Chapter 8. International Relations Notes for UPSC Mains

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Pressure points

  • IWT
  • MFN
  • Raising Balochistan
  • International – USA, Iran
    • Recently US under Trump has accused Pak of sheltering terrorists and has withdrawn of US AID – Coalition support find
    • China – brics – Xiamen summit
  • Fear of Surgical Strikes
    • Is surgical strikes helping ?
      • Sir, preliminary results are positive
      • But, this is a policy we need to wait to see results
  • Nawaj Sharif
    • Issues
      • India
        • Was relatively more acceptable to India
        • Greater military role
        • May lead to a cycle of aggrandising nationalism and could increase incidences of border firing
        • Nawaj Sharif had ventured towards China though. This shift could be checked
      • Other issues
        • Judicial interference
        • Suspending a PM based on accusations
        • Judiciary having a pro- army leaning
        • Indian accused ? – Amitabh Bachchan etc
  • Kulbhushan Jadhav
    • Was he a RAW agent ?
      • Sir, evidences show he wasn’t
      • Even Iran and Germany have supported India on that point
        • That’s the complete answer. Don’t exceed it. But, if they ask what evidence
        • Say that Sir, I don’t have complete information but Indian passport was found with him. It is highly unlikely that a spy would use Passport of his/her original country. Reports even show that Civilian govt has criticised this measure by the millitary court
    • What is wrong in catching a spy ?
      • Sir, as Inidian govt has repeatedly said, he is not a spy, but a retired officer who has been abducted from Iran
      • India has received the backing of Iran and Germany on the cause
      • Secondly, if Pakistan has some doubt, then these need to be resolved in the Cilvilian court, and not in a closed Millitart court
      • Why not Consular access
      • ICJ also agrees Pak should put on hold
  • What should India do ?
    • Prisoner exchange
    • Argue in the Pak HC and get the case passed to Civillian Court and call for clemency
      • Can be done and writ jurisdiction then lies with the HC
    • Sir, first of all, India should take up the matter diplomatically
    • In case it fails, support of othe rcountries such as Iran and Germany who have supported India on the issue should be roped
    • If not, India should use Pressure points against Pak such as taking up the matter in UN, roping US support to restrict the Coalition Support Force Funding and possibly even through leverages such as Indus Water Treaty
  • Should India do a tit for tat ?
    • Unlike Pak, India is a vibrant democracy with full support to laws of the land. India may present its case agaist Pak spies under relavant acts. However, the final decision should be left to the courts
  • ICJ – No death penalty- Orders Binding – Issue – Vienna convention – requires Consular access. See ICJ
  • Last ICJ case
    • Pak took India – Over shooting of its millitary plane – ICJ said not under its jurisdiction
    • India has taken ICJ only once – Over the issue of International Civil Aviation Council denying India the right to block planes from Pak – And India lost the case
    • Since, then India modified the jurisdiction of ICJ – not to cover commonwealth and cases related to disputes or actions taken in self defence
  • How is it different than the last case ?
    • Last case – Military aircraft – Sovereign issue
    • But, here is a person who India argues is not a Miitary person
    • All that India wants is to use Civilan Judicial means to solve it so that no doubt remains
  • Contradiction in India’s stand – Commonwealth ?
    • Sir, as Indian govt has maintained, more than our precedence, it was the International Norm, namely Vienna Convention at stake, which overrode our objection


  • MFN
    • India has been granting MFN to Pak since 1996
    • Pak – no
      • Some improvements
      • Moved from a small positive imports list from India to a list of negative imports of about 1000 poducts
  • Cross border trade through J&K – PoK required
    • Employment for youths – Devil rests in an empty mind
    • People to People contact
    • General economic improvements for India
  • Other low hanging fruits
    • Formalise Ceasefire Agreement, 2003
    • Sign Indian – Pak border rules
    • The two will help minimise crossfire that can escalate into a war
    • Af Pak Transit Trade Agreement
    • If India signs it, would be able to access Afghan easily

Better Relations?

  • General Bajwa – Anti terror
  • Anti terror operations throughout the country
    • Radd ul Fassad
    • Earlier Operation Zarb e Azb
  • Hafees Sayeed arrest and JuD banned
  • Theat of Trump
  • Counter
    • We have seen such cycle before
    • Spoiler Attacks

Gilgit Baltisatan

  • Pakistan considering making it the 5th Province of the country
  • Issue
    • Part of J&K state that was illegally handed over by a British Army officer to Pak
    • UN resolution of 1948 – Pakistan troops to evacuate and interim governace by local authorities and then a Plebiscite
    • Shimla Agreement of 1971 – Not to alter the situation
    • Shia dominated region which was even in the past against 2 nation theory of Jinnah
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Indus Water Treaty & River Problem

  • Indus Water Treaty
    • Signed 1960
    • India can use only 20% of the water carried by western rivers of Indus
    • Eastern rivers to Indus i.e Ravi, Beas, Satluj completely for India
      • But Substantial quantity of water from these rivers continues to flow into Pakistan, to which Pakistan is not entitled.
      • This is because India has not completed the various planned projects on the Eastern Rivers such as the Indira Gandhi Canal, Sutlej–Yamuna Link Canal and the Thein Dam
      • Will have the added benefit of pressurising Pak from within its country to stop wars
    • Western Indus, Chenab, jhelum Pak
    • India though can coonstruct run of river das on these rivers
    • Water is a tool to which Pak has no answer unlike nuclear 😀
      • Con
        • Geneva convention
        • Decades to build new dams
        • International – PCA, west
        • China – Brahmaputra, Satluj, Indus
        • Vicious cycle of terrorism

Days before 26/11 Hafiz Sayeed talked about India waging a water war by constructing the Baglihar dam

Pak – on record saying – Kashmir issue more so because of the rivers presence

      • Blockade of rivers could cause flooding in J&K
      • Escaltion into a nuclear war

Has a potential of 20k MW. India currently -10k MW

The Tulbul project that was was shelved off after Pak objections in 1987 be restarted

  • Controversy
    • Miyar
      • On Chenab
      • India decided tp modify the design of the dam after discussion in IWT in 2017
    • Kishanganga
      • run off river project
      • On river Kishanganga
        • Tributary of Jhelum
      • Pakistan objects to tunneling of the river which would divert water to Wular Lake
      • Hague based court f arbitration said India can divert only a minimum quantity of water, rate to be decided later
      • Project to be completed in 2016
    • Baglihar project
      • On Chenab
      • 500 MW
      • Commissioned in 2008
      • Run off river
      • Pak alleges gives India a potential to divert, block waters against the treaty
    • Under constructuin Ratle Dam on Chenab
    • Wullar Barrage/ Tulbul Navigation project
      • On Jhelum near Wular Lake
      • For navigation purpose
      • After controversy, India stopped construction
    • Also Pakal Dul and Lower Kalnai
      • Both on Chenab
    • Nimoo Bazgo
      • On Indus

Surgical Strike

  • Ministry of Home Affairs – Decline in terror, civilan and soldier casuality after Surgical Strike
  • Need to ratify Ceasefire Agreements of 2003


  • Currently Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue (CBD)( or BCD)
    • Started after Sushma Swaraj visit to US
    • Ufa declaration
      • Declaration in Ufa, Russia between Modi and Sharif
      • Outlined area of talks
      • Controversially left out Kashmir
      • Protests in Pak and therefore proposed talks scraped
  • Earlier Comprehensive Dialogue
    • Started during 97 during Gujral’s time ( Gujral doctrine )
    • Ended after 26/11 Mumbai attacks
  • Was tried to restore by calling it the resumed doctrine
  • Need for talks
    • Terrorism
    • Afghan
    • Solvable issues of Sir Creek, MFN, Ceasefire Agreement 2003
    • Need to continue BACKCHANNEL talks
    • Steps like SAARC Court
    • To show that terrorism is futile
    • Given that Manmohan- Musharraf plan was so close to completion
    • Even international powers doing
      • US- continuation of coalition support funds, more F16
      • China- CPEC
      • Russia- Defence ties
  • Tackling Kashmir alone can’t be a soution. The very existence of Pak is strongly focussed on Anti- India principles. We may solve Kashmir, but then it can escalate new issues – Sir Creek, Indian presence in Afghanistan and so on
  • Issue of Spoiler Attacks and lack of synergy between govt and millitary


CIBMS – also called Border Protection Grid

  • Is military solution really a solution
    • Cold start doctrine
      • Offensive Defence
      • Quick mobiliusation of soldiers
      • Quick attack to achieve the desired goal ( of the type of Surgical Strike )
      • So that Pak does not get an execiuse or using Nuclear Weapons, nor does it get enough time to call for International support
      • Hence, balances Indian goal without escalatingit into a war
      • How ?
        • 3 STRIKE CORPS batallian formed
        • 7 holding corbs batallion
        • Moving the Corps closer to the border
        • Integrated Balltle Groups formed
      • Earlier we had the Sunderji Doctrine
        • But as the post 2001 Parliament Aatcks showed, it took weeks to mobiise the Indian troops on th eborder, by hich tume, Opak had become better prepared, and international pressure had become very high
      • Isssue
        • Pal Tactical Nuclear Weapons

Counter – New Nuclear Doctrine Reinterpretation

    • ]Indian immediate counter attack on NSCM(k) faction after the attack on army convoy, was a befitting reply
      • Also, allowed to table the peace deal faster
    • Can India against Pak?
      • Sure, could use brahmos precision attacks against the laskhar camps, after discussions from the US
      • Ramping up of anti missile shield to check against nuclear missile attacks
      • Similarly, hot pursuit: occasional cross border entry by soldiers in case of attacks, needs to be taken up
      • Proper border protection at the same time- Use of drones, supporting village defence camps (the one that nabbed Kasb-2) , greater RAW cadets selection, more force
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Defensive offense

  • Stated by Ajit Doval – Called Doval Doctrine
    • Focus on Millitary
    • Individual morality behind the requirements of state
    • Focus on Intelligecne operations
  • If you do another Mumbai, you lose Baluchistan
  • Softening in the tone now with CBD ongoing
  • Baluchistan
    • Princely state called Kalat under British paramountcy
    • After British withdrawal, it wanted independence. But Pakistan used force to annex it
    • Revolution in 70s for independence
    • BLA – Baluchistan Liberation Army
    • Crushed by use of NAPALM in which thousands of civillian died
  • Sind
    • Sind Liberation Army
    • Discontent against Punjabis (Lahore, Islamabad) who are accused of discrimination
    • Outsiders includiing Mohajirs (Indians who migrated after partition) grab their land, govt jobs, etc
  • Pros of Defensive offence
    • Checks Pak voice on Kashmir
    • Human rights
      • India raise similar intervention in Ban, Lanka, Fiji, Maldives, Tibetians (Dalai Lama)
        • Lanka itself is a counter of counter 😛
  • Cons
    • Pak raising trouble in Kashmir
    • Escalation into nuclear war
    • Instability in the region – > Terrorism
    • International
      • Iran- Baloch neighbour against the nationalist movement in 70s
      • Indian image
    • Indian NAM policy –
      • Except Ban, India has stood away from Pak border issues
      • Even did not uphold Afghan objection against the Durand line
      • Vajpayee, Manmohan in past have come close to working with Pak to tackle Kashmir, Baloch problem

Entete Cordiale

  • Informal association
  • Engaging in practical, small steps like ( Opposite of Salami Slicing of China )
    • Pakistan investigators in Pathankot
    • Regular NSA level meetings
      • As in Thailand recently
    • Pakistan providing information on possible attacks in Gujarat
    • Modi visiting Lahore, inviting Sharif to swearing in
    • Even the catching of spy, failed to deter
  • Contrast to earlier big wig ideas centring around Kashmir
  • Spoiler attacks can’t tackle entete cordiale
  • India acting defensively


  • Has prevented another major attack
  • More pressure on Pak to punish the Mumbai attackers
  • As world more focused on IS threat, India will anyway find itself isolated complaining against Pak based terrorism
  • At the same time, India is engaging more with the people. Modi recently said,” we stand with the people of Pak”


  • Bail for Mumbai attackers
  • International
    • US – More F 16
    • China
      • 45 billion dollars of CPEC
        • From Pok To Gwadar
      • Called Karamay declaration
    • Russia selling helicopters
    • Afghanistan
      • Af- Pak relations have become more solid under the new president, Ashraf Ghani
      • Recently ISI and NDF , the afghani spy agency signed an MoU
      • Soon after , an attack targeting the Indian ambassador
  • Yet, minor attacks have increased
    • Attacks also in Gurudaspur in Punjab
    • Attcks on army convoy in Jammu

Attack on Uri Indian Army base

  • Alternatives with India
    • Conventional attack against Pak border posts which are found to ease infiltrators
      • Using missile, bombs
      • Con – The resulting would be opportune moment for terrorists to enter India
      • As seen by relatively peaceful times after the ceasefire of 2003
    • Surgical strike
      • Using Brahmos missiles
      • Against known millitant camps in PoK
      • Con
        • Could relight the Kashmir issue
        • Intelligence lacuna
    • Mobilisation
      • Done after Parliament attacks
      • Prohibition on Pak planes using the airspace
      • Similar Pak retalliation
      • Pro- limited economic risk bearing capacity of our neighbour. Pulled out first
      • Con- Expense
    • Tit for tat
      • Covert RAW operations and attacks
      • Unlikely to deter Pak and will only intensify the vicious circle
    • Diplomatic warfare alone

Sir Creek

The resolution to the Sir Creek dispute has been considered a low-hanging fruit for sometime now. The demarcation of the 96 km strip of water in the Rann of Kutch marshlands was one of the factors that contributed to the 1965 India-Pakistan war.

  • Pertinently, it is tied to the larger issue of delineating maritime boundaries and exclusive economic zones. That the creek has changed its course significantly over the years complicates matters further.


Sir Creek is a strip of area between Pakistan and India in the Rann of Kutch marshlands. It is situated in south east of Karachi, and divides the Kutch region of the Indian state of Gujarat with Sindh province of Pakistan.

During recent past history, the question of boundary in the Sir Creek region came up first time for discussion during 1969,

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Significance of this region:

The issue may not have risen, since the creek itself is located in the uninhabited marshlands, has limited military value but holds immense economic gain. The region being rich in oil and gas below the sea bed, control over the creek will add enormously to the energy potential of each nation.

How Convention of the Laws of the Sea has further increased the tension?

Initially territorial waters extended only till 12 nautical miles but since the advent of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, a coastal state can now have control over five sea zones: internal water, territorial sea area (12 nautical miles wide), contiguous zone (12 nautical miles wide), the (EEZ) Exclusive Economic Zone (200 nautical miles wide), the continental shelf (from 200 nautical miles up to maximum 350 nautical miles wide). The EEZ can thus be exploited commercially both for the undersea energy as well as nutrient sources.

  • The said Convention gives additional rights to both India and Pakistan over sea resources up to 200 nautical miles in the water column and up to 350 nautical miles in the land beneath the water column.
  • It also provides principles on the basis of which sea boundaries have to be drawn between the states adjacent to each other with a concave coastline. In short, the land boundary’s general course of direction on the land leading up to the coast can make a difference of hundreds of square nautical miles of sea when stretched into the sea as a divider between the said two states.
  • With the adaptation of 1982 Law of the Sea Convention by both countries, the governments have suddenly realised the enormous sea resources that can be lost or won on the basis of the land terminal point where the border between India and Pakistan ends. That is why Sir Creek has now become more contentious than ever before.
  • Besides, both countries are bound to protect their sea-lanes of communications and make efforts for increasing the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) area through claiming Continental Shelf by submitting claim to UN Commission on Limits of Continental Shelf (CLCS).

Pakistan’s arguments:

Pakistan claims the entire Sir Creek based on a 1914 agreement signed between the government of Sindh and rulers of Kutch.

India’s arguments:

India contests Pakistan’s claim, stating that the boundary lies mid-channel of the Creek. In its support, it cites the Thalweg Doctrine in International Maritime Law, which states that river boundaries between two states may be divided by the mid-channel if the water-body is navigable.

Who is being affected?

The biggest casualty of not delimiting the Sir Creek is the incarceration of thousands of innocent fishermen from the border region who are routinely arrested and their boats and materials confiscated under the premise of illegal intrusion, even though there is no cognisable territorial and maritime boundary delimitation in the area.

Why deadlock?

One of the chief reasons for the deadlock is that India wants the dispute resolved solely through bilateral dealings in the spirit of the Shimla Agreement of 1972, while Pakistan favours third-party involvement and wants to link the resolution of the dispute to contested territories under Indian occupation.

Options before both the countries:

  • Designating the non-delineated area — Sir Creek and its approaches — as a zone of disengagement or a jointly administered maritime park
  • both countries could designate the area amaritime sensitive zon
  • Another option available is the constitution of an arbitration tribunal
  • The solution to the Sir Creek issue also lies in the adoption of the Bombay Government Resolution of 1914, which demarcated the boundaries between the two territories, included the creek as part of Sindh, thus setting the boundary line known as the “Green Line” or the eastern flank of the creek.

Intersting facts

  • Most paki missiles named after invaders of india like ghajni & ghori