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The Jammu and Kashmir Dispute Has Been and Is Still at the Heart of Pakistan’s Relationship with India. How Have This Impacted Pakistan’s External Relations with India and Other Countries, as Well as Its Internal Developments?

Autor:   •  February 4, 2018  •  2,741 Words (11 Pages)  •  270 Views

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Undoubtedly, the dispute has been at the heart of Pakistan’s relationship with India. Despite the various efforts that had been made at both ends, bilateralism proved to be a great failure in reaching any decisive settlements. This has affected Pakistan’s external relations with India and other states to a great extent. Consequently, Pakistan’s foreign policy and relation with India has gone through various phases, which are essential to evaluate. The first phase of the conflict was marked by the Kashmir War in 1947-48, which shaped the future course of the relations between the two states. The years leading up to the culmination of the Cold War were essentially based upon acquiring the allianceof the Super Powers by both India and Pakistan, to garner support for their interests and stance over Kashmir. While, Pakistan aligned with the United States, India chose to support USSR. Both, United States and USSR urged the two nations to adopt a balanced approach and solve the dispute through diplomatic means. However, tensions between India and Pakistan continued to accelerate owing to mutual distrust and territorial aspirations internalized through the Kashmir issue. Upon insistence from United States and United Kingdom, six rounds of talks were organized between the foreign minister of India and Pakistan during early 1960s, but proved to be futile due to the lack of flexibility from both ends and three wars were fought during this period (Pildat 13-14). Moreover, it can be aptly ascertained that a further blow to bilateral relations occurred with the Kashmir uprising in the 1990s due to the rigging of the 1987 elections by the Indian government machinery. Since then, the conflict has taken a cyclical trend marked with short periods of dialogues and de-escalation, quickly shifting back to confrontation. Regardless of the agreements made in the mid-1990s on several “Confidence Building Measures” (CBMs) such as the denunciation of chemical weapons, identification of no-fly zones, and prior information of military exercises near the borders, the situation became strained with India’s adoption of Nuclear Technology in 1998. Threatened by the possibility of a nuclear war, the international community intervened and encouraged an open dialogue between India and Pakistan. This led to a “Composite Dialogue” in which India agreed on considering Kashmir Issue as a separate component on the 8 point agenda. As an extension of this dialogue, both states signed a Memorandum of Understanding agreeing to strive to resolve the Kashmir Issue (Akram Vol 2 No.4). Nonetheless, the inability of both states to agree upon mutual appeasement has turned Kashmir Issue into a stalemate making it the most dangerous place on Earth. According to Rajan, durable and long-term peace in Kashmir requires “systematic” and “continuous” negotiations over a long period of time. The absence of clearly defined schedule for meetings and obligatory methodology for negotiations are the crucial factors responsible for the protracted conflict (11). As a result, the relations between India and Pakistan have had severe regional implications. Regionalism in South Asia has been difficult to promote making it one of the poorest and war-torn regions of the world. In analyzing the internal politics of the region, many observers have been of the opinion that the territorial disputes between India and Pakistan, especially Kashmir issue have served as a major impediment for inter-regional trade and have created a trust deficit.

In addition to severing relations with India, the Kashmir Issue has also played a significant role in impacting Pakistan’s relations with other external states and has been a defining feature for its foreign policy. During the Cold War, United States had been relatively supportive of Pakistan’s stance over Kashmir and had provided military assistance, however didn’t overtly declare its downright support to Pakistan against India. It was after the occurrence of 9/11, that United States became clearer on its position over Kashmir. It considered Kashmir to be a focal point for the effective containment of terrorism and have strategized with Pakistan along those lines. In explaining the dynamic of Pak-US relations pertaining to Kashmir issue Schaffer asserts, “The traditional focus of the Pakistan armed forces on combating a perceived threat from India and the continuing patronage that Pakistani intelligence agencies provide to Islamic extremists in Kashmir make it more difficult, both politically and militarily, for Islamabad to help the United States and its coalition partners combat the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda” (Council on Foreign Relations). Thereby, the alleged support by Pakistan to insurgent groups in Kashmir has built pressure on Pakistan and challenged its status as United States front-line ally on War on Terror. In addition to United States, China’s position on Kashmir Issue and relations with Pakistan has gone through different phases. What began as a neutral position in 1950s, the 1960s and 1970s saw China declare public support to Pakistan. Since the early 1980s, however, with China and India moving towards establishing bilateral relations, Beijing returned to a position of neutrality even as it sought to balance between the need to satisfy Pakistan’s demands for support and the growing interest in developing a better relationship with India. By the early 1990s, China’s position became explicit that the Kashmir issue is a bilateral matter to be solved by India and Pakistan through peaceful means (Yuan Volume 5).

Furthermore, the internal development of Pakistan has also been influenced by the protracted conflict in Kashmir. Firstly, investment in the defense budget required to combat India and protect its borders has strained Pakistan’s economy greatly, reducing the pace of urban and industrial development. In addition, the issue has also played a significant role in the internal politics of Pakistan. Despite being a trans-border dispute, it has never been unanimously regarded as a bone of contention by diverse regional and ethnic groups of the country. Many have considered it to be a protection of Punjab’s interest within the Federation due to cultural and geographical homogeneity of Kashmir with Punjab, when any step had been taken. This has sparked conflict at provincial level as Bengal, NWFP, Sindh and Balochistan believed that national rights of smaller provinces were being exploited on the pretense of Kashmir issue, which is why they have exhibited limited concern. Similarly, lack of a coherent and systematic Kashmir policy at political and administrative level during Parliamentary and Military regimes alike has been central to the internal issues of Pakistan. A delay in forming a decisive policy has further been caused due to rampant shifts in government. For politicians, Kashmir


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