The nuclear rivalry between India and Pakistan remains one of the most serious challenges facing the two South Asian nations. Since they both gained independence in 1947, India and Pakistan have clashed in three major wars and in other, more limited military conflicts. Longstanding disputes over territory, access to water, and a host of other issues persist. For over a decade, both countries have possessed nuclear weapons and, according to published reports, are currently developing even more sophisticated nuclear capabilities. Given this background, both sides clearly have an interest in taking steps to enhance strategic stability in the region and to reduce the possibility of nuclear conflict resulting from miscalculation or deliberate escalation in a crisis.
Indian and Pakistani leaders have publicly recognized the need to address this risk. In 1999, the year after both countries openly conducted nuclear weapons tests, Prime Ministers Vajpayee and Sharif pledged (PDF) in Lahore to "take immediate steps for reducing the risk of accidental or unauthorized use of nuclear weapons and discuss concepts and doctrines with a view to elaborating measures for confidence building in the nuclear and conventional fields, aimed at prevention of conflict."