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Since the Partition of India in August 1947, which resulted in the creation of the Republic of India and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, there have been three major wars, one minor war and numerous armed skirmishes between the two countries. In each case, except the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, where the dispute concerned East Pakistan, the casus belli was the disputed region of Kashmir.


Origins of conflict

The Partition of India came about in the aftermath of World War II, when both Britain and British India were dealing with the economic stresses caused by the war and its demobilizaiton. [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 50 percent 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.[4]

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 Pakistan and India laid its claim on Kashmir and thus it became the main point of conflict.[5]

The Wars in chronological order

  • Indo-Pakistan War of 1947: This is also called the First Kashmir War. The war started in October 1947 when the Maharajah of the princely state of Kashmir and Jammu was pressured to accede to either of the newly independent states of Pakistan or India. Tribal forces prompted by Pakistan attacked and occupied the princely state, forcing the Maharajah to sign the "Agreement to the accession of the princely state to India". The United Nations was then invited by India to mediate the quarrel. The UN mission insisted that the opinion of the Kashmiris must be ascertained. The UN Security Council passed 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-Pakistan War of 1965: This war started following of 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. It ended in a United Nations (UN) mandated ceasefire and the subsequent issuance of the Tashkent Declaration.
  • Indo-Pakistan 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, about 10 million Bengalis in East Pakistan took refuge in neighboring India.[6] Because of the impending humanitarian crisis and its own interest in dismembering Pakistan, India intervened in the ongoing Bangladesh liberation movement. After a failed pre-emptive strike by Pakistan, full-scale hostilities between the two countries commenced. Within two weeks of intense fighting, Pakistani forces surrendered to India following which Bangladesh was created.[7] 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 nearly 90,000 Pakistani police and civilians. It is believed that 1,000,000-3,000,000 Bangladeshis were killed as a result of this war.
  • 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. 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.[8] Due to Indian military advances and increasing foreign diplomatic pressure, Pakistan was forced to withdraw its forces back across the LoC.[9]

Other conflicts

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.


  1. ^ Khan, Yasmin. The great Partition: the making of India and Pakistan. 2007, Yale University Press. ISBN 0300120788, 9780300120783. Page 12
  2. ^ Ambedkar, Bhimrao Ramji. Pakistan, or Partition of India, Second Edition. 1946, Thacker, page 5
  3. ^ Dixit, Jyotindra Nath. India-Pakistan in War & Peace. 2002, Routledge. ISBN 0415304725, 9780415304726. page 13
  4. ^ Khan 2007: 6
  5. ^ Khan 2007: 8
  6. ^ Christophe Jaffrelot, Gillian Beaumont. A History of Pakistan and Its Origins. Anthem Press, 2004. ISBN 1843311496, 9781843311492. 
  7. ^ Leonard, Thomas. Encyclopedia of the developing world. Taylor & Francis, 2006. ISBN 0415976626, 9780415976626. 
  8. ^ Fortna, Virginia. Peace time: cease-fire agreements and the durability of peace. Princeton University Press, 2004. ISBN 0691115125, 9780691115122. 
  9. ^ Lyon, Peter. Conflict Between India and Pakistan: An Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO, 2008. ISBN 1576077128, 9781576077122. 

See also


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.



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