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MILITARY, Non-Military CBMs Between India-Pakistan

CBMs are not a substitute for progress on dispute resolution and cannot thrive until efforts are made by both sides to improve relations.

Year 2011 At A Glance
Wednesday, February 01, 2012


Confidence building measures (CBMs) are as old as conflict itself. They provide a measure of reassurance to belligerents so as to prevent conflict from breaking out. And in the process, allow time and space for the initiation of talks, to resolve differences. In some cases the momentum is driven by internal forces seeking change, and in other cases propelled by external actors who for reasons of their own do not wish to see conflict breaking out.

Modern CBMs in the international context are associated with the cold war setting and are often cited as the basis for implementation within the India-Pakistan context. While many lessons can be learnt from that experience, the India-Pakistan confrontation has a dimension that merits address in its own way. The nuclear status of the two countries introduces an altogether different dynamic to any earlier equation.

CBMs in the cold war confrontation managed to achieve some benefits. Because,  firstly, there was much interaction between various actors on both sides which even if it did not always lead to solutions or agreements, afforded opportunities for understanding one another's points of view and quite often revealed convergence of positions. Secondly, there was occasion for introspection and review of one's own positions, assumptions and strategic goals. And thirdly, there was an increased awareness that the other side's security was in many ways linked to one's own.

Military CBMs
    Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack against Nuclear Installations and Facilities – signed in 1998.
    Agreement on Advance Notification on Military Exercises, Maneuvers and Troop Movements –brought into effect in 1991.
    Formal ceasefire along the international border as also the actual ground position brought into effect at midnight of November 25, 2003.
    Biannual meetings between Indian Border Security Force and Pakistani Rangers has been in effect since 2004.
Modern CBMs in the international context are associated with the cold war setting and are often cited as the basis for implementation within the India-Pakistan context.
Agreement on Advance Notification of Ballistic Missile Tests – brought into effect in 2005 and required both parties to inform the other 72 hours in advance before testing any ballistic missiles within a 40km radius of the international border and the Line of Control.
    Establishment of a communication link between Pakistan Mari time Security Agency and Indian Coast Guard – brought into effect in 2005.

                A Hotline between Director General Military Operations of both countries in effect since 1965, and was most recently used in an unscheduled exchange to discuss troop movements and allay tensions, in the aftermath of the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai.


Non-military CBMs

                The predominant confidence-building measures in the non-military domain have been travel measures to increase people-to-people interaction.

                Delhi-Lahore bus service was started in 1999, ceased after Kargil conflict and resumed in 2003.

                Passenger and freight rail services between Attari and Lahore, and air linkages between the two countries were resumed in 2004.

                The Samjhauta Express, which runs between Delhi and Lahore, resumed service in 2005, and despite the 2007 blasts, has continued to run since.

                The first bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarbad was started in 2005. From Lahore to Amritsar, Amritsar to Nankana Sahib and train links between Munnabao in Rajasthan and Khokhrapar in Sindh were started in 2006.

                The first overland truck route was opened at the Wagaha border in 2007.

                Air links were increased from 12 to 28 flights weekly, triple-entry permit for cross-LoC travel introduced and the frequency of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service increased from fortnightly to weekly, in 2008. Trade routes on the Wagaha-Atari, Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalkot road links, as also the Munnabao-Khokhrapar rail link were also opened up the same year.

                Humanitarian aid in terms of food, medicine and the akin to extend by India and accepted by Pakistan, in the aftermath of the earthquake in Pakistan in 2005.

                An agreement facilitating regular contact between state-run think tanks, Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (New Delhi), and Institute of Strategic Studies (Islamabad) was brought into being in 2008.

                Government representatives of both countries have continued to meet over the years, despite troubling circumstances.

 By looking above measures Military and Non–military CBMs taken by both states following commendation can be functional:


                The composite dialogue process should be restarted.

                Regular meetings between local commanders of the BSF and the Rangers would help resolve matters concerning infiltration, particularly with regard to the ceasefire violations.

                In consultation with Kashmiri stakeholders, additional CBMs need to be identified and active Kashmiri participation be ensured in the dialogue process.


                The agreement proscribing attacks on each others' nuclear facilities should be extended to identified populations and economic targets.

                The agreement requiring notification on military exercises et al should be extended to associating military observers with major field exercises.

                Civil society and track II initiatives should be taken into active consideration.


                The redeployment of troops from the region has been debated by both governments and should be examined in full practicality.

                The dichotomy between the maintenance of J&K's independence via Article 370 of the Indian Constitution and the requirement to further include the state in the mainstream of Indian politics and society would need to be addressed comprehensively. While Kashmir's need to be included in the dialogue process, they also need to be made to understand the valid national security concerns of India and Pakistan.

 The reality defining this important process, in which diplomats and military officers sit together in civilised dialogue, is that CBMs are not a substitute for progress on dispute resolution and cannot thrive until efforts are made by both sides to improve relations.

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