Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) between Pakistan and India – A Brief History

In conflict resolution, Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) play a crucial role between the states. CBMs help create a conducive environment for resolution of conflictual issues. They, however, are not direct means of conflict resolution. The efficacy of CBMs is not limited to a rival state’s military affairs but it encompasses a broad range of areas […]

In conflict resolution, Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) play a crucial role between the states. CBMs help create a conducive environment for resolution of conflictual issues. They, however, are not direct means of conflict resolution. The efficacy of CBMs is not limited to a rival state’s military affairs but it encompasses a broad range of areas ranging from social to cultural contacts to economic affairs between the states. They are a tool to augment the level of confidence and trust between the rival states (Zulfqar, 2013). In the modern day world, CBMs are a broadly acknowledged concept which includes an extensive variety of measures including economic, political and military arenas.  According to the commonly held belief, CBMs initiated during 1970s in Europe in backdrop of confrontations between the West and the East. However, the process of CBMs was already in practice in various different parts of the world but it was not characterized necessarily as such.

For example, CBMs were practiced in the South Asian region since the partition of the Indian sub-continent. The cases in point can be traced from 1949 with the Karachi Agreement in 1949, the pact between Liaquat and Nehru in 1950 known as Liaquat-Nehru Pact, the Indo-Pak Border Ground Rules Agreement in 1960, the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) in 1960 which is said to have remained intact even during wars, the Tashkent Declaration in 1966 which was signed under the good office provided by the USSR and the Simla Agreement in 1972 (Salik, 2010). Zulfqar (2013) adds to this and argues that CBMs are not a new phenomenon between India and Pakistan. Pakistan and India signed various agreements between them to resolve their bilateral problems which they inherited from the partition. She quotes all the events as quoted by Salik (2010) and adds the Rann of Kutch Agreement of 1966 to the list of CBMs between India and Pakistan. She further argues that the terminology of CBMs was not applied to the agreements between the two before Brasstracks Crisis in 1987 which added nuclear dimension in the relationship between India and Pakistan (Zulfqar, 2013).

Confidence Building Measures between Pakistan and India

There are different types of CBMs between the two arch-rival neighboring countries – India and Pakistan. These CBMs can be differentiated in atmospheric and military and nuclear related CBMs.

The Military and Nuclear Related CBMs

According to Micheal Krepon, Co-founder of Stimson Center, the military and nuclear related CBMs between India and Pakistan can be differentiated in three categories: Constraint Measures, Communication Measures and Transparency Measures (Zulfar, 2013).

1. Constraint Measures:

The Constraint Measures may encompass: routine inspection to show compliance with agreements, establishment of demilitarized zones between states and abstaining from military activities (more of skirmishes) in bordering areas between the states. In order to establish a nuclear restraint regime with its neighboring rival India, Pakistan has been putting efforts in this context even before the overt nuclearization of both countries. Pakistan has proposed various proposals over the years including mutual acceptance of safeguards by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), signing of Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) of 1967 simultaneously, creation of nuclear weapon free zone, signing of regional test ban treaty, bilateral inspection of each other’s nuclear facilities and joint declaration to renounce development of nuclear weapons. However, none of these proposals could succeed to get India’s affirmation. Moreover, in 1998, Pakistan proposed establishment of a Strategic Restraint Regime in the region to avoid the risk of nuclear war between the two nuclear powers. It was renewed in 2001 during disarmament conference in Geneva. Like previous proposals, this could also not materialize.

2. Communication Measures:

Communication measures would include creating communication among political decision-makers of the states in conflict and the establishment of hotlines is the most effective arrangement for conflict resolution or crisis management purposes. In 1971, hotline between the Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs) of Pakistan and India was established and it was decided after the 1990 crisis that the hotline will be used on weekly basis between the DGMOs of both the countries. Besides this, a new hotline was created between the foreign secretaries of Pakistan and India in 2004. It has been observed that hotlines between the two countries remain satisfactorily functional only during the peacetime but during crisis they remain dysfunctional. However, it remained functional during Kargil Conflict in 1999 and the border confrontation in 2001-02 and it remained dysfunctional during Brasstracks in 1988.

3. Transparency Measures:

Transparency measures encompass presence of foreign observers at military exercises, strength of armed forces, arms transfers and arms production, exchange information of military expenditures, verification measures and prior notification of military maneuvers encompassing their extent and scope. In 1988, an agreement was signed between India and Pakistan on prohibition of attack on nuclear facilities and installations. The agreement was ratified in 1991 and in the following year it was implemented. Irrespective of their state relationship, both states would exchange lists of their nuclear facilities and installations. In addition to this, two agreements were signed in 1991 and 1992 which included firstly, advance notice of troops movements, military maneuvers and exercises and secondly, permitting landing of military aircraft, permitting over flight and prevention of space violations.

Atmospheric CBMs

According to Micheal Krepon, atmospheric CBMs are useful in indicating readiness to relations after a severe crisis. They are informal in nature and do not include complex implementation procedures unlike military and nuclear CBMs which require political capital investment by the national leaders of the states. These CBMs can be reciprocal and unilateral. Some examples of atmospheric CBMs will be people to people contacts, humanitarian assistance during natural disasters, cultural exchanges and release of fisherman or political prisoners. Atmospheric CBMs between India and Pakistan were practised during SAARC Summit-2004 in which both countries reached to Composite Dialogue which included discussion of eight areas including Kashmir, Nuclear CBMs, Siachen issue, Terrorism, Sir Creek et cetra. After this composite dialogue sports links were resorted, bus and train services were started and people to people contacts were initiated. Additionally, in 2007, some progress was also made on Nuclear CBMs which agreed to reduce accident risks related to nuclear weapons. An initiative was also taken on antiterrorism institutional mechanism fronts.  

Other than these two categories of CBMS, there are also economic CBMs between India and Pakistan.

Economic CBMs

A new category dealing with investment and trade, economic CBMs have been introduced between Pakistan and India. The prospects of having good economic relations with India have been discussed in Pakistan since the year 2012. A number of CBMs have been initiated over the years beginning with the granting of Most Favoured Nation (MFN) to India (yet not granted), easing non-tariff barriers and opening investment doors and increasing customs cooperation between the two countries. However, India granted Pakistan MFN status in 1996 but it withdrew it in February, 2019 after the Pulwama Attack in Indian Occupied Kashmir.

The Confidence building Measures (CBMs) initiatives between India and Pakistan

The CBMs initiatives between India and Pakistan include pacts, ceasefire agreements, efforts and initiatives, joint commissions and statements, Dialogues and Composite Dialogues (Effendi & Choudhry, 2016).

There have been two ceasefire agreements between India and Pakistan. The first one was of 1949 and the second one took place in 2003. Some of the pacts between India and Pakistan include Liaquat-Nehru Pact of 1950 which was signed to protect rights of migrated minorities  in both countries, Indus Water Treaty (IWT) 1960 to share river waters between the countries, Tashkent Declaration 1965 which was signed to concluded 17-day war, Simla Agreement 1972 signed for the settlement of post-fall of Dacca situation. Hotline between DGMOs was also part of this agreement. Some of the Joint Commissions and Statements include 1982 joint commission which was established to strengthen bilateral relations, joint statement on nuclear issues in 2004, joint statements on drug trafficking, economic cooperation and terrorism in 2004, Delhi joint statement in 2005, 2005 joint statement to start bus service from Amritsar India to Nankana Sahib in Pakistan. Some of the initiatives and efforts encompass 1959 offer by Ayub for Joint Defence against the threat from North i.e. China in wake of 1959 Tibet insurrection by China which Nehru rejected, peace plan of 1964 which could not be materialized because of Nehru’s death in 1964, 1976 Smajhota bus Service between Lahore and Amritsar, 1981 no-war pact offered by Pakistan but it was rejected by India because Simla agreement was already a no war pact. There have also been many other efforts and initiatives between India and Pakistan (Zulfqar, 2013; Effendi & Choudhry, 2016).

Despite all these Confidence building measures between India and Pakistan, the relations between the two are far from normalization. Both India and Pakistan have to come together for the regional stability as well as prosperity. The issue of Kashmir is a long awaited dispute between the two which should be resolved as per the UN resolution of 1948 which declared that the future of Kashmir would be decided by the people of Kashmir through free and fair plebiscite. Therefore, India and Pakistan have to take steps to resolve this long awaited dispute. They have to come together for a better future of people of the region as war breads hatred and seeds of hatred ruin the generations.