Relations and Tensions – India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan

Introduction: The complexity of the trilateral relationship is a very interesting and hard-hitting reality to fathom. India and Pakistan became independent in 1947 whereas Afghanistan has been formed since 1709. In the recent past, it can be seen that Afghanistan has had a very troubled history dealing with terrorism and various invading forces. The Afghans are presumed to be a finer note with the Indians than the Pakistanis. They are like the center stage or a major link in this relationship. Whereas, the Indian and Pakistani relations are far from being mended. The intensity of these relationships can be seen on the military front and as the peace talks aren’t going anywhere in a positive direction, it can be safely assumed that they would stay this way.

Southeast Asia is a very strategic location if observed on the world map. If one looks closely, they can see that these three countries have a lot to worry about if one gets the better of the other. The major issue comes with the control that the countries are exercising over its borders. This issue has been there in the past and doesn’t seem to be resolved in the near future. This is a major concern for all the countries involved as terrorism becomes a direct threat to them as their borders can be breached easily. If the emphasis is laid on the Indian and Pakistani relationship, it can be easily observed that it’s a very unpredictable in nature. The “peace talks” are very irregular and don’t seem to conclude much. India has accused and even proved Pakistan of trespassing its borders which resulted in the infamous 2008 Mumbai Attacks. India has also accused Afghanistan of its not so astringent policies which are protecting its borders.

The relations between these three nations are also governed by many of the third parties. If noted, the peace dialogue between India and Pakistan was commenced by the Americans. The bilateral relationship between India and Pakistan has and will always be an issue for the greater powers in world politics. Even looking at the basic and most infamous issue in the Indo-Pak history, i.e. Kashmir, it can be made very clear that it wouldn’t just be India and Pakistan negotiating for peace. The involvement of these powers would always result in a very biased negotiation and there wouldn’t be much offered in conversation with the two nations. Till then, both countries shall keep on playing the blame game when anything bad happens on each others’ homeland.

On the other hand, if India and Afghanistan relations are observed, they come out to be very peaceful and healthy. The Indians have acknowledged their relations with Afghanistan since the 1980s, and as a matter of fact, they were the only South Asian country to do so. These relations date back to a long time and also they are based on a very mutual help based relationship.  Even when the differences between the Taliban government and the Afghan National Army broke out become the Afghan Civil War, India aided in overthrowing the Taliban and was soon recognized as the largest regional provider of humanitarian and reconstruction aid to Afghanistan. The India-Afghan connection just doesn’t end there; India also provided intelligence to Afghanistan when the United States of America decided to invade them in 2001. India has always been a constant support for Afghanistan. One could say that India shares a better relationship with Afghanistan as compared to Pakistan, which can be easily understood.

The bilateral ties between Pakistan and Afghanistan may be termed as very multifaceted. They aren’t that easy to understand, as there are way too many variables which play a part in them. There are many common things both the countries share like they’ve both termed themselves as the “Islamic Republic” and they also share various cultural and historical links. Somehow, they’ve developed their differences and these aren’t small differences, they seem to be very major differences. Afghanistan was the only country which voted against Pakistan to join the United Nations after it gained its independence. The separatist movements which have been going on in Pakistan in which Afghanistan is trying to occupy Pakistani territories haven’t helped the cause either. Millions of the Afghan refugees have sought refuge in Pakistan due to the Afghani War, increasing tensions with the Water Treaty.

India and Pakistan

Peace: A good idea nobody wants.


The 14th and the 15th of August 1947 are dates which have gone down in history to bear witness to one of the biggest rivalries on this planet, India and Pakistan. When the British pulled out of the Indian subcontinent they laid the foundation of two States, a secular India and a Muslim Pakistan. The course of these events didn’t have the best possible consequences, during this phase the world saw one of the largest human migrations ever which accounted for around 1-2 million deaths. Both countries knew that things weren’t going to be the same now.

The Disputes

The first Indo-Pak war was fought with regard to an issue which is regarded as unsolvable till date, i.e. Kashmir. Maharaja Hari Singh had asked for assistance by India as some armed tribesmen from Pakistan had invaded the disputed territory. The Maharaja had been facing an internal revolt and an external invasion, so India provided him with assistance with the deal being that he hands over all his defense, communications and foreign affairs to the Indian government. The Indian Army intervened and then the war took a very ugly turn only to be stopped on January 1, 1949. This happened as the United Nations intervened and established a ceasefire in the disputed territory and alleged that there would be a referendum on the accession of Kashmir later but that has never taken place.

There have been many instances where the ceasefire had been violated which have lead to three major wars, one undeclared war, and innumerable military standoffs and skirmishes. India and Pakistan are believed to never solve their differences on the military front as there will always be too much tension between them. There is one instance which can aptly define the relationship India and Pakistan share is the time when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto said “We (Pakistan) will eat grass, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own….. We have no other choice!” This was a statement made by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto the then Prime Minister of Pakistan (1974) when India had tested their first nuclear warhead in 1974 in Pokhran in a project known as the ‘Smiling Bhudha’. This shows the intensity with which both the nations contest on the international front, no matter what the situation is there is always a constant battle of supremacy present in between them.

A Long Awaited Peace

There have been many attempts to establish a peace dialogue between the two nations; some of the most notable summits are the Shimla Summit, the Agra Summit, and the Lahore Summit. These attempts haven’t exactly been very fruitful as they have always been tainted with events which keep occurring at regular intervals and provide the assurance that India and Pakistan can never be at peace. These peace talks have also been affected a lot by the politics which are played by both the countries. The fact that many politicians use the Indo-Pak issue as vote bank politics should be alarming. The huge amount of importance which has been given to the Indian Army is because of the silent war they are fighting with Pakistan. Many in India and Pakistan consider each other to be sworn enemies and history suggests that there can’t be peace with two countries which have already taken their respective stands on the issue.

India and Afghanistan


Afghanistan has been a country which hasn’t been in the news for the best of reasons in the recent past. This hasn’t stopped the growth of the relationships between India and Afghanistan. India is regarded as the “most cherished partner of Afghanistan” as the relationship is based on the strong cultural and traditional ties which the countries share. It provides a sort of win-win conditions for both the countries as India believes that Afghanistan is one of the most important links to Pakistan and Afghanistan has experienced a lot of development because of India.

The Indian Contribution

There is a whole lot of history behind the good relationship that India and Afghanistan share; the Indian nation was the only South Asian country to recognize the Soviet-backed Democratic Republic of Afghanistan in the 1980s but the relations somewhat deteriorated when the civil war with the Taliban government started. This was also taken care when India decided to overthrow the Taliban and became the largest regional provider of humanitarian and reconstruction aid to Afghanistan. Indians have been working on various construction projects to get Afghanistan back on its feet.

During the US invasion in 2001, India provided Afghanistan with intelligence regarding the invasion and many other forms. When the Taliban government collapsed, there was an establishment of strong diplomatic ties between both nations. India strengthened its ties on the basis of providing some sort of economic stability, constructing roads, investing in extracting natural resources, investing in various departments such as health and education and a lot more. India had also proposed the inclusion of Afghanistan in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

India and Afghanistan have also been on the same front for countering Islamic militancy in the region. They have held the front by strategizing and getting both the military cooperation on the same page as both countries have seen many things which have affected them in ways to take these actions. The Indian Embassy bombing which took place in Kabul in2008 which is considered the deadliest attack since the fall of Taliban from 2001 may have been one of the few reasons why the Indian government thought of taking such a decision.

The Anti-Pakistan Agenda

Pakistan has also accused India to use Afghanistan for its intelligence activities to extract important information regarding Pakistan. They believe that the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) has been training and supporting insurgents to disorder with Pakistan but these are all claims and nothing can be proven. According to Pakistan, Afghanistan for India is a huge cover to run its intelligence activities which are happening behind the scenes. This is also something that unites Afghanistan with India, the common damaged relationship with Pakistan.  Afghanistan has claimed that many of the Taliban insurgents took shelter in Pakistan and were allowed to run their reign of terror over the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. During the Indian embassy bombing, the Afghani government was able to provide substantial evidence regarding the ISI’s involvement in the event. In a way, it may be observed that Afghanistan is the common playing field of the feud that India and Pakistan share but India is somewhat at an advantage as the “home” side backs them.

Afghanistan and Pakistan

“A line of hatred that raised a wall between the two brothers.  -Hamid Karzai

The Tainted Relationship

This is a statement which perfectly explains the relationship that Afghanistan and Pakistan share. Although both the nations are named as the “Islamic Republics” and share a lot of cultural and historical links, their relationship has been tainted since 1947. This was due to a significant reason when Afghanistan asked to join the United Nations (UN), it was only Pakistan which voted against its inclusion and this left a mark on the relationship of both the nations, a mark which could never be overwritten. Afghanistan hit back by armed separatist movements in the Pakistani territories which further prevented the emergence of any friendly claims between the two nations. The war of Afghanistan saw a lot of Afghani people migrating to Pakistan in search of a better life which wasn’t much successful. There have been issues regarding the water rights, Afghanistan not accepting the Durand Line as an international border, the relationship India and Afghanistan share and many such more; which have tainted the peace talks or any form of friendly ties between the two nations.

The Terrorist Influence

The militaries have blamed their counterparts to fund terrorist’s organizations such as the Taliban to wreak havoc in the other’s countries. Afghanistan went a step ahead and blamed Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) for funding the warlords and the Taliban while posing as army officials and claiming them to attack the Afghani territory. The ISI and the Pakistani Army have accused the Afghanis to be mingling with the Indians on the grounds of intelligence and that seems to really put them off.

The Peaceful Dialogue

The former Afghan president Hamid Karzai expressed his views on the Pakistan issue in a very positive manner and said that they were “inseparable brothers” on the basis of the historical, religious and other common grounds that both the countries share. Both the countries have a very good trade agreement and Pakistan also serves as a major conduit for transit trade involving a landlocked Afghanistan.

The Conclusion

The trilateral relations can be termed very complex in all matters as there is a lot at stake for all the parties which are involved. All the countries would want to assert their dominance in the region but what would be interesting is the extent that they would be willing to go. As discussed above the characteristics and the interests of nations involved it can be concluded that the Indian and Afghani friendship is there to stay and with some peace talks commencing between Afghanistan and Pakistan there could be some progress. India and Pakistan are still to be predicted to be at each other’s throats and that doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon. There are definitely some common links which would be exploited and only time shall tell what is there to be further witnessed.


“Afghanistan–India Relations.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 3 Oct. 2018,

“India–Pakistan Relations.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 28 Sept. 2018,

“Balochistan, Pakistan.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 6 Oct. 2018,,_Pakistan.

Khattak, Daud. “Are We Finally Seeing a Breakthrough in Afghanistan-Pakistan Relations?” The Diplomat, The Diplomat, 16 June 2018,

Khalil, Ahmad Bilal. “The Tangled History of the Afghanistan-India-Pakistan Triangle.” The Diplomat, The Diplomat, 16 Dec. 2016,

Griffiths, James. “Who Are the Key Players in Afghanistan?” CNN, Cable News Network, 19 Sept. 2017,

Gettleman, Jeffrey. “In Kashmir, Blood and Grief in an Intimate War: ‘These Bodies Are Our Assets’.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 2 Aug. 2018,



Share on:

Kartik is studying BA in International Relations at Amity and Dropped out of engineering from NIT Hamirpur and he lived in over 5 different countries.