India-Pakistan Relations

After grueling decades of conflict, will there be a solution?

Key Actors:

  • Great Britain – colonized the Indian subcontinent and ruled there for two centuries
  • India – a Hindu majority state that has been the result of the partition in 1947
  • Pakistan – a Muslim majority state created in 1947 partition

Historical Perspective

India and Pakistan have been sworn enemies for almost 70 years. Following the withdrawal of Great Britain from its British-Indian empire in 1947, India and Pakistan became independent states carved out of the former British Raj. The partition created a Hindu-majority India and an overwhelmingly Muslim Pakistan.

The division of Pakistan and India was caused mainly by the sense of difference in identity and the rise of instability in the government, which caused the states to be socially and politically unstable at the time.

Dislocation soon erupted in both states, with Hindus and Sikhs fleeing to India and Muslim Indians migrating to Pakistan. Violence and war broke out during this period and continued until today.

Kashmir Conflict

The conflict between India and Pakistan became sour from the very beginning of the partition. In July 1947, about five weeks before Great Britain’s departure from its Indian subcontinent, Cyril Radcliffe, a British Lawyer was commissioned to divide the boundaries of India and Pakistan. In fact, he left out the disputed territory of Kashmir for any state to accede to.

Because of this decision, India and Pakistan fought over the control of the Kashmir territory and has become the longest conflict in military history.

Before the partition, the Kashmir state was ruled under the Maharaja Hari Singh, the king of the ruling royal family. Since Kashmir’s location is wedged between Pakistan and India, the Maharaja was asked to join one or the other. Unable to decide which nation Kashmir should join, the Maharaja chose to remain neutral.

However the Maharaja’s hopes of staying independent was thwarted by the invading Muslim tribesmen forces sent from Pakistan. Their intervention to liberate their Muslim brothers in Kashmir eventually persuaded the Maharaja to appeal to the Indian government for military support. Under pressure from Pakistan, the Maharaja finally ceded Kashmir to India in October 1947. Pakistan refused to accept the accession and thus, Indian and Pakistani forces fought their first war over Kashmir during 1947 to 1948. Kashmir is still a disputed territory with a de facto line that separates Indian-occupied and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

What’s happening now?

With the recent election of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, Pakistan’s new PM may lessen the grim relationship with India. Internationally, Khan has called to resolve the Kashmir dispute within the parameters of the UN security council resolution. However with Pakistan’s internal turmoil, Khan will find difficulty in resolving Pakistan’s relationship with India.


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“A Brief History of the Kashmir Conflict.” The Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group, 24 Sept. 2001,

“India-Pakistan Relations: A 50-Year History.” Asia Society,

Aziz, Saba. “Pakistan: Who Is Imran Khan?” Israeli–Palestinian Conflict | Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, 18 Aug. 2018,

Khattak, Daud. “Imran Khan’s Foreign Policy Approach.” The Diplomat, The Diplomat, 21 Aug. 2018,

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