Confidence Building Measures: A tool for India-Pakistan Peace


Authors: Areeja Syed and Asfandiyar Khan

Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.”– Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Indo-Pak disputes are still unsettled originated by the British exit from the region in 1947. Both states had been trying to conciliate since the independence but the conciliation process could not become successful and resulted in three wars between both countries. India conducted its nuclear tests on May11-13 and Pakistan on May 28-10. Thus, both countries achieved the status of atomic power. The dark shadows of horrible nuclear war are looming over the South Asian region. It is imperative for the belligerent states to carry out negotiation process. The major hindrance is the unwillingness from both sides to resolve the issue. That’s why; there is no major development in the normalization process between both countries. Not only the governments of India and Pakistan but also the general lot needs to remove grudges against each other and develop amity instead of hatred. There are several differences between both nations which intensified hostility including political theories, creeds, and religious beliefs, bitter experiences before, during and after the independence, distorted history and twisted facts about each other. Islam and Hindu religion present opposite theories regarding the universe, God, prophets etc. In this context, the believers of both faiths have different outlook and perspective about every matter. Though they had been living together for above one thousand years yet their conservativeness could not be diminished even. The root cause of these clashes is the abrupt departure of the British from South Asia without proper management and fair partition process. The worst decisions of the British gave the impression that after ruling and dividing the masses, they planned to divide and flee from the region. The major bone of contention, Kashmir conflict, is also the result of this ill planning and division. The other conflicts were water and river distribution, division of armed forces, distribution of official material, treasury and money, real estate problems, accommodation of displaced people, immigrants and refugees and merging of autonomous states. These issues simply heightened the tensions between both countries (Muhammad & Ashraf, 2007).

Confidence Building Measures or CBMs refer to those policies and deals which are conducted by the state to gain mutual profit having trust on all involved parties. These deals can be via hotline, through business and trade, person to person contact or exchange of military and non-military information and exercises. This process enhances goodwill and peace between nations, eventually minimizing animosity and clashes among them. These measures create trustworthy relations between the nations and contribute to the progress of the countries in various fields. To achieve stability and peace in the region, the negotiation process should be continued to resolve mutual conflicts. The South Asian countries should implement CBMs in its true sense as the nuclear tests in May 1998 by Pakistan and India have augmented the prospects of a nuclear war in the region. On account of this, it is essential to settle rivalries, adopt confidence building measures and develop mutual understanding and collaboration with each other. Moreover, diplomatic and economic ties among South Asian countries should be strengthen to continue the procedure of CBMs smoothly. Previously, Islamabad and Delhi signed many deals and pacts to promote mutual cooperation and settle disputes. They established SAARC, to enhance collaboration among the countries of the region and it proved effective to some extent. To obtain fruitful results of CBMs, sincere efforts are required even if it is replacing the previous CBMs. The experts should evaluate the results of previous and existing CBMs, the effective and ineffective steps, reasons of success and failure, the different procedures followed by the other states and plan CBMs in the light of this evaluation. It is also beneficial for other organizations, private institutions, societal communities and groups, business and commerce, research and technical institutes etc. To figure out the achievements of CBMs and for the implementation of new CBMs, evaluate the previous and recent progress, made by the other countries in this regard (Irshad, n.d).

CBMs are also effective to promote international co-operation and influence and also reduce hostilities between nations. It can contribute to the development of trust which is the essential element before and during this process. It is not easy to streamline CBMs but relinquishment is feasible. The belligerent states should comply by it justly and fairly and do not sabotage the process especially during severe clashes. Reliability and credence is required form both sides. They should work peacefully when the clashes are settled. The situation becomes worse when the bellicose countries do not follow CBMs during conflicts. Compliance with CBMs during peace and agitation is equally significant. India and Pakistan could not implement CBMs effectively due to their reluctant and hostile attitude and lack of trust. In this context, it is easy to sabotage this process instead of abiding by it. The process of confirmation is necessary in CBMs to avoid any misconception or clashes between the parties. Lack of trust and disinformation can harm the process. The government officials utilize CBMs to gain some political goals or to get victory over political rivals but this can prove destructive in the end. Official declarations for CBMs sometimes produce negative impact if they prove to be lip services. If there are flaws in the designing of them, it can also become ineffective as it happened after the Sharm-el-Sheikh conference due to an official assertion. To maintain peace and congenial relations with the rival countries, strict compliance with the CBMs is required especially during clashes, the hostile parties should not give any contradictory statement and exhibit polite and positive attitude. The bilateral relations and negotiation process should be carried out without any interruption. The rival states must realize that the Kashmir dispute cannot be resolved by using military power. Some other CBMs should be drafted regarding Kashmir issue e.g. commencement of inter-state talks to decide the final status of Kashmir valley. The controversial issues as referendum in Kashmir and or liberation procedure should be settled after sensible and careful planning. The procedure to diminish animosity should be escalated and Kashmir issue should not be used to gain political objectives by both sides. The controversial statements and campaigns on mass media and on social media platforms against each other should be abolished. Process of minimizing armed and nuclear weapons should be carried out to reduce hostility. The media persons, delegates of human rights foundations and military representatives should be invited off and on, by the government officials (U.K essays, 2018).

Areeja Syed
Areeja Syed
Author is pursuing MPhil in International Relations from COMSATS University Islamabad. Her area of research focuses on International Security, Strategic issues and Public Diplomacy.