The fact that the two countries are nuclear capable and are believed to have developed an unknown number of nuclear warheads makes their rivalry even more dangerous.

The tension has some of its roots in the creation of Pakistan to provide a home for the territory’s Muslims that year, a partition that uprooted millions and left hundreds of thousands dead from the migrations and preceding clashes.

Since then, the South Asian nuclear rivals have fought three major wars and have had numerous border skirmishes. Two of the wars were over the Himalayan region of Kashmir which is divided between the two, with both claiming the entire region.

The rivalry spans from military hardware to sports. They carried out tit-far-tat nuclear explosions in 1998 and are involved in an unofficial missile race.

When at peace, the two compete in the fields of cricket, a shared legacy of colonial Britain, where their “friendly” fixtures can take on a martial character.

Their strong linguistic, cultural and literary links spanning the centuries are manifested today by the cross-border appeal of Indian Bollywood films and Pakistan’s TV dramas.

The potential for mutually beneficial business ties is huge but has not been tapped because of the political disputes.

They have often disagreed over which issue should be discussed first, as Pakistan wants to place Kashmir at the centre of all diplomatic engagements while India has been pushing to discuss alleged cross-border terrorism first.

The last comprehensive effort – the composite dialogue of 2004 – was suspended after gunmen attacked the Indian city of Mumbai in 2008, for which New Delhi blamed Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba militants.

Talks have remained largely stalled in the last few years amid deadly border clashes that scuttled peace moves.

Matters have come to a head yet again with a militant attack on an Indian Army installation in Indian-administered Kashmir on September 18 in which 18 Indian soldiers were killed.

India claimed the deadly attack was carried out by militants based in Pakistan and retaliated 10 days later, firing on the de facto border in the Kashmir region killing two Pakistan soldiers and injuring nine.

Both sides said their military was prepared for “any eventuality.”

The de facto border in Kashmir, where Indian and Pakistan troops stand guard, was described as “the most dangerous place on Earth” as far back as 1994 by William E Burrows and Robert Windrem in their book “Critical Mass: The Dangerous Race for Superweapons in a fragmenting World.”

Source: GNA/


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