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World > Middle East > Pakistan > Foreign Relations (Notes)

Pakistan - Foreign Relations (Notes)


FOREIGN RELATIONS
After September 11, 2001, Pakistan's prominence in the international community increased significantly, as it pledged its alliance with the U.S. in the war on terror and made a commitment to eliminate terrorist camps on its territory. Historically, Pakistan has had difficult and volatile relations with India, long-standing close relations with China, extensive security and economic interests in the Persian Gulf, and wide-ranging bilateral relations with the United States and other Western countries. It expresses a strong desire for a stable Afghanistan.

India
Since partition, relations between Pakistan and India have been characterized by rivalry and suspicion. Although many issues divide the two countries, the most sensitive one since independence has been the status of Kashmir.

At the time of partition, the princely state of Kashmir, though ruled by a Hindu Maharajah, had an overwhelmingly Muslim population. When the Maharajah hesitated in acceding to either Pakistan or India in 1947, some of his Muslim subjects, later aided by tribesmen from Pakistan, revolted in favor of joining Pakistan. In exchange for military assistance in containing the revolt, the Kashmiri ruler offered his allegiance to India. Indian troops occupied the eastern portion of Kashmir, including its capital, Srinagar, while the western part came under Pakistani control.

India submitted this dispute to the United Nations on January 1, 1948. One year later, the UN arranged a cease-fire along a line dividing Kashmir but leaving the northern end of the line not demarcated and the Vale of Kashmir (with the majority of the population) under Indian control. India and Pakistan agreed to a resolution that called for a UN-supervised plebiscite to determine the state's future This plebiscite has not occurred because the main precondition, the withdrawal of both nations? forces from Kashmir, has failed to take place.

Full-scale hostilities erupted in September 1965, when India alleged that insurgents trained and supplied by Pakistan were operating in India-controlled Kashmir. Hostilities ceased 3 weeks later, following mediation efforts by the UN and interested countries. In January 1966, the leaders of India and Pakistan met in Tashkent, U.S.S.R., and agreed to attempt a peaceful settlement of Kashmir and their other differences.

Following the 1971 Indo-Pakistan conflict, President Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi met in the hill station of Shimla, India, in July 1972. They agreed to a line of control in Kashmir resulting from the December 17, 1971, cease-fire, and endorsed the principle of settlement of bilateral disputes through peaceful means. In 1974, Pakistan and India agreed to resume postal and telecommunications linkages and to enact measures to facilitate travel. Trade and diplomatic relations were restored in 1976 after a hiatus of 5 years.

India's nuclear test in 1974 generated great uncertainty in Pakistan and is generally acknowledged to have been the impetus for Pakistan's nuclear weapons development program. In 1983, the Pakistani and Indian Governments accused each other of aiding separatists in their respective countries--Sikhs in India's Punjab state and Sindhis in Pakistan's Sindh province. In April 1984, tensions erupted after troops were deployed to the Siachen Glacier, a high-altitude, desolate area close to the China border not demarcated by the cease-fire agreement (Karachi Agreement) signed by Pakistan and India in 1949.

Tensions diminished after Rajiv Gandhi became Prime Minister in November 1984 and after a group of Sikh hijackers was brought to trial by Pakistan in March 1985. In December 1985, President Zia and Prime Minister Gandhi pledged not to attack each other's nuclear facilities. A formal 'no attack' agreement was signed in January 1991. In early 1986, the Indian and Pakistani Governments began high-level talks to resolve the Siachen Glacier border dispute and to improve trade.

Bilateral tensions increased in early 1990, when Kashmiri militants began a campaign of violence against Indian Government authority in Jammu and Kashmir. Subsequent high-level bilateral meetings relieved the tensions between India and Pakistan, but relations worsened again after the destruction of the Ayodhya mosque by Hindu extremists in December 1992 and terrorist bombings in Bombay in March 1993. Talks between the Foreign Secretaries of both countries in January 1994 ended in deadlock.

More recently, the Indo-Pakistani relationship has veered sharply between rapprochement and conflict. After taking office in February 1997, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif moved to resume official dialog with India. A number of meetings at the foreign secretary and prime ministerial level took place, with positive atmospherics but little concrete progress. The relationship improved markedly when Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee traveled to Lahore for a summit with Sharif in February 1999. There was considerable hope that the meeting could lead to a breakthrough.

In spring 1999, infiltrators from Pakistan occupied positions on the Indian side of the Line of Control in the remote, mountainous area of Kashmir near Kargil, threatening the ability of India to supply its forces on Siachen Glacier. By early summer, serious fighting flared in the Kargil sector. The infiltrators withdrew following a meeting between Prime Minister Sharif and President Clinton in July. Relations between India and Pakistan were particularly strained during the 1999 coup in Islamabad. Then, just weeks after the September 11, 2001 attack on the United States, an attack on India's Parliament on December 13 further strained this relationship.

The prospects for better relations between India and Pakistan improved in early January 2004 when a summit meeting of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) permitted India?s Prime Minister Vajpayee to meet with President Musharraf. Both leaders agreed to establish a Composite Dialogue to resolve their disputes. The Composite Dialogue focuses on eight issues: confidence building measures, Kashmir, Wullar barrage, promotion of friendly exchanges, Siachen glacier, Sir creek, terrorism and drug trafficking, and economic and commercial cooperation. The first round of the Composite Dialogue was held in New Delhi on June 27-28, 2004.

Relations further improved when President Musharraf met Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New York in October 2004. Additional steps aimed at improving relations were announced when Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh visited Islamabad in February 2005 and in April 2005 when President Musharraf traveled to India to view a cricket match and hold discussions. In a further display of improved relations, bus service commenced from Pakistan-controlled Kashmir to Srinagar in April 2005. After a destructive earthquake hit the Kashmir region in October 2005, the two countries cooperated with each other to deal with the humanitarian crisis.

Musharraf and Singh last met in September 2006 at the Non-Aligned Summit in Havana. At this meeting, the two leaders condemned all acts of terrorism and agreed to continue the search for options acceptable to both sides for a peaceful, negotiated settlement of all issues, including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir. The foreign secretaries of both nations opened the fourth round of the Composite Dialogue in Islamabad on March 13-14, 2007.

Afghanistan
Following the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Pakistani Government played a vital role in supporting the Afghan resistance movement and assisting Afghan refugees. After the Soviet withdrawal in February 1989, Pakistan, with cooperation from the world community, continued to provide extensive support for displaced Afghans. Continued turmoil in Afghanistan prevented the refugees from returning to their country. In 1999, more than 1.2 million registered Afghan refugees remained in Pakistan. Pakistan was one of three countries to recognize the Taliban regime of Afghanistan. International pressure after September 11, 2001, prompted Pakistan to reassess its relations with the Taliban regime and support the U.S. and international coalition in Operation Enduring Freedom to remove the Taliban from power. Pakistan has publicly expressed its support to Afghanistan's President Karzai and has pledged $100 million toward Afghanistan's reconstruction. Both nations are also working to strengthen cooperation along their rugged border, including making preparations to hold joint jirgas in their restive border areas.

People's Republic of China
In 1950, Pakistan was among the first countries to recognize the People's Republic of China (PRC). Following the Sino-Indian hostilities of 1962, Pakistan's relations with China became stronger; since then, the countries have regularly exchanged high-level visits resulting in various agreements. China has provided economic, military, and technical assistance to Pakistan. Favorable relations with China have been a pillar of Pakistan's foreign policy. The PRC strongly supported Pakistan's opposition to Soviet involvement in Afghanistan and is perceived by Pakistan as a regional counterweight to India and Russia.

Iran and the Persian Gulf
Historically, Pakistan has had close geopolitical and cultural-religious linkages with Iran. However, strains in the relationship appeared following the Iranian revolution. Pakistan and Iran supported different factions in the Afghan conflict. Also, some Pakistanis suspect Iranian government support for the sectarian violence that has plagued Pakistan. However, relations between the countries have improved since their policies toward Afghanistan have converged with the fall of the Taliban. Both countries contend that they are on the road to strong and lasting friendly relations.

Pakistan historically has provided military personnel to strengthen Gulf-state defenses and to reinforce its own security interests in the area.


Facts at a Glance: Geography - People - Government - Economy - Communications - Transportation - Military - Climate - Current Time - Ranking Positions - Pakistan Rupee Exchange Rates
Notes and Commentary: People - Economy - Government and Political Conditions - Historical Highlights - Foreign Relations - Relations with U.S.



Facts at a Glance
Geography
People
Government
Economy
Communications
Transportation
Military
Climate
Current Time
Ranking Positions
Pakistan Rupee Exchange Rates


Notes and Commentary
People
Economy
Government and Political Conditions
Historical Highlights
Foreign Relations
Relations with U.S.





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