How the Pulwama attack changed India-Pakistan relations

Vivek Mishra
Vivek MishraFeb 14, 2023 | 12:31

How the Pulwama attack changed India-Pakistan relations

February 14 is widely known as the day for love. But since the biggest attack on its armed forces on February 14, 2019, in Pulwama, the meaning of the day has changed for many Indians. And it has completely changed India-Pakistan relations.

The Pulwama attack is the deadliest terror attack that has occurred in the Kashmir valley in the past three decades. Post Pulwama, India-Pakistan ties took a nosedive and Pakistan was once again put under the international scanner for sponsoring terror outfits.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday paid tribute to the CRPF personnel who lost their lives in a terror attack on their convoy in Pulwama on this day in 2019.


India-Pakistan came very close to another war: After the Pulwama attack, there was a significant escalation of tensions between India and Pakistan. India accused Pakistan of providing support to the militant group responsible for the attack and launched airstrikes on what it said were militant camps in Pakistan. Pakistan responded with its own airstrikes and the two countries engaged in a brief military confrontation.

  • On February 26, 2019, several Mirage 2000 jets of the Indian Air Force crossed the Line of Control (LoC) and dropped bombs into Balakot, Pakistan. India claimed that it attacked a Jaish-e-Mohammed training camp and killed a large number of terrorists.
  • The next day, the Pakistan Air Force conducted an airstrike into Jammu and Kashmir in retaliation for the Indian airstrike. Both Pakistan and India agreed that no damage was caused by Pakistan's airstrike.
  • When an Indian MiG-21 was shot down over Pakistan and its pilot, Abhinandan Varthaman, was captured, both countries almost came close to war, but Pakistan decided to return Abhinandan to India after mounting pressure.
  • Since then, there have been some efforts to improve relations, including a meeting between the Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers in September 2019. However, progress has been limited and there have been sporadic incidents of cross-border violence.

The Pulwama attack: The Pulwama attack was a suicide bombing that took place on February 14, 2019, in the Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir. A convoy of vehicles carrying Indian security personnel was targeted by a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (IED) which was driven by a member of the Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed.

  • The attack resulted in the deaths of 40 Indian security personnel and the attacker. It was one of the deadliest attacks on Indian security forces in Kashmir in recent years and led to a significant escalation of tensions between India and Pakistan. India blamed Pakistan for providing support to the militant group responsible for the attack, while Pakistan denied any involvement.

Bilateral trade hit: In 2019, following the Pulwama attack, India withdrew "Most Favored Nation" status from Pakistan and imposed tariffs on Pakistani goods. Pakistan responded by suspending bilateral trade with India. Diplomatic relations were also downgraded, with both countries expelling each other's diplomats and closing their respective consulates.

  • Before the suspension of trade, bilateral trade between India and Pakistan was already limited, accounting for less than 1% of their respective global trade. The majority of the trade was in agricultural products, textiles, and chemicals.
  • Despite the suspension of trade, there have been some recent efforts to resume economic ties, including discussions about the restoration of MFN status and the reopening of border trade. However, progress on this front has been very slow.

History of India-Pakistan relations: India-Pakistan relations have been characterized by a history of conflict. The two countries have fought several wars since 1947.

  • Pakistan broke the terms that were agreed upon during the Lahore Declaration,  their troops, disguised as Kashmiri militants, had infiltrated into strategic positions on the Indian side of the LoC. This led to a full-scale war between the two countries from May to July 1999.
  • After the war in Kargil, different governments on both sides have tried to improve the relationship between the two nuclear-armed nations, but most of these steps didn't make the situation any better.
  • In recent years, there have been a number of terrorist attacks on Indian soil that have been attributed to Pakistan-based militant groups, further straining relations.
  • Overall, India-Pakistan relations remain tense and the two countries continue to have significant differences over issues such as terrorism, the disputed region of Kashmir, and water-sharing arrangements.
Last updated: February 14, 2023 | 12:31
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