).
  • India accuses Pakistan of supporting and harbouring terrorist groups that carry out attacks in India, such as the 2001 Parliament attack, the 2008 Mumbai attack, and the 2016 Pathankot attack. Persistent issues of infiltration by militants from Pakistan into Indian-administered Kashmir.
  • Both countries’ nuclear tests in 1998 exacerbated tensions, leading to a regional arms race. The development of nuclear arsenals and delivery systems on both sides adds a layer of strategic threat and instability.
  • Both countries often clash in international forums, including the United Nations, over various issues, particularly Kashmir. Periodic downgrades in diplomatic ties and the expulsion of diplomats following terrorist attacks or military skirmishes.
  • Ongoing military standoff on the Siachen Glacier, one of the highest battlegrounds in the world. Dispute over the demarcation of the boundary in the Sir Creek area in the Rann of Kutch.

Areas of Cooperation

  • Establishment of hotlines between military commanders to prevent misunderstandings and manage crises. Agreements to cease hostilities along the LoC, though these are often violated.
  •  There have been periods where both countries have allowed trade across the LoC and through specific routes. Despite restrictions, there are sectors where trade continues, albeit limited.
  • Indus Waters Treaty (1960) A long-standing agreement mediated by the World Bank that governs the distribution of the waters of the Indus River system. Despite conflicts, both countries have largely adhered to this treaty.
  • Facilitation of pilgrimages for religious devotees, such as Sikh pilgrims visiting holy sites in Pakistan and vice versa. Instances of collaboration in sports (cricket, hockey) and cultural exchanges in music, literature, and film.
  • Instances of cooperation during natural disasters, such as earthquakes, where both countries have offered assistance.
  • Participation in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) initiatives, which aim to promote regional cooperation in various fields, including economic, technical, and cultural areas.
7. Way Forward

Building a peaceful and cooperative relationship between India and Pakistan requires sustained effort, trust-building, and addressing core issues through dialogue. By reinforcing confidence-building measures, enhancing diplomatic engagement, boosting trade, fostering people-to-people contact, and collaborating on shared challenges, both countries can work towards a more stable and prosperous future. The legacy of the Lahore Declaration and other peace initiatives can serve as a foundation for these efforts.

For Prelims: India-Pakistan, Lahore Declaration, Indus War Treaty, Terrorism, Kargil war, Bangladesh Liberation War, Sachin Glacier, SAARC, Line of Actual Control, Nuclear Non-Profilation Treaty, Article 370  
For Mains: 
1. Critically analyze Operation Shakti and its impact on India's nuclear doctrine and regional security dynamics. How did the international community react to India's nuclear tests, and what were the broader implications of these tests on global non-proliferation efforts? (250 Words)
2. Examine the role of external factors, such as terrorism and international diplomacy, in influencing India-Pakistan relations. How have events like the 2008 Mumbai attacks and the revocation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir impacted bilateral ties and regional stability?  (250 Words)
Previous Year Questions
1. Significance of Lahore Resolution (1940) of the Muslim League was (WBCS Prelims 2018)
A. To cooperate with National Congress
B. To create a constitution for the Muslim League
C. To cooperate with the British
D. Pakistan resolution was taken
2. Features of the Government of India Act 1935 are: (Rajasthan Police SI 2016)
(a) The provincial autonomy
(b) The establishment of Federal Court
(c) The establishment of All India Federation at the Centre
A. a and b       B.  b and c       C. a and c         D. a, b and c
3. The All India Muslim League was founded in 1906 at: (SSC MTS 2021) 
A. Lahore          B. Bombay       C.  Lucknow         D. Dacca
4. All India Muslim League was founded in the year (MPPSC 2014)
A. 1905          B. 1904        C. 1907       D. 1906

5. When did the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir come into force? (UPSC CAPF 2016)

A.26th January 1957

B. 15th August 1947

C. 25th July 1956

D.14th November 1947

6. State Legislature of Jammu and Kashmir can confer special rights and privileges on permanent residents of J and K with respect to - (MPSC 2019)

Find the correct options below.

(a) Employment under State Government

(b) Settlement in the state

(c) Acquisition of immovable property

(d) Right to Scholarship

(e) Right to entry into heritage sites

A.  (a), (b), (c), (d), (e)     B. (a), (b), (c), (d)        C. (a), (b), (c)            D. (a), (b)

Answers: 1-D, 2-D, 3-D, 4-D, 5-A, 6-B

1. Analyse the circumstances that led to the Tashkent Agreement in 1966. Discuss the highlights of the Agreement. ( UPSC 2013)
Source: The Indian Express

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