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Mainstream, VOL LIII No 29 New Delhi July 11, 2015

Indo-Pak CBMs: A Crying Need of the Hour

Saturday 11 July 2015

by Duryodhan Nahak

In modern times, the term confidence building measures (CBMs), assumes significance in the study of international politics. In a conflict-ridden world with growing discontent against the use of lethal, chemical and nuclear weapons, the CBMs seem to be only alternative in the hands of sovereign nation-states in general and India and Pakistan in particular through which peace and stability can be achieved in the world. Despite the history of protracted conflict and bitter rivalry between India and Pakistan in which the CBM process suffered most, especially in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008, the same India and Pakistan have agreed upon and signed myriad CBMs since independence. In fact, the Indus Water Treaty of 1960, acceptance of the Rann of Kutch tribunal award in 1966, the Salal dam agreement in 1978, no-attack agreement on each other’s nuclear installations and facilities in 1988 are some of the early efforts heralded by the two arch rivals. Even just before the Mumbai terror attack, they had initiated a number of steps to improve their relationship through communi-cation links. For that matter, both the countries launched bus and train services. Also, sports was being used as a means of diplomacy to break the barriers between the two nations. Even in the annals of history, it has been found that the CBMs were put to use as weapons by the kings and princes throughout the modern civilisation, but formally the usage of the term attracted scholarly attention and became a handy tool for initiating the process of conflict management and conflict resolution between the nation-states particularly since the signing of the Helsinki Final Accord in August 1975.

The Webster’s Dictionary (1971) defines confidence as ‘an assurance of mind of firm belief in the trustworthiness of another or in the truth and reality of fact’. The authorities of this newly emerging concept have preferred to use various words for the term CBM interchan-geably. In several conflict-ridden situations in the world, scholars have preferred to use words like “confidence and security building measures” (CSBMs), “community building measures”, “mutual reassurance measures” (MRMs), “peace building measures”, “conflict avoidance measures” so on and so forth. However, the usage of terminology differs from author to author, but undoubtedly the objective of the whole idea is to justify the confidence- building process among adversarial sovereign nation-states and bring back peace and stability in the world. Briefly, confidence-building measures are the combination of three different words, implying any agreement, any development, any treaty that helps in generating confidence between two or more groups, or states; this can be termed as a CBM.

 Meanwhile, here it is worthwhile to mention that besides military and political problems, two-third nation-states are suffering from acute socio-economic problems and most of the people’s income just remains within $ 1-2 a day. Further, most of the states are also not performing very well in indicators of human development index (HDI). Regrettably, in the Human Development Report 2014, the two largest nations in the South Asian region, India and Pakistan have been put at dismal positions of 135 and 146, whereas their South Asian smaller neighbours like Sri Lanka and Maldives have been placed better in the HDI rank, at 73 and 103 respectively. There is no doubt the world has made substantial progress in various fields including science and information technology; still, in India and Pakistan, a large number of people are vulnerable to socio-economic insecurity. While lack of proper physical infra-structure, employment guarantee to large numbers of youth, inadequate health facilities, lack of proper arrangement for executing compulsory and free elementary education in primary schools, and arresting the problem of child-labour, non-availability of insurance for the destitute and old-aged persons are some of the real socio-economic challenges for them to be tackled, on the contrary, they are busy in producing and acquiring nuclear weapons which pose serious challenges to the very existence of human civilisation.

In this context, it is to be noted that the CBMs have served as tension-reduction measures in the Indo-Pak case many a time in the past. One such example is the Indus Water Treaty of 1960, it has been working successfully in spite of the very tense and conflictual situations they have faced over the years. This treaty was signed on September 19, 1960 by Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru and Pakistani Premier Ayub Khan. According to Article I of the Ttreaty, India has exclusive rights over the waters of three eastern rivers Sutlej, Beas and Ravi. Similarly, Article II gives full right to Pakistan for the use of three western rivers Jhelum, Chenab and Indus. The treaty has been fully implemented and is working to the satisfaction of both sides. However, it is accused by some Pakistani scholars that in the case of any eventuality, the Treaty might be scrapped. In spite of this apprehension among the Pakistani intelligentsia and academia, the Indus Water Treaty has been in operation despite the wars of 1965, 1971, in the aftermath of the Parliament attack in 2001 and the gruesome terror attack on Mumbai in 2008. A notable agreement in the field of military confidence-building is the No attack Agreement on each other’s nuclear installations and facilities of 1988 And consequently, that came into force on January 1, 1992. According to this agreement, they are exchanging the lists of their nuclear establishments on January 1 every year. Here it can be mentioned that also in the war-like situation after the attack on Indian Parliament in 2001, they have exchanged the lists of nuclear installations sincerely and adhered to the rules of the agreement. Besides this, prevention of each other’s airspace violation in 1991, and prohibition of chemical weapons in 1992 are some of the military CBMs existing between them.

The composite dialogue, which was re-initiated from February 2004, saw both India and Pakistan discussing Kashmir, nuclear confidence-building measures, Siachen, Tulbul navigation/Wular Barrage, Sir Creek, terrorism and drug trafficking, trade and commercial contact, people-people contact, friendly exchanges in various fields. Under this framework, in October 2005, India and Pakistan reached an agreement that requires either party to inform the other 72 hours in advance before testing ballistic missiles within a 40-km radius of the Line of Control. In the same meeting, India also handed over a Memorandum of Under-standing on lessening the use of unauthorised nuclear weapons. The agreement was finally signed in February 2007. In addition to the already existing hotlines at the level of Prime Ministers and Director Generals of Military Operations, a hotline was established between Foreign Secretaries of both the countries. In order to bring the peoples of the two countries closer to each other, the bus service was resumed between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad in 2005. Later, the holy places of India and Pakistan were linked through different means of communication, especially by bus and train. For quicker communication, the weekly air service was also doubled. In the severe earthquake in South Asia in which Pakistan was most affected, India opened five points on the Line of Control to facilitate the meetings between the near and dear ones who had been separated from each other for years. Cricket, which is regarded as a powerful means of track-II diplomacy was played regularly from 2004 to 2008.

Despite this silver-lining, the whole gamut of the CBM process came to a standstill after the dastardly terror attack in Mumbai on November 26, 2008. Of course, the leadership of both the countries expressed their willingness to start the dialogue in different regional and international forums many a time since November 2008, but no breakthrough was achieved. Nonetheless, on the invitation of the Indian Prime Minister, his Pakistani counter- part visited India to watch the World Cup semi-final cricket match in March 2011, but the adamant stand of Pakistan and non-cooperation in capturing the Mumbai culprits worsened the situation further. Again the alleged killing of an Indian prisoner in a Pakistani jail, aiding and abating terrorists in Kashmir by Pakistan continuously, regular ceasefire violations, targeting Indian armed forces and civilians etc. are perhaps some stumbling blocks under-mining the Indo-Pak CBM process.

In conclusion one can say that even though there are a number of issues that remain unresolved between India and Pakistan, the dialogue process should be resumed in the given political circumstances with the presence of nuclear deterrence in South Asia. Although the political relations between the hawks on both sides became tense towards the end of the UPA rule, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had visited India to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Narendra Modi in May 2014 at the invitation of the Prime Minister-designate. It is to be underscored here that despite the eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation between China and India in 1962, they have undertaken an eventful journey by making substantial progress on the economic front. Remarkably, trade between them has crossed hundred billion dollars, in spite of the unresolved traditional territorial dispute. Again peace has returned in Europe, that once was a hot-bed of Cold War politics of the two superpowers, the USA and USSR. Given the commonality of culture, interdependence of interest, geogra-phical proximity between the two countries, India and Pakistan can focus on settling economic and social problems with utmost priority, while continuing dialogue on all other sensitive issues including Kashmir. Indeed stress on the Indo-Pak CBM process can help in reducing the trust deficit and would prove to be a weapon of peace in generating a congenial climate in the subcontinent and help in settling the conventional boundary and military disputes.

Dr Duryodhan Nahak is an Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, PGDAV College, University of Delhi.