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Worldwide Locations

India-Pakistan Relations: A 50-Year History



India in the 1990s: the Moratorium Ends
Although Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi reversed his mother's policy of nuclear development, when a new prime minister Narasimha Rao assumed power in 1991, India resumed its plans for nuclear development and in December, 1995, Rao was ready to authorize a nuclear test--only to be discovered by CIA spy satellite and discouraged by President Clinton from going forward with the tests. With the election of the Hindu Nationalist, Bharata Janata Party in 1998, Prime Minister Atal Vajpayee ordered Indian scientists to proceed with plans for testing as soon as possible. This lead to the series of detonations in May, and the subsequent quick response by Pakistan.

Foreign Policy Relations
The United States has treaties which provide nuclear umbrella to Japan and NATO nations. At present, the United States has cordial relations with China. American policy is worked out in tension between those who insist on expanded human rights in China, and those who favor opening markets and investments in China and downplaying human rights issues. The United States was closely allied with Pakistan until end of Cold War. Pakistan provided bases for U-2 flights and conduit for arms to Afghanistan rebels. The United States provided most of Pakistani military aid from 1954 to the 1980s. China is now the major military supplier to Pakistan. The United States has maintained cool relations with India because of its refusal to join the west during the Cold War, its pursuit of a non-alignment foreign policy and for its tight controls on American investment and business enterprise in India.

China is the premier military power in Asia and considers Pakistan its oldest and most powerful Asian ally. China continues to occupy areas inside of India's borders as a result of the Indo-China war of 1962. China has nuclear-armed missiles positioned against India along the Himalayan border and in Tibet, in addition to being Pakistan’s main military weapons provider.

Russia has had close relations with India since Indira Gandhi became prime minister in 1966. Russia provides most of India's military sales. After the demise of the Soviet Empire, Russia is unable to provide economic or military aid to India.

India has pursued a policy of non-alignment with Soviet Union and United States since its independence. India's planned economy was not open to U.S. investment until change of policy toward free market in 1991. India would not accept American military aid or join alliances, thus alienating U.S. leaders and majority of Americans. Under President Kennedy, the United States supported India in its war with China. Under Nixon, the United States supported Pakistan in 1971 in the war that led to creation of Bangladesh (the former East Pakistan). America sent a nuclear-armed aircraft carrier to Bay of Bengal, which helped motivate India to go nuclear. Now that Russia is weak, India feels isolated and alone in world community. India has felt that the United States has also been hostile to India and that we now are promoting China as the major power in all of Asia. Pakistani testing of Gauri missile on April 6th, 1998 was a major factor in India's decision to undertake nuclear testing. India will suffer from the end of economic aid, but its leaders have calculated that that the nation can survive the sanctions.

Pakistan relied on its close alliance with the United States from 1954 through the 1980s. During the 1990s, leaders looked more to China for support and military technology and hardware; China is currently a major supplier of these components to Pakistan. The Pakistani foreign minister traveled to China for consultations ten days before Pakistan conducted nuclear tests. Pakistan will suffer far more than India as a result of economic sanctions by world community. Loss of aid will result in undermining of currency, great increase in debt and increase in poverty.