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A Short History Of The Tension Between India And Pakistan

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By Adarsh Badri:

In an interview with Dawn, Sudheendra Kulkarni said that Muhammad Ali Jinnah wanted Indo-Pak relations to be on the lines of the United States of America and Canada. And here in India, Mahatma Gandhi also wanted both nations to have cordial relations. In all likelihood, neither Jinnah nor Gandhi ever wanted the nations to become arch-rivals.

The violence that accompanied partition was partly fed by Hindu extremists, the Muslim League and other Sikh extremist groups. However, none of the parties took responsibility for the chaos that was created. Women and children were kidnapped and raped from the Hindu, Muslim and Sikh communities, and the war that accompanied independence also triggered hatred within both the countries at large.

After four wars and 69 years since the partition, it is very much evident that India and Pakistan cannot just survive as friends. For decades, Indians have accused Pakistan of state-sponsored terrorism. And Pakistan has accused India of supporting ethnic separatism on its soil, mainly in Balochistan.

India and Pakistan fought the first war in 1947-48 over the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, a state with a Muslim majority population and ruled then by a Hindu king Hari Singh. The war started after armed tribesmen from Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province invaded Kashmir in October 1947. And the war ended on January 1, 1949, after both parties agreed to a ceasefire arranged by the United Nations.

Years later, in 1965, India and Pakistan fought another bloody war, with both sides suffering severe losses and citizens having to relocate. The war of 1965 left India and Pakistan seeing each other as more than enemies. In 1970, Yahya Khan (Military General) organised Pakistan’s first direct election, only to find that Bengalis from East Pakistan voted overwhelmingly for Awami League and this was unacceptable to the military. The leaders of the Awami League were put under house arrest and this triggered a civil war in East Pakistan.

Many refugees fled to India for shelter and Indira Gandhi ordered the Indian troops to attack the Eastern Wing of Pakistan’s Army. The result of the war was a clear and major victory for the Indian government and military. Pakistan lost a large portion of its territory and 93,000 Pakistanis were taken in as prisoners of war. Bangladesh was created.

Simla Conference of 1972 was all about India and Indira Gandhi. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto came to negotiate in the Simla Conference. Many experts claim till date that Indira had a better chance of resolving the Kashmir issue during the Simla Conference. After two major wars in 1965 and 1971, Pakistan’s populace and its army exacerbated anti-India sentiments. Soon after the Lahore bus visit in February 1999, Pakistani troops crossed Line of Control in Kargil. However, to the Pakistan army, it was a big humiliation after India retaliated by sending its air force to vacate the captured posts. Why is it that we hate each other so much? What makes both countries enemies? And what are the possible solutions?

For Pakistan, Kashmir is an unresolved and unfinished business of the partition. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in his address to the UNGA in September 2015 said, “Since 1947, the Kashmir dispute has remained unresolved.” And then he talked about the oppression of the Kashmiri population. Frankly speaking, these words made headlines in Pakistan’s mainstream media. And it was hardly mentioned anywhere else in the world. Kashmir has always been one of the main reasons for contention between both countries.

The proliferation of Pakistani based jihadi groups  such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, JeM, and their attacks on Indians have caused more harm to Pakistan than to India. The frequent infiltration of terrorists in India has been responsible for Pakistan to lose out on allies. Hillary Clinton warned, “You can’t keep snakes in your backyard and expect them only to bite your neighbours. Eventually, those snakes are going to turn on whoever has them in the backyard.”

Terrorism has always been a matter of concern for India and to the rest of the world. LeT’s alleged attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001 resulted in both nations preparing and assembling their troops along the border. And later in 2008, Mumbai attacks led to the killing of 166 people and caused worldwide condemnations of the terror attacks by Pakistan based militant organisations.

The Mujahaideen was formed in Pakistan to drive Soviet Union out of Afghanistan in the 1980s and they eventually succeeded in 1989. The Afghan jihad, which came to Pakistan, brought substantial amounts of money, weapons and fighters from the USA and other European nations, which were used to allegedly support the movement for Khalistan.

Now, both India and Pakistan are nuclear powers. And India has already signed a civil nuclear treaty with the USA. India’s nuclear programme is not due to the regional rivalry, but the argument that non-proliferation should be global. This means that either no one should possess nuclear weapons or everyone should have access to them.

On the other hand, Pakistan’s nuclear policy is clearly based on the hypothetical threat of India’s nuclear power. After helping build Pakistan’s nuclear bomb, A. Q. Khan went on to sell nuclear secrets to Libya, Iran and North Korea. Another important figure in Pakistan’s nuclear programme, Dr. S. Mubarakmand, boasted in public, of Pakistan’s ability to “wipe out India from the subcontinent in few seconds.”

Now that both countries are nuclear powers, it is difficult to choose war as an option, unless we choose to wipe out large sections of the population. The future of India-Pakistan relations is far from certain. The issues of Kashmir and cross-border terrorism will remain a major setback for the relations and will continue to hamper the relations with India. How long will this tension last?


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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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