India-Pakistan Wars, name given to the series of conflicts between India and Pakistan since 1947, when the Indian subcontinent was partitioned and the two countries became independent of Great Britain. The most violent outbreaks came in 1947–48, 1965, and 1971. The roots of the conflicts lie in the hostility between Hindus and Muslims and, initially, in the disposition of self-governing princely states.
The 1947–48 War
The first war arose over Kashmir, in NW India, in 1947 when Muslim subjects revolted and were supported by Pakistani troops. The Hindu ruler appealed to India for aid, agreeing to cede the state to India in return. India moved quickly to consolidate its position in Kashmir, pushing Pakistan's "volunteers" back. Conflicts also arose in the Punjab and in Bengal. The undeclared war in Kashmir continued until Jan. 1, 1949, when a truce was arranged through UN mediation; negotiations between India and Pakistan began and lasted until 1954 without resolving the Kashmir problem. Pakistan controlled part of the area, Azad (Free) Kashmir, while India held most of the territory, which it annexed in 1957.
The 1965 War
The second war began in Apr., 1965, when fighting broke out in the Rann of Kachchh, a sparsely inhabited region along the West Pakistan–India border. In August fighting spread to Kashmir and to the Punjab, and in September Pakistani and Indian troops crossed the partition line between the two countries and launched air assaults on each other's cities. After threats of intervention by China had been successfully opposed by the United States and Britain, Pakistan and India agreed to a UN-sponsored cease-fire and withdrew to the pre-August lines. Prime Minister Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri of India and President Ayub Khan of Pakistan met in Tashkent, USSR (now in Uzbekistan), in Jan., 1966, and signed an agreement pledging continued negotiations and respect for the cease-fire conditions. After the Tashkent Declaration another period of relative peace ensued.
The 1971 War
Indo-Pakistani relations deteriorated when civil war erupted in Pakistan, pitting the West Pakistan army against East Pakistanis demanding greater autonomy. The fighting forced 10 million East Pakistani Bengalis to flee to India. When Pakistan attacked Indian airfields in Kashmir, India attacked both East and West Pakistan. It occupied the eastern half, which declared its independence as Bangladesh, on Dec. 6, 1971. Under great-power pressure, a UN cease-fire was arranged in mid-December, after Pakistan's defeat. Pakistan lost its eastern half, an army of 100,000 soldiers, and was thrown into political turmoil. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto emerged as leader of Pakistan, and Mujibur Rahman as prime minister of Bangladesh. Tensions were alleviated by the Shimla accord of 1972, and by Pakistan's recognition of Bangladesh in 1974, but tensions have periodically recurred.
See A. Lamb, Crisis in Kashmir, 1947–1966 (1966); W. N. Brown, The United States and India, Pakistan, Bangladesh (1972); S. Ganguly, The Origins of War in South Asia (1986); R. Sisson, War and Secession (1990).