India and Pakistan’s cold war

india-pakistanwarThe Los Angeles Times reported Sunday that Pakistan had admitted to India that the terrorists who laid siege to Mumbai last November, killing 166, had been members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a radical Muslim groups formed two decades ago to fight Indian rule in the Kashmir region.

The Mumbai terror attacks were rife with religious depth, much of which went unexplored, and Pakistan’s mea culpa for letting a group of extremists from within its borders terrorize a neighbor was met with optimism. Maybe, the Times reported, this could help thaw the icy relations between India and Pakistan:

Meeting in Sharm el Sheik last week on the sidelines of a summit, Pakistani Prime Minister Yusaf Raza Gillani met with his Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh, and pledged to resume dialogue between the two countries, a significant step toward reconciliation.

At a news conference in Islamabad on Saturday evening, Gillani said his talks with Singh were a good first step, but added that it would take time to chip away at the deep mistrust built up between the two nations for decades.

“Dialogue is not the problem. A trust deficit, that’s the problem,” Gillani said. “But with more interaction, that will be taken care of.”

Relations between India and Pakistan, nuclear-armed countries that historically have regarded each other as archenemies, froze in the wake of the attacks, as New Delhi accused Islamabad of dragging its feet in tracking down Lashkar-e-Taiba members involved in the rampage.

Lashkar-e-Taiba was formed about 20 years ago to fight Indian rule in the Himalayan region of Kashmir. It was founded by firebrand Islamic cleric Hafiz Saeed with what many say was support from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency. A Pakistani court freed Saeed from house arrest last month, angering Indian leaders.

But missing from this relatively short article, about 20 column inches appearing on A22, was an explanation of why India and Pakistan have been locked in their own cold war since the Indian subcontinent was partitioned. I suspect that was a result of space constraints, but the omission causes a bit of a religion ghost to appear.

Like in Palestine later in 1947, Britain, no longer strong enough to support an empire, decided to abandon its Indian colony. Instead of a bloody war between Arabs and Jews, the consequence on this occasion was an even bloodier war between Muslims and Hindus.

This is why a deep mistrust remains between India and Pakistan. (It’s not all a cricket rivalry.) And if we’ve learned anything from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict it’s that diplomatic maneuverings are not enough to quell rooted, and often religiously inspired, hatred of the other.

It would seem, then, that any discussion of lasting peace between India and Pakistan needs to address what Hindus in India grow up believing about Muslims and what Muslims in Pakistan are taught about Hindus. It would also be worthwhile to explore how about 156 million Muslims live peacefully in India, and some quite successfully.

A Life magazine cover from the U.S. State Department Office of the Historian.

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  • amit

    First of all you have not done research properly.There are around 200 million Muslims in India and not 1.2 million.Second thing what you have to say about war between Islam and Christianity,which is prob the most ugliest religious clashes History has ever seen.

  • Brad A. Greenberg

    Thanks for catching that typo. The number is actually closer to 156 million.

  • Raj

    Brad, there are serious mistaken assumptions in your article. Indian state, consittuition are secular.

    The conflict between India and Pakistan is an ideological one, not a territorial dispute or a religious dispute. Let me clarify they are out to prove Hindus and Muslims cannot be one country, and they say so openly. Paks think Indian Muslims have to be taken care of by them, an idea increasingly resented by Indian Muslims.

    FIRST, Pakistan army has not decided to stop using terrorism as an instrument of state policy.

    Some reasons there is some appearance of co-operation from Pakistan are— (1) single Pakistani was caught alive in Mumbai and spilled beans, (2) dire internal security, economic problems and (3) intense international scrutiny.

    SECOND, “ Pakistan ” is an ideological state defined in terms of anti-India, out to prove the idea of India is wrong. We don’t have such issues with them if they live peacefully with the land they got.

    Here is an analysis of what is taught in Pakistani schools in Urudu , Pakistan studies classes.

    We don’t have India studies, or Hindusim studies in indian schools and colleges!! I don’t know how many Indians know …students are required to take “ Pakistan studies” at technical and medical colleges!!

    Here is a link to the curriculum of Rawalpindi Medical College :


    India left partition behind in 1947, Pakistan hasn’t. They never kept their side of bargain. Thier founder Jinnah claimed (EMPTY WORDS), Pakistan would be a muslim majority tolerant state, we know it is anything but tolerant. Gen Musharaff talked about Gujarat riots at the United Nations in 2002. Where does this fit with the nonsensical claim of Kashmir as the core dispute? And where are the Pakistani Hindus? eXTERMINATED FROM 23% OF POPULATION TO LESS THAN <2% LIVING IN THE FRINGES IN PAKISTAN.

    The people who drive Pakistan (Army, ISI, Punjabi elite) view themselves as the inheritor of the Islamic Empire in the sub-continent and India is the Hindu country where muslims are enslaved. Thus nothing will placate their implacable hostility. Each and every single war 1948, 65, 71, 99 and the near wars of 2002, 2008 were all started by Pakistan because the curriculum above produces a militant, warrior society.

    It is a serious misreading to claim Pakistan army is the root of the problems. P.A is merely a reflection of its society.

  • Julia


    I’m curious. Do they think they didn’t get the good land? Or what is the problem with the division of land?

  • Raj


    Julia, you have asked the million dollar question! very smart.

    The short answer is no.

    See, the British dismissed the very idea of India as one country and ridiculed the concept. They thought the dirt poor Hindus are so diverse, with their language and other divisions, cannot stay together.

    Pakistan founder led the separatist movement based on the supremacist idea, that identity based on religion forms a more solid foundation for Pakistani nationhood. The problem is Muslims live in the length and breadth of Indian Subcontinent, currently muslims are divided 1/3rd each in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

    The idea was based on exclusivism and hatred. After separating people based on religion, he claimed Pakistan will be a secular country. This contradiction is the root cause of Pakistan’s existential problems.

    Not only that the British and “Pakistani” ideologues believed Pakistan will be the stronger country militarily and economically. Alas, things haven’t turned out the way they fantasized.

    This is the idea behind attacking India’s commercial capitol Bombay repeatedly, hoping to undermine India’s economy. A couple of years ago they attacked Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, smaller scale attack that flopped.

    In other words, typical loser mentality. Don’t work hard, don’T focus on education and don’t build a country, but attack your neighbour out of Freudian “you know what” envy.

  • yousuf gabriel

    By Allama Muhammad Yousuf Gabriel
    Not all the people of India will be in favour of nuclear armaments, there are millions opposed to it. General Duhra is an appreciably conspicuous example. Yet they are called as doves. Their misfortune is that the hawks will have the sway, and ultimately when the brave hawks will be roasted alive in the nuclear fire, the poor, soft-hearted doves will experience the same fate. Let it be remembered that a nuclear fight between the nuclear India and nuclear Pakistan meant the total destruction of both.
    Allama Muhammad Yousuf Gabriel
    Adara Afqar e Gabriel QA St.Nawababad Wah Cantt Distt Rawalpindi Pakistan

  • Raj

    @ Allam XXXXX,

    And what is that supposed to mean?

    This is how it works or supposed to worked in the mind of Paks.

    (1) India (doves and hawks included) should yield to the terroritorial or other demands of “Pakistan”.

    (2) India cannot and should not respond to the jihadi tterror war of “Pakistan” on the unarmed civilians of India because if it did there will be nuclear war.

    How is that strategy working for you?