Cold Peace between India and Pakistan


    In News

    • In recent years, there is now a certain ‘cold peace’ between India and Pakistan relations.

    More about the news:

    • India-Pakistan relations have entered an age of minimalism:  
      • There is very little bilateral contact today, even fewer expectations of a bilateral breakthrough.
      • And yet, there is a certain ‘cold peace’ between the traditional rivals — on the Line of Control, inside Kashmir and in the verbal exchanges between the two sides. 
    • Relations till now:
      • India-Pakistan relations of the kind we have been used to over several decades now – characterised by intense engagement, high value terror attacks, Indian responses, a breakdown of talks, and eventual resumption of talks; rinse and repeat.

    Bilateral Relations between India-Pakistan 

    • Attempts for engagement: 
      • India has made a number of attempts to build normal neighbourly relations with  Pakistan.
      • The External Affairs Minister’s (EAM)  also took the initiative to propose a Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue in December 2015. 
    • Trade and Commerce:
      • Bilateral rade:
        • 2020-2021:
          • The total bilateral trade between India and Pakistan was USD 329 million in 2020-2021. 
        • 2021-2022:
          • This has gone up to USD 514 million in 2021-2022, as per the ministry of commerce, with Indian exports outnumbering imports from Pakistan.
      • Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status:
        • India had accorded MFN status to Pakistan in 1996. 
        • A Pakistan cabinet decision of November 02, 2011 to reciprocate remains unimplemented
    • Humanitarian:
      • In 2017, India suggested to Pakistan to revive the mechanism of the Joint Judicial Committee which looks into humanitarian issues of fishermen and prisoners in each other’s custody.
    • Cultural: 
      • The visit to religious shrines between India and Pakistan is governed by the  Bilateral Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines signed between India and Pakistan in  1974. 
      • Kartarpur Corridor: 
        • Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi inaugurated the Kartarpur Sahib  Corridor in 2019 on the occasion of the 550th birth Anniversary of Guru  Nanak Dev Ji and flagged-off the first group of pilgrims to Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib.

    Major Issues between both the countries 

    • India’s relations with Pakistan are the most complex of its ties with its neighbours. 
    • Terrorism:
      • Terrorism emanating from territories under Pakistan’s control remains a core  concern in bilateral relations.
      • Pulwama cross-border terror attack: 
        • In a heinous and despicable act of cross  border terror attack on the convey of Indian security forces in Pulwama, Jammu &  Kashmir in 2019, 40 security personnel were martyred
    • On J&K:
      • India’s revocation of the special status of J&K:
        • The relations between the two countries have remained strained for years now and took a turn for the worse in August 2019 when India revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
      • Pakistan’s stand:
        • In 2019, Pakistan announced unilateral measures, including the downgrading of diplomatic relations, suspension of bilateral trade and review of bilateral agreements with India. 
      • India has urged Pakistan to review its unilateral actions in respect of relations with India so that normal channels of diplomatic communications are preserved.
    • Pakistan’s ambitions and Demands:
      • It aims to change the status quo in Jammu and Kashmir with a three-pronged strategy: 
        • Violent destabilization of Kashmir while raising human rights concerns in global forums, 
        • Reopening the Kashmir question that India believed was settled after the 1971 war, and 
        • Leveraging global nuclear concerns to force Indian concessions on Kashmir. 

    Possible reasons cited for the ‘cold peace’ between the Nations

    • Historical legacy:
      • The relationship is the history of missed opportunities, failed attempts at conflict resolution, political inability to resolve conflicts and the lack of political will on either side. 
    • Hate & populism:
      • For all the talk about conflict resolution, there is no easy way to resolve their complicated conflicts. 
      • Resolving the bilateral conflict resolution may get harder due to rising populism fuelled by online hate. 
    • No conflict resolutions till now:
      • None of the key bilateral conflicts between the countries has been resolved since the Indus Waters Treaty of 1960.
      • So, the traditional logic in India that it should first settle its conflicts with Pakistan and then move on to addressing the bigger challenges may not be applicable.
    • Defending Kashmir:
      • There is now a certain confidence in India today that it does not need to talk to Pakistan to ensure peace inside Kashmir.
      • There is growing confidence in India about its capability to defend Kashmir against Pakistani aggression or terror attacks.
    • Other geopolitical challenges:
      • Both sides today are preoccupied with other geopolitical challenges — Pakistan with the Taliban-led Afghanistan, and India with an aggressive China on its borders.

    Way Ahead

    • The frequent acknowledgement by both countries that they have much to gain from trade and connectivity in economic areas has taken a back seat to revival of tensions, the shadow of unresolved disputes and geopolitical considerations by both sides.
    • Although issues between Pakistan and India are long-standing, progress is possible. 
    • Leaders on both sides of the border need to develop a national consensus in support of the peace process and bring all stakeholders including the core constituencies, media and opposition parties on board.

    Source: TH