Source: Indian Express


  • Prelims: Current events of international importance(India-Pakistan relations, LOC, SAARC etc
  • Mains GS Paper II: Bilateral, regional and global grouping involving India and affecting India’s interests, India and its neighborhood-relations



  • There has been little engagement between the governments of India and Pakistan for some years now.
    • The only exception was the ceasefire agreement of February 2021.



India-Pakistan Relations:

  • With the partition of British India, two separate nations, India and Pakistan were formed.
  • Since the very beginning, the immediate violent partition, wars, terrorist attacks and various territorial disputes overshadowed the connection.


Areas of contention:

Areas of Cooperation:


India-Pakistan relations and efforts:

  • Current ruling coalition in Pakistan: The major elements of the current government have at various times in the last three decades made a sincere effort at negotiating peace with India.
    • Overruled by the then-Army leadership.


Indian diplomat(Satinder Lambah)-Book-In Pursuit of Peace: India-Pakistan Relations:

  • Lambah was centre of the repeated Indian efforts over the recent decades to negotiate peace with Pakistan.
  • He served as India’s deputy high commissioner and later as high commissioner in Pakistan.
  • He oversaw the Pakistan desk as the joint secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs.
  • Lambah was the special envoy of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who negotiated an ambitious peace agreement with Pakistan’s General Pervez Musharraf on Kashmir.
  • Lambah insists that it is unwise for India not to engage a large and significant neighbor like Pakistan.


Challenges in India-Pakistan relations(By Lambah):

  • Pakistan’s internal volatility in terms of engagement with India.
  • There is no guarantee that the results from the negotiations with one leader would be honored by his successor.
  • Bureaucratic and public pressures on the Indian prime ministers not to sign sensible agreements.
    • They might be seen by the public as making undue concessions to Pakistan.
  • There have been many instances when Indian leaders pulled back from agreements that they said yes to but changed their minds soon after.
  • The reluctance to turn even successful negotiations into formal compacts is rooted in the massive public emotion attached to the relationship in both countries.
  • The multitude of grievances on both sides, accumulated in the run-up to the Partition and since, hangs heavily over the bilateral engagement.


Positives between India and Pakistan:

  • There is extraordinary mutual goodwill at the level of individuals and large sections of civil society.


Satinder Lambah-negotiations with Pakistan:

  • Between 2004 and 2007: Lambah completed the substantive part of the negotiation.
  • PM in January 2014; The settlement could not be clinched because of the political turbulence in Pakistan.


Factors that intervened to nip the possibilities:

  • On the Pakistan side: General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani was unwilling to pursue the peace process.
    • The downfall of Musharraf saw the return of cross-border terrorism, as witnessed in the Mumbai terror attacks of November 2008.
    • It diminished the public support in India for the engagement with Pakistan.


Progress in relationship:

  • The negotiations were the closest India and Pakistan came to resolving the Kashmir question.
    • Lambah: The “course of history” between India and Pakistan and the subcontinent could have turned towards a “permanent peace”.
  • The period from 2004 to 2007 was a moment of extraordinary effort to transform bilateral relations with Pakistan.
  • PM Manmohan Singh built on the foundation built by Vajpayee’s visit to Pakistan in January 2004.
  • India and Pakistan came close to agreements on:
    • Siachen and Sir Creek disputes
    • liberalizing trade ties
    • cross-border energy and power trading
    • expanding tourism and people-to-people contact.


Lambah’s Pursuit of Peace:

  • He provides deep insights into key issues and the many significant episodes in the tragic diplomatic history of the two nations.
  • It gives valuable historical background, the political context and interesting diplomatic detail on the origin and evolution of his Kashmir negotiation.
  • It tells us about the definitive guidelines under which he negotiated on Kashmir and the scrupulous effort in India to avoid changing the territorial disposition in Kashmir or violating the Indian Constitution.


Way Forward

  • An agreement: It was close to signature in the most contested domain of India-Pakistan relations
    • It leaves us some hope for the future – when leaders across the Radcliffe Line someday can retrace the path treaded by Lambah.
  • If India and Pakistan do return to the negotiating table, there might be no going back to the old formulae.
    • India now wants to decisively change the terms of engagement with Pakistan.
    • Since the balance of power between India and Pakistan continues to shift in favor of India.
    • The Indian economy today is 10 times larger than Pakistan’s.
  • The inability of Pakistan’s elite to get its economic act together, restore a measure of internal political cohesion, and reorient its foreign policy towards regional cooperation will only deepen the imbalance.



Increasing cross border terrorist attacks in India and growing interference in the internal affairs of several member states by Pakistan are not conducive for the future of SAARC (South Asian Association For Regional Cooperation).” Explain with suitable examples.(UPSC 2016) (200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)


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