India, Pakistan and CBMs

Courtesy:- Muhammad Zeeshan Hayat

India and Pakistan the two major countries of South Asia shares history, culture and 1,800 miles long border but never enjoyed stable and healthy relations because of deeply rooted enmity which mainly emanates from ideological and religious differences which is fueled by a number of unresolved issues like Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek and water issue, etc.

Since the partition both the countries have fought three major wars as well as there were many border skirmishes and military standoffs. Many analysts believe that the animosity between the two has hindered the social, political and economic development in sub-continent and prevented the region from realizing its full potentials and this enmity has given nothing except wars, hostility, unstable relations, trust deficit and hatred for each other and if both countries really want to progress they have to bring peace by resolving all outstanding disputes for which there should be a conducive environment in which issues can be addressed and one way of creating that environment is through confidence building measures (CBMs).
The CBMs are the actions or diverse arrangements such as hotlines, People- to-people exchanges, prior notifications of military exercises taken to prevent wars, to reduce tensions and promote good neighbourly relations. The CBM measure helps to eliminate the element of secrecy in any military action and make the behavior of state more predictable. Numbers of successful confidence building measures have been applied throughout the world but in general main CBM tools are communication, constraint, transparency and verification.
Communication channels among states help to defuse tensions during moment of crisis, constraint measures are designed to keep certain types and levels of state’s military at a distance from one another, transparency measures foster openness of military capabilities and activities and verification measures are designed to confirm or verify a state’s compliance with a particular treaty or agreement.
Pakistan and India have also developed CBMs like structures and agreement since their independence but most of the CBMs were prompted by wars and during period of high tensions associated with military exercises. Following the 1971 war a dedicated communication link or hotline was established between DGMOs of both the countries but it has never been properly used during crisis.
A similar hotline was installed between the Prime Ministers of both the countries Benazir Bhutto and Rajiv Gandhi in 1989 but now at present no such hotline is working between India and Pakistan. In 1966 Tashkent declaration, which concluded the 1965 Indo-Pak war, stated that both countries will not interfere in the internal affairs of each other and in 1972 after 1971 war Simla accord was signed which obliges both the countries to renounce the use of force as a means of settling outstanding disputes and in addition both sides agreed to resolve their disputes through bilateral negotiations but implementation of both these declarations has been weak. Pakistan argues that India refuses to negotiate the final status of Kashmir while India argues that by seeking third party involvement Pakistan is acting contrary to Simla accord.
Other Agreements include prior notification of military exercises and prevention of violation of airspace were signed in 1991.
The first nuclear CBM agreement on the non-attack of nuclear facilities was signed by Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in December 1988. According to this agreement both countries require to exchange the list detailing the location of all nuclear related facilities in each other country on annual basis and the measure further pledged both sides not to attack the listed facilities, the list of facilities covered by this agreement are now exchanged periodically. After the addition of nuclear dimension to the security environment between both the countries the responsibility of avoidance of war increased so in February 1999 Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee and Pakistani Prime minister Nawaz Sharif met in Lahore and agreed to a Joint Statement by the Prime Ministers; a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) by the Foreign Secretaries; and the Lahore Declaration itself, again made by the Prime Ministers. The nuclear concerns identified in the Lahore documents are nuclear safety, security, use control, limits on threat, and alert status. A series of CBMs were proposed to address these concerns.
The major observations about most of these CBMs are that they were more reactive measures than proactive and parties were forced to conclude these CBMs because of the situation and that may be the reason that these CBMs didn’t work out well because CBMs cannot be forced upon parties that are still infused with such raw emotion and mistrust. The CBMs could only proceed smoothly if the countries involved possess the political will to see the measure through to their fruition. The most difficult process in CBMs is their implementation which requires a political will, trust, perseverance, public support and vision of the benefits of CBMs and it can be possible through small steps like friendly cricket matches, exchange of artists, exchange of students, etc. which can pave a way for stronger CBMs.
The MFN status given to India and signing of visa liberalization pact will also help in increasing trade between the two countries and will increase people-to-people contacts which may create an environment of trust, openness and reduce the tension and hostility between the two countries. Now in a globalized world both countries should realize that war is not the solution of any problem it will not only affect them but also the whole region as well and instead of solution it will further complicate the problems.
If both India and Pakistan want to progress they will have to improve their relations so that they can invest on other more important things than military and create an environment of peace by finding permanent solution of all the outstanding problems through negotiations which obviously requires political will and strong democratic governments.

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