The Indo-Pakistan border is the international border that separates the Republic of India and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The boundary stretches for approximately 2,300 kilometres through Jammu, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Gujarat. The India-Pakistan boundary spans 3,323 kilometres.
The border is known as the Radcliffe line. Cyrill Radcliffe, a British officer, created it in 1947. The border crossing is named Wagah after the Wahga hamlet, near which the Radcliffe Line was drawn.
The border runs through the following Indian states:
Jammu and Kashmir
What has the situation at the border been like in recent years?
Ceasefire Violations: The Jammu and Kashmir Line of Control (LoC) has been a particularly controversial area, with both India and Pakistan accusing each other of violating the ceasefire. Ceasefire breaches frequently result in gunfire and artillery shelling, resulting in casualties and destruction on both sides.
Military buildup: Both India and Pakistan have a substantial military presence near the border. Military exercises and occasional troop mobilizations have been sources of concern.
Humanitarian Concerns: Cross-border shelling and militant actions have resulted in civilian displacement, property damage, and loss of life in border areas, particularly in Jammu and Kashmir.
What is the historical background behind these cease-fire violations?
Kashmir dispute: The long-standing conflict over the province of Kashmir is the principal cause of tension between India and Pakistan. Both countries claim Kashmir but control different parts of it. This territorial issue extends back to the partition of British India in 1947 and has resulted in numerous wars and conflicts, including the 1947-48 First Kashmir War, the 1965 war, and the 1999 Kargil War. Although the Line of Control (LoC) was created following the 1947-48 conflict, it has been a frequent location of skirmishes and violations.
Terrorism Across the Border: India has accused Pakistan of aiding and housing numerous militant groups that carry out attacks in Indian-administered Kashmir and other parts of the country. Pakistan rejects these charges, but the issue has resulted in periodic tensions and violence along the border, with India accusing Pakistan of violating ceasefires to facilitate militant infiltration.
Water Disputes: The Indus Waters Treaty, agreed in 1960, divides the Indus River system’s waters between India and Pakistan. Water-sharing disagreements and concerns about the impact of water projects on downstream communities have occasionally strained relations and led to cross-border confrontations.
Historical wars: Historical wars between the two countries, such as the 1965 war and the 1971 war, have left a legacy of enmity and mistrust. While these disputes were settled by peace treaties, the fundamental concerns were not entirely addressed.
Geopolitical Factors: During the Cold War, the presence of external countries such as the United States and the former Soviet Union complicated the India-Pakistan relationship. These external forces worsened tensions and disputes at times.
Internal Political Considerations: Political events within India and Pakistan, such as changes in leadership and internal pressures, can influence foreign policies and border conflict resolution.
How many wars were fought between India and Pakistan?
First Kashmir War (1947-1948): This was India and Pakistan’s first war, also known as the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947-1948. The dispute over the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir sparked it. The war concluded with the formation of the Line of Control and a United Nations-brokered ceasefire.
Second Kashmir War (1965): The Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 was fought primarily over the issue of Kashmir, and it concluded in a ceasefire and the signing of the Tashkent Agreement in 1966.
Third Indo-Pakistani War (1971): This conflict, known as the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, differed from the previous wars in that it was unrelated to the Kashmir dispute. As a result, Bangladesh became an independent country. The conflict concluded on December 16, 1971, with the signing of the Instrument of Surrender.
Kargil War (1999): The Kargil War, also known as the 1999 Kargil Conflict, occurred in the Jammu and Kashmir district of Kargil. It was a brief battle centred on the incursion of Pakistani forces into Indian territory. The crisis was settled diplomatically, and a cease-fire was arranged.
What are the other recent skirmishes that happened between India and Pakistan?
On June 24, 2023, Indian forces fired across the line of control (LoC) at a group of Kashmiri shepherds in the Sattwal sector of Azad Kashmir. One Kashmiri was killed and another was badly injured.
More than 70 individuals were killed in virtually daily clashes between the Indian and Pakistani military in 2020. A truce in February 2021 effectively ended these skirmishes.
Pakistani military officials declared in 2019 that an airstrike had been carried out on numerous sites in Jammu and Kashmir.
Pakistan broke the ceasefire four times in 2023. Pakistan fired at least six times without provocation in 2022. There were 72 ceasefire violations on the international border and the Line of Control (LoC) in 2021.
What are the international responses to these Border issues?
Diplomatic Mediation: Several countries and international organizations have attempted to mediate between India and Pakistan to address border and Kashmir-related disputes. Since the 1940s, the United Nations, for example, has been active in mediating the Kashmir dispute. Following the 1971 war, the Shimla Agreement of 1972 included a promise to resolve disputes through bilateral negotiations. However, due to the complexities of the conflict and both countries’ unwillingness to accept third-party mediation, these mediation efforts have frequently generated minimal outcomes.
Calls for Restraint: When border clashes, war escalation, or ceasefire violations occur, the international community often urges both India and Pakistan to exercise restraint and avoid additional confrontations. Concerns about the possibility of a bigger confrontation, given the nuclear weapons capabilities of both countries, often prompt these calls.
Statements and resolutions: International bodies, such as the United Nations, may issue declarations and resolutions urging India and Pakistan to resolve their differences peacefully and in compliance with international law. The UN Security Council has approved many resolutions linked to the Kashmir conflict, including Resolution 47 in 1948, which called for a cease-fire and a plebiscite to determine Jammu and Kashmir’s future status. These decisions, however, have not been fully executed.
Monitoring Ceasefires: International observers, such as the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), have been stationed along the Line of Control in Kashmir to monitor ceasefires. They supply the international community with reports and assessments on ceasefire violations.
What is the Shimala Agreement of 1972?
The Shimla Agreement, also known as the Shimla Accord or Shimla Pact, was a peace pact signed on July 2, 1972, between India and Pakistan. The pact was signed in Shimla, the capital city of Himachal Pradesh, India.
Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Pakistan’s President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto signed the deal. It was the result of the 1971 India-Pakistan conflict. The war began as a result of Pakistan’s genocidal campaign against the Bengali community in East Pakistan.
The treaty outlined the principles that would govern the two countries’ future bilateral ties. It included the following:
Putting an end to the countries’ hostilities
Developing a comprehensive strategy for peaceful relations
Respecting each other’s national unity, territorial integrity, political independence, and sovereign equality
How can we prevent the ceasefire violations?
Continuous diplomatic communication is required to address the conflict’s core causes. Both countries should hold ongoing talks to resolve remaining concerns, particularly the Kashmir conflict.
Confidence-building measures (CBMs) can be used in diplomatic attempts to assist in developing confidence between two countries.
International Conflict Management:
The involvement of neutral third parties, such as the UN, the US, or China, can aid in mediating and facilitating discussions between India and Pakistan.
International mediation can give both countries a venue to discuss their issues and identify common ground.
Channels of Communication:
Maintain and strengthen direct communication channels between both countries’ military and diplomatic officials to avoid misunderstandings and unintentional escalation.
Improve border management procedures to ensure greater border coordination and understanding, minimizing the likelihood of infractions.
Use technology, such as surveillance systems and drones, to improve border monitoring.
Cross-Border Trade and Interpersonal Contact:
Encourage cross-border trade and economic cooperation to build interdependence and minimize the incentives for hostility.
People-to-people contacts, such as cultural exchanges and family reunions, should be encouraged to foster goodwill and mutual understanding.