It would seem that the Indian army managed on three separate occasions to beat its Pakistani opposite, but did not press these advantages by occupying the Pakistani portion of Kashmir.

The three separate occasions:

In the Indo-Pakistani war of 1947, over Kashmir, the Indian army managed to repulse the Pakistani backed infiltrators from Srinagar and the valley proper. However,they then did not press ahead with the offensive to wrest the remaining part of Kashmir from Pakistan. India instead took the matter to the UN, a move that allowed Pakistan to settle down in the part of Kashmir it had managed to salvage.

In the 1971 war, India, despite having routed Pakistani forces and captured tens of thousands of Pakistanis as prisoners of war (PoW), entered into the 1972-Simla Agreement with Pakistan instead of pressing Pakistan to pull out its troops from Kashmir, a precondition in the UN resolutions of 1948-49 which had given India (rather than Pakistan) a kind of legitimacy in Kashmir of holding the plebiscite (under UN supervision).

Finally, again, in the 1999-Kargil stand-off, India, after forcing Pakistan to vacate their positions in the strategic mountains just didn't press Pakistan into "doing more".

Resulting question:

In light of these events. I wonder, is this version of history correct? If so, then my question is, why is it that India in each one of the above three episodes relented and allowed Pakistan to retain the part of Kashmir it seized control of in 1947-48 despite having had a clear military upper hand over Pakistan?

Is it possible that a reason for this restraint is that, similar to the Pakistani military establishment, the Indian military establishment does not wish the Kashmir issue to go away so it can continue to be of significance in the country?

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    The language is subjective; can you bolster the question with references/sources/analysis? Also note that questions of the form "is it true?" overlap with some bad questions. I think you're asking for more than a mere "is it true", but it might be prudent to shore up the question with some references to help us to understand why there might be an ambiguity. (Having said that, I don't think we have a lot of good questions with those tags, so I'd love to see the question thrive).
    – MCW
    Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 13:54
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    Because they don't want the part of Kashmir controlled by Pakistan? For instance, the Pakistanis have had decades to try to instill pro-Pakistani sentiment in the populace, so if India took control, they would face internal dissention/rebellion?
    – jamesqf
    Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 16:36

3 Answers 3


The question, whatever objections are made to its phrasing, boils down to: India won 3 wars easily and hasn't pushed its advantage to take over Pakistani Kashmir. Why?

This is highly speculative, but I wonder what India would gain from taking over Pakistani Kashmir. Policing Indian Kashmir has been a money drain, international embarrassment (India generally tries to look like a "good guy" in most other affairs) and a rather thankless task. The whole Kashmir mess regularly results in some attacks being launched by Kashmir-inspired terrorists (Mumbai) and news coverage of Indian police brutality.

No Indian politician can afford to give up Indian Kashmir or allow a referendum, in case they'd lose. Indian nationalist pride would never put up with it.

Doesn't necessarily mean they want to increase the problem even more by taking over an extra bit of, potentially even worse, mess to look after. The Indian military may very well benefit from the India-Pakistan rivalry as it gets them better toys like modern jets, tanks, even developing a nuclear capability. But Kashmir itself doesn't require any of these, it requires unglamorous spending on things like military police, informants, manning security checkpoints and training your troops not to kill civilians.

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    The response does not have any basis, neither it sounds logical at any level, Statements like "The Indian military may very well benefit from the India-Pakistan rivalry as it gets them better toys..." may very well prove that this answer is not at all helping anyone Commented Dec 15, 2021 at 3:52

Based on news reporting on India/China of the last decades, India has taken great care in avoiding a conflict with China.

There have been many border conficts between them in the last decades on their present border.

Taking northern Kashmir would extend that common border.

With this in mind, togeather with the reasons given in the first answer, would be a valid reason for India to avoid making China nervous, which has happened when armies in confict (Korea, October 1950) nears her borders.

Any such action in this form could result in repercussions on India's North-Eastern border to China and that is something that India will most likly wish to avoid.

This is basicly a continuation of the Great Game with new actors.

  • Hi Mark, while your answer provides a potentially true factor that may have motivated the Indian government to not press their claims to Kashmir; how do you account account for the 1948 refusal to push to regain territory? As at this time Kashmir did not border the People's Republic of China (PRC), but the Kingdom of Tibet. The PRC would eventually start a campaign to occupy and annex Tibet from late 1950 to mid 1951, which succeeded. However, had India regained the whole of Kashmir in 1948 or 1949 the PRC would have been hard pressed to intervene in a meaningful way.
    – BOB
    Commented Jul 26, 2019 at 17:36
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    My conclusion is based solely on the generaly known situation of the last few decades. It is not on specialized knowledge of the situation. I believe however that it reflects a part of the answer since the 1960's when one understood how China reacts. Commented Jul 26, 2019 at 18:25

Two reasons:

  1. Most of the border between India and Pakistan in Kashmir is barren land made inhospitable during winter. India trumped Pakistan and occupied Siachen Glacier, which it continues to hold till date. Maintaining Siachen itself is a big expense for India. Maintaining the newly occupied territories is also going to be another drain. India needs to setup army posts, build roads etc. all of which are going to cost huge money and time, not to mention human casualities. India probably thinks it's not worth the effort to do all that just for a few hundred square kilometers of land.

  2. Pakistan would never be happy with it. Not that India cares, but it would be a great nationalistic setback for Pakistan which is just looking for some excuse to launch an attack against India (past lessons have taught it nothing). This would lead to unnecessary armed conflict between two nuclear powered nations, something which sane people in both countries have been trying to avoid for a long time.

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