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Bleeding Borders: A Tale of India and Pakistan

73 years of independence, adjoining borders, people of the same yet different faiths, and estranged families—India and Pakistan have had a shared history, ripped apart by the Partition. Separated by borders, divided by religions, and fuelled by constant revulsion on either side, the hostile relations between these two neighbouring countries in Asia are well known throughout the world. Everybody is well aware of how these two countries have always been at loggerheads since the violent happenings in 1947. Multiple military and socio-political skirmishes have added fuel to the fire, and the relationship has been plagued continuously with hatred and intrusion.

The Beginning of Antagonism–the Colossal Conundrum

The bond between these two countries did not turn sour overnight. On the 14th of August 1947, British India was separated into two dominions–India, now known as the Republic of India, and Pakistan, now known as the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. This partition relocated, and devastated, approximately 10 to 12 million people along religious lines, resulting in uncontrollable refugee crises and carnage. Post-partition, the two countries indulged in several cold wars over subjects like territorial claims, invasion and infiltration. Multiple issues during the partition and after independence worsened the already fragile bond between themThis territorial separation brought about a feeling of resentment between the two countries, taking the constant verbal, diplomatic, political, and military brawls even further. Around the same time, India and Pakistan were faced with two dilemmas.

The partition of India into two dominions, namely India and Pakistan, proved to be a turning point in the entangled history of these two neighbouring countries. [Image Credits:  Hindustan Times]

First, the annexation of the princely state of Junagarh situated in southwestern Gujarat was a topic of heated arguments between the two nations. Junagarh was completely separated from Pakistan as they were not conterminous. Even though this princely state had a Hindu dominated population, the Nawab, Mahabat Khan, was a Muslim. During the partition, the Nawab moved to Pakistan and expected his constituency to side with him. India found this act illegitimate and strongly disagreed with it since Junagarh did not share a common border with Pakistan. On the other hand, Pakistan argued that Junagarh could remain connected to Pakistan through maritime links. Sardar Vallabhai Patel felt that the annexation of Junagarh would lead to communal riots across Gujarat and did not find it feasible to settle this matter. Hence, Indian troops occupied Junagarh in 1947 and 1948, and a poll decided that the majority agreed with accession to India.

The second problem still continues to deride the relationship between the two countries. A princely state with a Muslim majority, Kashmir was ruled by Maharaja Hari Singh. The ruler wanted Kashmir to remain an independent, neutral country instead of belonging to either of the two dominions. Despite the agreement signed between the two countries, Pakistani troops invaded Kashmir in an operation code-named “Operation Gulmarg” to conquer the state by force. These troops failed in seizing the unprotected airfield and stayed back in Baramulla for unknown reasons. Kashmiri security forces were incapacitated, and the Maharaja did not desire to be a part of Pakistan and thus turned to India for help.

Security troops patrol along the Line of Control (LoC) even as the relations between the two countries on either side of this border continue to remain fraught with tension and mistrust. [Image Credits: Kashmir Observer]

The then leaders of the Indian dominion made Hari Singh accede to India before sending troops to Kashmir. Post-independence, there were several agreements and pacts which resulted in the partitions within Kashmir. Political differences and local disputes have been the cause of several battles in the past. Kashmir still remains sundered between the two dominions by the Line of Control (LoC).

The J&K Split and Pakistan’s Stance

In August 2019, the government in power in India abrogated Article 370 which gave Jammu and Kashmir the authority to have a separate constitution and a separate flag. The result of this law was that the state’s citizens lived under a completely different set of rules. This article consequently removed the status of statehood from Jammu and Kashmir and divided it into two union territories, namely Kashmir and Ladakh.

Across the border, the Imran Khan-led government approached several countries, including the P-5 and the United Nations, for aid over the Article 370 move in Jammu and Kashmir but to no avail. Pakistan has always considered Jammu and Kashmir to be a part of it and made statements in the past which denied the existence of Article 370. According to the Pakistani government, Jammu and Kashmir was a part of Pakistan, so they did not have to follow the rules of the Indian Constitution anyway. All previous governments of Pakistan, including the present one, has continuously used Jammu and Kashmir as a medium to justify the two-nation theory. The constant interference of Imran Khan and his ministers in India’s legal matters has made the status of J&K clear to the rest of the world.

Wars, battles, and the global battle against terrorism

These two occurrences of the past sowed the seed of loathing between the two nations. In the last seven decades, India and Pakistan have indulged in several military conflicts, such as the three Indo-Pakistani wars in 1948, 1965 and 1971, The Kargil War and The Siachen Conflict. Several other instances, such as the Insurgency in Kashmir, Uri and Pulwama attacks, and the Refugee Crisis, have further aggravated the situation.

The nuclear race between the two countries has been heating up for the past few decades, as the strong will to be better than the other thrives among India and Pakistan. After a triumphant military campaign against Pakistan in 1971, India gained military as well as political momentum. In the 1970s, India started diligently developing its nuclear and ballistic missiles, in response to which Pakistan started conducting unmanned flight tests in the 1990s. Over the years, both countries have broadened their military bases and shown significant development in the field of nuclear power.

A common misconception states that a significant cause of the two countries’ rivalry is religious disparity. Pakistan’s founding principle as a haven for Muslims away from the Hindu-majority in India is negated if they had a positive relationship with India. Though the creation of a nation-state, Pakistan, based on religion, is one of the numerous reasons for conflict, it is not the primary reason for this animosity. India maintains perfectly cordial ties with a similarly created state, Bangladesh. The curious case of the European continent, where countries have waged wars with each other despite having populations of the same faith and religion, shows that religion alone cannot be a disruptor of relations between nations.

The terror attack by Pakistani terrorists on the Taj in Mumbai, known as the attack of 26/11, devastated hundreds of lives in a single deadly blow. [Image Credits: Telegraph India]

Hand in hand with wars, global terrorism remains one of the most crucial aspects that severely affect India and Pakistan’s bond. The fact that terrorism remains publicly recognised by Pakistan’s government makes it very difficult to conduct normal relations with them. Pakistan has obliquely shown support to terror groups by housing them within the country and is known for its perennial support of the Taliban in Afghanistan and other terror organisations in India-occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

In 2008, Pakistan was declared as the most active sponsor of terrorism. Four of the most wanted terrorists in the world have been captured and assassinated in Pakistan. India has not shied away from bringing up this subject during discussions with other United Nations members. With constant war cries, blame games and instigation, the condition between these two dominions remains hostile, even as Pakistan’s continued denial of supporting or sponsoring terrorism continues to baffle many on the international arena.

The Relentless Battle for Peace

The Indians and Pakistanis residing in the United Kingdom and the United States of America fall under the category of British Asians and South Asian Americans. They have been co-existing with peace and harmony, and intermarriages between Indians and Pakistanis abroad are not uncommon. There have been a few instances where the two nations have been cordial and lent a helping hand when in need, such as the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan when India offered financial aid, food and clothes to those in distress and vice versa during the 2001 earthquake in Gujarat.

Several summits and discussions have occurred between the two dominions, which, unfortunately, have been disrupted by unruly political or military activity. The thin wire of adjustment and compensation among the two countries now has a tremendous amount of strain and may snap sooner than later–the unavoidable results of which will only be destruction and bloodshed.

Carried over for generations, this animosity between a peace-loving nation and a subterfuge loving country has never yielded an appealing result for either side. India and Pakistan have both tried peace, wars, and even diplomatic settlements, which get overridden by political gimmicks driven by people’s sentiments, but none of these tactics has given even a short-lived solution to this long-lasting problem of frayed relations. There seems to be no likelihood of a feasible enough solution to the India-Pakistan conflicts. And until a common ground of peace and understanding is reached, the people on either side of the border will continue to bleed–bleed in the colours of their nation’s pride, vengeance, and sorrow.

Featured Image Credits: Financial Times

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