India has formal diplomatic relations with most nations; it is the world’s second most populous country, the world’s most-populous democracy and one of the fastest growing major economies. With the world’s seventh largest military expenditure, ninth largest economy by nominal rates and third largest by purchasing power parity, India is a regional power, a nascent great power and a potential superpower. India’s growing international influence gives it a prominent voice in global affairs.

The Economist magazine argues, however, that underinvestment in diplomacy and a lack of strategic vision have minimised India’s influence in the world. India is a newly industrialised country, it has a long history of collaboration with several countries and is considered one of the leaders of the developing world along with China, Brazil, Russia and South Africa (the BRICS countries). India was one of the founding members of several international organisations, most notably the United Nations, the Asian Development Bank, G20 industrial nations and the founder of the Nonaligned movement.

India has also played an important and influential role in other international organisations like East Asia Summit, World Trade Organisation, International Monetary Fund (IMF), G8+5 and IBSA Dialogue Forum. Regionally, India is a part of SAARC and BIMSTEC. India has taken part in several UN peacekeeping missions and in 2007, it was the secondlargest troop contributor to the United Nations. India is currently seeking a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, along with the G4 nations.

Relations with PakistanDespite historical, cultural and ethnic links between them, relations between India and Pakistan have been plagued by years of mistrust and suspicion ever since the partition of India in 1947. The principal source of contention between India and its western neighbor has been the Kashmir conflict. After an invasion by Pashtun tribesmen and Pakistani paramilitary forces, the Hindu Maharaja of the Dogra Kingdom of Jammu and Kashmir, Hari Singh, and its Muslim Prime Minister, Sheikh Abdullah, signed an Instrument of Accession with New Delhi.

The First Kashmir War started after the Indian Army entered Srinagar, the capital of the state, to secure the area from the invading forces. The war ended in December 1948 with the Line of Control dividing the erstwhile princely state into territories administered by Pakistan (northern and western areas) and India (southern, central and northeastern areas). Pakistan contested the legality of the Instrument of Accession since the Dogra Kingdom has signed a standstill agreement with it.

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The Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 started following the failure of Pakistan’s Operation Gibraltar, which was designed to infiltrate forces into Jammu and Kashmir to precipitate an insurgency against rule by India. The five-week war caused thousands of casualties on both sides. It ended in a United Nations (UN) mandated ceasefire and the subsequent issuance of the Tashkent Declaration. India and Pakistan went to war again in 1971, this time the conflict being over East Pakistan.

The large-scale atrocities committed there by the Pakistan army led to millions of Bengali refugees pouring over into India. India, along with the Mukti Bahini, defeated Pakistan and the Pakistani forces surrendered on the eastern front. The war resulted in the creation of Bangladesh. In 1998, India carried out the Pokhran-II nuclear tests which was followed by Pakistan’s Chagai-I tests. Following the Lahore Declaration in February 1999, relations briefly improved. A few months later however,Pakistani paramilitary forces and Pakistani Army, infiltrated in large numbers into the Kargil district of Indian Kashmir.

This initiated the Kargil conflict after India moved in thousands of troops to successfully flush out the infiltrators. Although the conflict did not result in a full-scale war between India and Pakistan, relations between the two reached all-time low which worsened even further following the involvement of Pakistan-based terrorists in the hijacking of the Indian Airlines IC814 plane in December 1999. Attempts to normalise relations, such as the Agra summit held in July 2001, failed.

An attack on the Indian Parliament in December 2001, which was blamed on Pakistan, which had condemned the attack[105] caused a military standoff between the two countries which lasted for nearly a year raising fears of a nuclear conflict. However, a peace process, initiated in 2003, led to improved relations in the following years. Since the initiation of the peace process, several confidence-buildingmeasures (CBMs) between India and Pakistan have taken shape. The Samjhauta Express and Delhi–Lahore Bus service are two of these successful measures which have played a crucial role in expanding people-to-people contact between the two countries.

[106] The initiation of Srinagar–Muzaffarabad Bus service in 2005 and opening of a historic trade route across the Line of Control in 2008 further reflects increasing eagerness between the two sides to improve relations. Although bilateral trade between India and Pakistan was a modest US$1.7 billion in March 2007, it is expected to cross US$10 billion by 2010. After the Kashmir earthquake in 2005, India sent aid to affected areas in Pakistani Kashmir & Punjab as well as Indian Kashmir.

The 2008 Mumbai attacks seriously undermined the relations between the two countries. India alleged Pakistan of harboring militants on their soil, while Pakistan vehemently denies such claims. Relations are currently hampered since India has sent a list of 40 alleged fugitive in various terror strikes to Pakistan, expecting them to be handed over to India. Pakistan, on the other hand, has declared that it has no intentions whatsoever of carrying out their extradition. The August 2013 attack by the Pak army on the LoC killed five Indian army men,which further strained the relations between the two nations.

China Despite lingering suspicions remaining from the 1962 Sino-Indian War and continuing boundary disputes over Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh, Sino-Indian relations have improved gradually since 1988. Both countries have sought to reduce tensions along the frontier, expand trade and cultural ties, and normalise relations. A series of high-level visits between the two nations have helped improve relations. In December 1996, PRC President Jiang Zemin visited India during a tour of South Asia.

While in New Delhi, he signed with the Indian Prime Minister a series of confidence-building measures for the disputed borders. Sino-Indian relations suffered a brief setback in May 1998 when the Indian Defence minister justified the country’s nuclear tests by citing potential threats from the PRC. However, in June 1999, during the Kargil crisis, then-External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh visited Beijing and stated that India did not consider China a threat. By 2001, relations between India and the PRC were on the mend, and the two sides handled the move from Tibet to India of the 17th Karmapa in January 2000 with delicacy and tact.

In 2003, India formally recognised Tibet as a part of China, and China recognised Sikkim as a formal part of India in 2004. Since 2004, the economic rise of both China and India has also helped forge closer relations between the two. Sino-Indian trade reached US$36 billion in 2007, making China the single largest trading partner of India. The increasing economic reliance between India and China has also bought the two nations closer politically, with both India and China eager to resolve their boundary dispute.

They have also collaborated on several issues ranging from WTO’s Doha round in 2008 to regional free trade agreement. Similar to Indo-US nuclear deal, India and China have also agreed to cooperate in the field of civilian nuclear energy. However, China’s economic interests have clashed with those of India. Both the countries are the largest Asian investors in Africa and have competed for control over its large natural resources. India and China agreed to take bilateral trade up to US$100 billion on a recent visit by Wen Jiabao to India.

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Volume 10 Issue 40 | New York | Oct 14

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