Shaza Arif-Oped thumbnail-Feb-2024-Op 2

Share this article


The nature of Indo-Pak relations has been turbulent right from the onset. Numerous events have influenced the trajectory of this bilateral relationship over time. In this regard, February 2019 stands out as both countries were on the verge of military escalation and nearly went to war, was it not for the foresight and restraint of Pakistan’s leadership. Five years on, the impact of those events is clearly visible in the region at the operational as well as political front.

On 26 February, the Indian leadership tried to test Pakistan’s deterrence by violating the country’s airspace by a few miles. Pakistan Air Force’s response through ‘Operation Swift Retort’ the very next day resulted in downing two Indian aircraft. It was this act and the fear of another humiliation at Pakistan’s hand which has restrained India from carrying out another military adventure in the last five years despite the fact that bilateral relations are at a standstill. However, in future, probability of Indian aggression cannot be ruled out given the current regime’s hegemonic ambitions, new military acquisitions and a history of miscalculations.

On the political front, a continuous deadlock exists between the two states. Bilateral talks have been terminated, trade is negligible and people-to-people contact is sparse. This impasse has been further reinforced by New Delhi’s repressive approach towards Jammu and Kashmir. Abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A on 5th August 2019, atrocities against Kashmiris at the hands of the Indian Armed Forces, electoral engineering and demographic changes continue to impinge relations.  

At the moment, prospects of any constructive dialogue remain bleak. Apart from the February 2021 ceasefire agreement between Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs), there has been absence of any meaningful engagement between the two countries. A prime reason for this bitter atmosphere is the arrogant attitude of the Indian side. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sees India-Pakistan relations through its self-devised ultra-nationalistic lens and Pakistan is perceived as an unyielding neighbour in stark contrast with other South Asian countries. While Pakistan has repeatedly stressed that Pakistan desires peace with India, the same is not reciprocated by New Delhi.  Aggression and hostility are defining elements of India’s foreign policy towards Pakistan. Jammu and Kashmir, which remains a core issue, is the last thing which India wants to discuss with Pakistan. Moreover, in the run to the General Elections in India scheduled this year, the stance has become even more intense.

In reality, as long as BJP is in power, such attitude ought to be expected. Unfortunately, there is absence of a strong opposition in India that can challenge the current government regarding its rigid and extremist policies. The main opposition party – Indian National Congress (INC) – is considerably weak, which has allowed the BJP leadership to unilaterally impose its will. Hence, the current Indian state is busy fuelling a polarised society and is least interested in mending relations with Pakistan.

The increasing antagonism from India is concerning. Various bilateral problems need to be sorted by the two states. A risk-tolerant regime, failure to address existing problems, and acquisition of new military technologies can increase the probability of another escalation, particularly when negotiations are out of sight. The presence of nuclear weapons further amplifies the cost of any potential conflict. Moreover, peace and progress will continue to suffer as a result of this rivalry and the region will be held back economically if there is persistent absence of bilateral engagement between India and Pakistan.

There is no room for dangerous military adventures. The Indian side must realise that it is headed in the wrong direction and its current policies are detrimental in the long run for the entire region. There is pressing need for a conducive environment where both states can have a rational approach towards each other. Pakistan has always demonstrated its positive intent and it is up to the Indian side to adopt a reasonable and responsible policy in this regard.

For Pakistan, 27th February is a day to celebrate the leadership and heroic bravery of the PAF.  As part of its face-saving optics, across the border India will also revere its downed, captured and then released pilot. While it does so, one can only hope that it also rethinks the lessons from this important day.

Shaza Arif is a Research Associate at the Centre for Aerospace & Security Studies (CASS), Islamabad, Pakistan. She can be reached at

Recent Publications

Browse through the list of recent publications.

Pakistan’s Unrealised Remittance Potential

The tide of outward migration from Pakistan surged considerably over the past two years (2022 and 2023), with several millions opting to emigrate with the aim of securing better prospects overseas. For instance, the number of skilled, highly skilled, and highly qualified worker migrants from Pakistan alone increased to 0.77 million, compared to 0.26 million in 2020 and 2021 and 0.48 million during 2018 and 2019, the two years before the pandemic.

Read More »

Neuralink Implant: Scrolling via Thoughts

The human thinking process is nothing short of a miracle. Our brain houses billions of neurons. Physical and mental activities are conditional upon the generation of electrical impulses which are passed on from one neuron to another. Technological advancements have led to the development of devices with the ability to detect impulses generated in the brain and develop an interface with smart devices.

Read More »

The US Annual Threat Assessment Report: An Analysis

The world is in flux with rapid geopolitical changes, accelerating competition, and ongoing conflicts across many regions. Amidst this backdrop, the recently released 2024 Annual Threat Assessment (ATA) of the U.S. Intelligence Community gives a bird’s eye view of US perceptions and misperceptions about the various evolving threats to its national security.

Read More »

Stay Connected

Follow and Subscribe

Join Our Newsletter
And get notified everytime we publish new content.


Developed By Team CASSTT

Contact CASS

CASS (Centre for Aerospace & Security Studies), Old Airport Road, Islamabad
+92 51 5405011

All views and opinions expressed or implied are those of the authors/speakers/internal and external scholars and should not be construed as carrying the official sanction of CASS.