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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]


Refugees awaiting evacuation by IAF Dakota on Poonch Airstrip, December 1947.

File:18Cav on move.jpg

Sherman tanks of 18th Cavalry (Indian Army) on the move during the 1965 Indo-Pakistani War.

Pakistan's PNS Ghazi, the Pakistani submarine which was claimed to have been sunk by the Indian Navy

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

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

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[citation needed] 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,[citation needed] 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]

Skirmishes and standoffs

  • Indian integration of Junagadh: The princely state of Junagadh, which had a Hindu majority and a Muslim ruler acceded to Pakistan on 15 September 1947, claiming a connection by sea. Pakistan's acceptance of the Instrument of Accession was seen as a strategy to get a plebiscite held in Kashmir which had a Muslim majority and a Hindu ruler. Following communal tensions Indian military entered the territory which was protested by Pakistan as a violation of International law. Later a plebiscite was held and the accession was reversed for the state to join India.[28][29][30][31]
  • Operation Brasstacks: (the largest of its kind in South Asia), conducted by India between November 1986 and March 1987, and Pakistani mobilisation in response, raised tensions and fears that it could lead to another war between the two neighbours.[10]:129[32]
  • 2001-2002 India-Pakistan standoff: The terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament on 13 December 2001, which India blamed on the Pakistan-based terrorist organisations, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, prompted the 2001–2002 India-Pakistan standoff and brought both sides close to war.[33]
  • 2008 India Pakistan standoff: a stand off between the two nations following the 2008 Mumbai attacks which was defused by diplomatic efforts. 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[34][35] Pakistan's ISI supporting the attackers while Pakistan denied it.[36][37][38] Pakistan placed its air force on alert and moved troops to the Indian border, voicing concerns about proactive movements of Indian Army[39] and the Indian government's possible plans to launch attacks on Pakistani soil.[40] The tension defused in short time and Pakistan moved its troops away from border.

Standing armed conflicts

  • Kashmir conflict: Other than the three wars mentioned in above section, the conflict, since accession of the state on 26 October 1947, has been an on and off major cause for the tensions between the two nations.
  • Sir Creek: The dispute lies in the interpretation of the maritime boundary line between Kutch and Sindh. Before India's independence, the provincial region was a part of Bombay Presidency of British India. After India's independence in 1947, Sindh became a part of Pakistan while Kutch remained a part of India. Pakistan lays claim to the entire creek as per paras 9 and 10 of the Bombay Government Resolution of 1914[41] signed between the then Government of Sindh and Rao Maharaj of Kutch.[42]
  • Siachen conflict: In 1984, India launched Operation Meghdoot capturing most of the Siachen Glacier. Further clashes erupted in the glacial area in 1985, 1987 and 1995 as Pakistan sought, without success, to oust India from its stronghold.[10][43]
  • Insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir: An insurgency in Indian-administered Kashmir has been a cause for heightened tensions.
  • India–Pakistan maritime trespassing: frequent trespassing and violation of respective national territorial waters of India and Pakistan in peacetime occurs commonly by Pakistani and Indian fishermen operating along the coastline of the Indian state of Gujarat and the Pakistani province of Sindh. Most violations occur due to the absence of a physical boundary and lack of navigational tools for small fishermen. Hundreds of fishermen are arrested by the Coast Guards of both nations, but obtaining their release is difficult and long-winded owing to the hostile relations between the two nations.[44][44][45][46]


  • 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.[47] 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.[48]
  • 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.[citation needed]

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)
  • Hindustan Ki Kasam, a 1973 Hindi war film based on Operation Cactus Lilly of the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War, directed by Chetan Anand.
  • Aakraman, a 1975 Hindi war film based on the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war, directed by J. Om Prakash.
  • Vijeta, a 1982 Hindi film based on the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war, produced by Shashi Kapoor and directed by Govind Nihalani.
  • Param Vir Chakra, a 1995 Hindi film based on Indo-Pakistani War, directed by Ashok Kaul.[70]
  • Border, a 1997 Hindi war film based on the Battle of Longewala of the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war, directed by J.P.Dutta.
  • LOC Kargil, a 2003 Hindi war film based on the Kargil War, directed by J.P.Dutta
  • Deewaar, a 2004 Hindi film starring Amitabh Bachchan based on the POW of the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war, directed by Milan Luthria.
  • Lakshya, a 2004 Hindi film partially based on the events of the Kargil War, directed by Farhan Akhtar.
  • 1971, 2007 Hindi war film based on a true story of prisoners of war after the Indo-Pakistani war of 1971, directed by Amrit Sagar
  • Kurukshetra, a 2008 Malayalam film based on Kargil War, directed by Major Ravi.
Films (Pakistani)
  • Waar, a 2013 Pakistani English action movie surrounding Pakistan's role in war on terror and Indian involvement against Pakistan, directed by Bilal Lashari.
Miniseries/Dramas (Pakistani)
  • Angaar Waadi, an Urdu drama serial based on Indian occupation of Kashmir, directed by Rauf Khalid[71]
  • Laag, an Urdu drama serial based on Indian occupation of Kashmir, directed by Rauf Khalid[71]
  • Operation Dwarka, 1965, an Urdu drama based on the naval Operation Dwarka of 1965, directed by Qasim Jalali
  • PNS Ghazi (Shaheed), an Urdu drama based on sinking of PNS Ghazi, ISPR
  • Alpha Bravo Charlie, an Urdu drama serial based on three different aspects of Pakistan Army's involvement in action, directed by Shoaib Mansoor
  • Shahpar, an Urdu drama serial based on Pakistan Air Force, directed by Qaisar Farooq & Syed Shakir Uzair
  • Sipahi Maqbool Hussain, an Urdu drama serial based on a 1965 war POW, directed by Haider Imam Rizvi

See also


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  2. Ambedkar, B.R. (1946). Pakistan, or Partition of India (2 ed.). AMS Press Inc. p. 5. ISBN 978-0-404-54801-8. 
  3. Dixit, Jyotindra Nath (2002). India-Pakistan in War & Peace. Routledge. p. 13. ISBN 978-0-415-30472-6. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Unspecified author (6 November 2008). "Q&A: Kashmir dispute". BBC News – South Asia. BBC. Retrieved 30 October 2011. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Pakistan :: The Indo-Pakistani War of 1965". Library of Congress Country Studies, United States of America. April 1994. Retrieved 2 October 2010.  Quote: Losses were relatively heavy--on the Pakistani side, twenty aircraft, 200 tanks, and 3,800 troops. Pakistan's army had been able to withstand Indian pressure, but a continuation of the fighting would only have led to further losses and ultimate defeat for Pakistan.
  6. Hagerty, Devin. South Asia in world politics. Rowman & Littlefield, 2005. p. 26. ISBN 0-7425-2587-2.  Quote: The invading Indian forces outfought their Pakistani counterparts and halted their attack on the outskirts of Lahore, Pakistan's second-largest city. By the time United Nations intervened on September 22, Pakistan had suffered a clear defeat.
  7. Wolpert, Stanley (2005). India (3rd ed. with a new preface. ed.). Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 235. ISBN 0520246969.  Quote: India, however, was in a position to inflict grave damage to, if not capture, Pakistan's capital of the Punjab when the cease-fire was called, and controlled Kashmir's strategic Uri-Poonch bulge, much to Ayub's chagrin.
  8. India and the United States : Estranged democracies, 1941-1991. Washington, DC: National Defense University Press. 1992. p. 238. ISBN 0788102796.  Quote: India had the better of the war.
  9. "Asia: Silent Guns, Wary Combatants". 1 October 1965.,33009,834413-2,00.html. Retrieved 30 August 2013.  Quote: India, by contrast, is still the big gainer in the war. Alternate link:,8816,834413,00.html
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Lyon, Peter (2008). Conflict between India and Pakistan: an encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 82. ISBN 978-1-57607-712-2. Retrieved 30 October 2011. 
  11. Christophe Jaffrelot, Gillian Beaumont. A History of Pakistan and Its Origins. Anthem Press, 2004. ISBN 1-84331-149-6, 9781843311492. 
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  20. APP and Pakistan Television (PTV), Prime minister Secretariat Press Release (18 May 1974). "India's so-called Peaceful Nuclear Explosion (PNE) is tested and designed to intimidate and establish "Indian hegemony in the subcontinent", most particularly Pakistan....Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Prime minister of Pakistan, on May of 1974.". Statement published on Associated Press of Pakistan and the on-aired on Pakistan Television (PTV). 
  21. Khan, Munir Ahmad (18 May 1974). "India's nuclear explosion: Challenge and Response". Munir Ahmad Khan, Chairman of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, and former director of the IAEA Reactor Division. International Atomic Energy Agency and Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission. 
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  56. See: Tashkent Agreement
  57. "1971 India Pakistan War: Role of Russia, China, America and Britain". The World Reporter. Retrieved 30 October 2011. 
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  61. John P. Lewis (9 December 1971). "Mr. Nixon and South Asia". p. 47. "The Nixon Administration's South Asia policy... is beyond redemption" 
  62. 1971 War: How the US tried to corner India. Retrieved on 2011-04-14.
  63. Burne, Lester H. (2003). Chronological History of U.S. Foreign Relations: 1932–1988. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-93916-X, 9780415939164. 
  64. Dialogue call amid fresh fighting - – BBC News
  65. Bill Clinton (2004). My Life. Random House. ISBN 0-375-41457-6. , Pg 865
  66. Pakistan and India Play With Nuclear Fire By Jonathan Power The Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research
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  68. Naqvi, Javed (29 December 2001). "Pressure mounts to stall war rhetoric". Retrieved 24 December 2012. 
  69. Agencies (4 October 2012). "Pakistan, Russia renewing ties". Retrieved 24 December 2012. 
  70. "Param Vir Chakra (1995)". IMDB. Retrieved 26 November 2011. 
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External links

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