Indo-Pakistani wars and conflicts

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

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. Additionally, India has accused Pakistan of engaging in proxy wars by providing military and financial assistance to violent non-state actors.

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]


Sherman tanks of 18th Cavalry (Indian Army) on the move during the 1965 Indo-Pak War.
Pakistan's PNS Ghazi, was a significant threat to Indian Navy in 1965 and 1971 wars.

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 Kashmiris 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 for both sides. The war concluded after diplomatic intervention by the Soviet Union and USA and the subsequent issuance of the Tashkent Declaration.[5]

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 brewing in erstwhile East Pakistan. Following Operation Searchlight and the 1971 Bangladesh atrocities, about 10 million Bengalis in East Pakistan took refuge in neighbouring India.[6] India intervened in the ongoing Bangladesh liberation movement.[7][8] 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 India following which the People's Republic of Bangladesh was created.[9] 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.[10]

Indo-Pakistani War of 1999

Commonly known as Kargil War, this conflict between the two countries was mostly limited. Pakistani troops along with Kashmiri insurgents infiltrated across the Line of Control (LoC) and occupied Indian territory mostly in the Kargil district. The Pakistani government believed that its nuclear weapons would deter a full-scale escalation in conflict but India launched a major military campaign to flush out the infiltrators.[11] Due to Indian military advances and increasing foreign diplomatic pressure, Pakistan was forced to withdraw its forces back across the LoC.[5]

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.

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.[5]


Annual celebrations

Involvement of other nations

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


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External links