India-Pakistan Wars

India-Pakistan Wars

Since the partition of British India in 1947 and creation of India and Pakistan, the two South Asian countries have been involved in four wars, including one undeclared war, as well as many border skirmishes and military stand-offs.

The dispute for Kashmir has been the cause, whether direct or indirect of all major conflicts between the two countries with the exception of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, where conflict originated due to turmoil in erstwhile East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).


The Partition of India came about in the aftermath of World War II, when both Great Britain and British India were dealing with the economic stresses caused by the war and its demobilisation.[1] It was the intention of those who wished for a Muslim state to come from British India to have a clean partition between independent and equal "Pakistan" and "Hindustan" once independence came.[2]

The partition itself, according to leading politicians such as Mohammed Ali Jinnah, leader of the All India Muslim League, and Jawaharlal Nehru, leader of the Indian National Congress, should have resulted in peaceful relations. However, the partition of British India into India and Pakistan in 1947 did not divide the nations cleanly along religious lines. Nearly one third of the Muslim population of British India remained in India.[3] Inter-communal violence between Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims resulted in between 500,000 to 1 million casualties.[1]:6

Princely-ruled territories, such as Kashmir and Hyderabad, were also involved in Partition. Rulers of these territories had the choice of joining India or Pakistan. Both India and Pakistan laid claim on Kashmir and thus it became the main point of conflict.[1]:8[4] The ruler of Kashmir, which had a Muslim majority population, joined India by signing the Instrument of Accession.[4]


Indo-Pakistani War of 1947

This is also called the First Kashmir War. The war started in October 1947 when it was feared by the Pakistan that Maharajah of the princely state of Kashmir and Jammu might accede to India as choice was given to him on the matter to accede to any of the newly independent nations. Tribal forces from Pakistan attacked and occupied the princely state, resulting in Maharajah signing the Agreement to the accession of the princely state to India. The United Nations was invited by India to mediate the quarrel resulting in the UN Security Council passing Resolution 47 on 21 April 1948. The war ended in December 1948 with the Line of Control dividing Kashmir into territories administered by Pakistan (northern and western areas) and India (southern, central and northeastern areas).

Indo-Pakistani War of 1965

This war started following Pakistan's Operation Gibraltar, which was designed to infiltrate forces into Jammu and Kashmir to precipitate an insurgency against rule by India. India retaliated by launching an attack on Pakistan. The five-week war caused thousands of casualties on both sides and was witness to the largest tank battle in military history since World War II. The outcome of this war was a strategic stalemate with some small tactical victories. However, most neutral assessments agree that India had the upper hand over Pakistan when ceasefire was declared.[5][6][7][8][9] The war concluded after diplomatic intervention by the Soviet Union and USA and the subsequent issuance of the Tashkent Declaration.[10]

Indo-Pakistani War of 1971

Further information: Bangladesh Liberation War

The war was unique in that it did not involve the issue of Kashmir, but was rather precipitated by the crisis created by the political battle between Sheikh Mujib, Leader of East Pakistan and Yahya-Bhutto, leaders of West Pakistan brewing in erstwhile East Pakistan culminating in the declaration of Independence of Bangladesh from the state system of Pakistan. Following Operation Searchlight and the 1971 Bangladesh atrocities, about 10 million Bengalis in East Pakistan took refuge in neighbouring India.[11] India intervened in the ongoing Bangladesh liberation movement.[12][13] After a large scale pre-emptive strike by Pakistan, full-scale hostilities between the two countries commenced. Within two weeks of intense fighting, Pakistani forces in East Pakistan surrendered to the joint command of Indian and Bangladeshi forces following which the People's Republic of Bangladesh was created.[14] This war saw the highest number of casualties in any of the India-Pakistan conflicts, as well as the largest number of prisoners of war since the Second World War after the surrender of more than 90,000 Pakistani military and civilians.[15]

Indo-Pakistani War of 1999

Main article: Kargil War

Commonly known as Kargil War, this conflict between the two countries was mostly limited. During early 1999, Pakistani troops along with Kashmiri insurgents infiltrated across the Line of Control (LoC) and occupied Indian territory mostly in the Kargil district. India responded by launching a major military and diplomatic offensive to drive out the Pakistani infiltrators.[16] Fearing large-scale escalation in military conflict, the international community, led by the United States, increased diplomatic pressure on Pakistan to withdraw forces from Indian territory.[16][17] By the end of July 1999, organized hostilities in the Kargil district had ceased.[17]

Nuclear conflict

The nuclear conflict between both countries is of passive strategic nature with nuclear doctrine of Pakistan stating a first strike policy, although the strike would only be initiated if and only if, the Pakistan Armed Forces are unable to halt an invasion (as for example in 1971 war) or a nuclear strike is launched against Pakistan while India has a declared policy of no first use.

  • Pokhran-I (Smiling Buddha): On 18 May 1974 India detonated an 8 Kiloton[18] nuclear device at Pokhran Test Range becoming the first nation to become nuclear capable outside the five permanent members of United Nations Security Council as well as dragging Pakistan along with it into a nuclear arms race[19] with the Pakistani prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto swearing to reciprocate India.[20] The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Munir Ahmed Khan said that the test would force Pakistan to test its own nuclear bomb.[21]
  • Kirana-I: In 1980s a series of 24 different cold tests were conducted by Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission led by chairman Munir Ahmad Khan under extreme secrecy.[22] The tunnels at Kirana Hills, Sargodha, are reported to have been bored after the Chagai nuclear test sites, it is widely believed that the tunnels were constructed sometime between 1979 and 1983. As in Chagai, the tunnels at Kirana Hills had been bored and then sealed and this task was also undertaken by PAEC's DTD.[22] Later due to excessive US intelligence and satellite focus on the Kirana Hills site, it was abandoned and nuclear weapons testing was shifted to the Kala Chitta Range.
  • Pokhran-II (Operation Shakti): On 11 May 1998 India detonated another 5 nuclear devices at Pokhran Test Range. With jubilation and large scale approval from the Indian society came International sanctions as a reaction to this test. The most vehement reaction of all coming from Pakistan. Great ire was raised in Pakistan, which issued a severe statement claiming that India was instigating a nuclear arms race in the region. Pakistan vowed to match India's nuclear capability with statements like, "We are in a headlong arms race on the subcontinent."[23][24]
  • Chagai-I: (Youm-e-Takbir) Within half a month of Pokhran-II, on 28 May 1998 Pakistan detonated 5 nuclear devices to reciprocate India in the nuclear arms race. Pakistani public, like the Indian, reacted with a celebration and heightened sense of nationalism for responding to India in kind and becoming the only Muslim nuclear power. The day was later given the title Youm-e-Takbir to further proclaim such.[25][26]
  • Chagai-II: Two days later, on 30 May 1998, Pakistan detonated a 6th nuclear device completing its own series of underground tests with this being the last test the two nations have carried out to date.[26][27]

Other armed engagements

Apart from the aforementioned wars, there have been skirmishes between the two nations from time to time. Some have bordered on all-out war, while others were limited in scope. The countries were expected to fight each other in 1955 after warlike posturing on both sides, but full-scale war did not break out.[10]


  • Atlantique Incident: Pakistan Navy's Naval Air Arm Breguet Atlantique patrol plane, carrying 16 people on board, was shot down by the Indian Air Force for alleged violation of airspace. The episode took place in the Rann of Kutch on 10 August 1999, just a month after the Kargil War, creating a tense atmosphere between India and Pakistan. Foreign diplomats noted that the plane fell inside Pakistani territory, although it may have crossed the border. However, they also believe that India's reaction was unjustified.[40] Pakistan later lodged a compensation claim at the International Court of Justice, accusing India for the incident, but the Court dismissed the case in a split decision ruling the Court did not have jurisdiction.[41]
  • 2008 Mumbai attacks: Following ten coordinated shooting and bombing attacks across Mumbai, India's largest city, tensions heightened between the two countries since India claimed interrogation results alleging[42][43] Pakistan's ISI supporting the attackers while Pakistan denied it.[44][45][46] Pakistan placed its air force on alert and moved troops to the Indian border, voicing concerns about proactive movements of Indian Army[47] and the Indian government's possible plans to launch attacks on Pakistani soil.[48] The tension defused in short time and Pakistan moved its troops away from border.
  • The 2011 India–Pakistan border shooting incident took place between 30 August (Tuesday) and 1 September 2011 (Thursday) across the Line of Control in Kupwara District/Neelam Valley, resulting in one Indian soldier and three Pakistani soldiers being killed. Both countries gave different accounts of the incident, each accusing the other of initiating the hostilities.[49][50]
  • 2013 India-Pakistan border incident in the Mendhar sector of Jammu & Kashmir, due to the beheading of an Indian soldier. A total of 6 soldiers died (2 Indian and 4 Pakistani Soldiers)[51] Later on in August the issues again rise after the alleged killing of 5 Indian soldiers which rose the tension between these two countries.

Annual celebrations

Involvement of other nations

  •  Soviet Union:
    • USSR remained neutral during the 1965 war[55] and played a pivotal role in negotiating the peace agreement between India and Pakistan.[56]
    • The USSR provided diplomatic and military assistance to India during the 1971 war.[57][58][59]
  •  United States:
    • US had not given any military aid to Pakistan in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965.[60]
    • The United States provided diplomatic and military support to Pakistan during the 1971 war.[61][62][63]
    • The United States did not support Pakistan during the Kargil war, and successfully pressurized Pakistani government to end hostilities.[16][64][65]
  •  China:
    • China had helped Pakistan in various wars with military and diplomatic support.[5][66][67]
  •  Russia:
    • Russia maintained a non-belligerent policy for both sides. Russia helped negotiate a peace in 2001–02 and helped divert the 2008 crises.[68][69]

In popular culture

These wars have provided source material for both Indian and Pakistani film and television dramatists, who have adapted events of the war for the purposes of drama and to please target audiences in their nations.

Films (Indian)
Miniseries/Dramas (Pakistani)

See also


External links

  • Dean Peter Krogh Foreign Affairs Digital Archives
fi:Intian ja Pakistanin kiistat