Issues in the Management of the India–Pakistan International Border

Dr. Pushpita Das is Research Fellow at the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. Click here for detailed profile
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  • May 2014

    A discordant political relationship, three and a half wars and Pakistan’s material support for secessionist militants in the border states of Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir compelled India to harden its international border with Pakistan. An inward-looking economy and the absence of an imperative for regional economic integration also resulted in restricted movement of people and goods across the border. However, in the past decade or so, an emergent Indian economy coupled with both countries’ desire to engage themselves constructively have paved the way for softening the border. As the India–Pakistan border gradually opens up for increased trade and travel, a number of issues such as infiltration by terrorists and militants, cross-border shelling and sniping, trafficking of drugs and arms and so on pose a challenge to the effective management of the border. Moreover, inadequate manpower, lack of resources and inadequate cooperation from Pakistan make management of the border difficult. As a result, India has to continuously balance the imperatives of maintaining the border as a barrier against cross-border terrorism with softening it to enable the regulated flow of trade and travel.