Indo-Pak Relations: The Only Way-Out is Peace

Undoubtedly, the international system works on the principle of political realism where every state finds itself compelled to pursue its national interests even at the expense of others. Furthermore, the movers and shakers (leaders) of world political chess-board tenaciously believe on the famous maxim “there are no permanent friends or enemies in international politics but only permanent interests”. Therefore, they invariably espouse such policies which safeguard their respective state’s national interests.

Many scholars argue that political realism provides a convincing model to analyze rapprochement, détente and cordiality even between the arch rivals. For instance, France and the UK once had a bloody enmity but now have a united deterrence against any perceived threat. Likewise, France and Germany fought brutal wars but now enjoy deep friendly relations under the shadow of EU. These European states integrated and formed EU only because they thought regional integration could better serve the national interests of EU states. Arguably, regional integration stabilized and strengthened peace in Europe; however, all the EU states maintain their sovereignty and foreign policies as separate states. One can argue that the formation of EU and NATO are purely based on realist approach – enhancing security both in traditional and non-traditional perspectives through cooperation.

One may wonder on the point that it would be unfair to draw lessons from EU for suggesting peace in South Asia. Let’s examine the following proposition in Indo-Pak context; “Competition for security among states leads towards conflict or cooperation”. If one analyses this proposition with regards to Pakistan’s competition with regional states for its national security, unfortunately, it only resulted in conflict with neighboring states – thus becoming cause of palpable threats to itself and other states. Perhaps, the same can be true for India as well with some variation. India is playing in the competition very skillfully with a rational approach – resultantly most of internal threats in India have largely been receded. India maintains quite a balanced approach through its high quality diplomacy while dealing with international community.

In case of Pakistan, it has been (is) playing in the competition with no clear goals in sight – conversely facing even existential threats now a days. A large number of militants from Jihadi organizations who have been waging insurgency in Kashmir now have joined the Tehreek-i-Taliban (TTP) or operate as its sub-groups. The state policy has turned them from so-called freedom fighters to terrorists.

I think both India and Pakistan need to learn lessons from China. Despite the fact that China has border disputes with most of its neighbors but always avoided physical conflict to resolve them. Taiwan’s issue is in-front of us – China maintains its claims on it but never wanted to embroil itself physically rather it concentrates on its economy. Pakistan must focus on its economy; it must revamp its approach vis-a-via Kashmir. India also must not dictate political outcomes in South Asia. It must understand that its path to become a first-rate country also passes through Islamabad and Beijing. Together India and Pakistan can make South Asia a prosperous and well-developed region. They must believe that they need to cooperate in the competition for security before it makes their future very doom and gloom.

Do India and Pakistan need more dangerous crisis, conflict or war before they start some sober work to bring peace? Do India and Pakistan need to kill hundreds and thousands of innocent people in each other’s country. Of course, NOT.

Posted in , China, Cooperation, India, India-Pakistan Relations, Pakistan, Theory

Muhammad Sadiq

Muhammad Sadiq is a lecturer at the Department of Defense and Strategic Studies (DSS), Quiad-i-Azam University (QAU), Islamabad, Pakistan since 2007 and a former visiting fellow (fall 2012) at the James Martin Centre for Nonproliferation Studies, MIIS California. He also served at Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) as an “International Relations Analyst” for a short period of time in 2007. He has M.Sc and M.Phil degrees from DSS, QAU. Besides teaching, he is pursuing his PhD from the School of Politics and International Relations, QAU. His area of research and teaching include Nuclear Nonproliferation, Arms Control and Disarmament, and Nuclear Strategy.

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6 thoughts on “Indo-Pak Relations: The Only Way-Out is Peace

  1. Conceivably, the major problem with Political Realism is that it is inclined to slip into extreme version by adopting any policy that suite the state at the expense of other states, regardless of its moral implications. However, I would humbly argue that the European models such as France and UK/Germany more fits into the 18th century German political philosophy of liberal school of thought introduced by Immanuel Kant. Political Realism has flaws and imperfection when it is applied to South Asian arch rivals, India and Pakistan. In terms of Political Realism, both India and Pakistan will seek to preserve their political autonomy and their territorial integrity while competing for power which according to your own words “only resulted in conflicts (unfortunately)”. In addition, Political realism is rooted on National Interest and National Interest must be defined in terms of Power whereas according to Thucydides, if power is uncontrolled by sense of justice and moderation, it brings unrestrained desire/lust for more power and for realists there are no logical boundaries to the size of an Empire (i.e. Athenians vs Sicily). If ignorance to the reality of power is utopian then it is equally blind to rely on it alone.

    In my naïve understanding, Democratic Peace has better applicability rather than any other theoretical perspective of IR in South Asian context, if and only Pakistani democracy is sustained. Why Kant’s assumption (democratic nations were less likely to wage wars) failed in South Asia has its own historical epistemology. From the very first day of independence, both India and Pakistan adopted two different forms of governments. India remained democratic since day one whereas it could not happen in Pakistan. After M.A. Jinnah, all governments (2 presidents and 4 governor generals) were elected and removed undemocratically till the boots of Ayub Khan paraded in 1958. Wars of 1962, 1965, and 1971 took place between Democracy (India) and non-democracy (Pakistan), even Kargil 1999 was also a result of “fragile/powerless democracy”.

    Therefore, in my understanding, South Asia can bear the fruits of political stability by developing and strengthening democratic norms and persistent government policies with cohesive state institutions in Pakistan. The “existential threats” you are talking about are found due to lake of democratic norms, non-cohesive state institutions and un-persistent government policies.

    Another theoretical assumption which can suite the South Asian context is rather idealist but still have validity if established that is Regime theory. Any South Asian Regime say empowered and functional like EU, say SAARC, could achieve what the inhabitants of South Asia are dreaming for, i.e. Peace and Prosperity.

  2. Except Pakistan every country in South Asia knows where it wants to go and what it needs to do to get there. All the countries in South Asia have minor disputes which they have solved by Diplomacy, not by using terror or violence. The country that tried to use that route is fighting an epic battle for its survival. Everyone wants Pakistan to survive and prosper but are simply unable to wean it from its troubling addictions. or belief that one can become a World Power, by having a mighty Military. Very few countries subscribe to a belief that they are achievers because they possess Nuclear weapons.

    We live in an era of Economic Power and Technological prowess. Military Power won many battles in days long gone, today the ability to adapt and improvise are essential ingredients of success. Friends are made on the basis of enduring values, common interests, shared goals and a common vision of the future. Friendship is not about exploitation and manipulation, but about cooperation and mutual benefit. Let every country do whatever it wishes happily within its territory, no one will bother. When actions are designed to hurt another country, the relationship will remain inimical. The bottom line is that Peace will dawn in South Asia and the World at large once realization dawns that human values are universal and States resorting to violence to settle disputes, will destroy themselves.

  3. very nicely written, well articulated one.
    i do agree with iftikhar ali’ views that democracy in south asia can bring peace and stability but again then democracy is a kind of utopia in a country like pakisatn where institutions are fragile and where leadership in highly self driven and incompetent….

  4. i think Pakistan need to put its house in order. we thing Pakistan is at strategic hot spot but in reality this is not the case. Indian’s are going very fast in this globally connected world but Pakistan is getting isolated with every coming day. India is rising at expense of Pakistan. no one is happy with Pakistan even from its neighborhood, Iranians are no comfortable with us, Chinese are pressing Pakistan to control the Islamic extremists which are creating trouble in china. Afghanistan is having strategic partnership with India but not with Pakistan. we are in dangerous waters. Everything in Pakistan is suffering from our idea of securitization. From politics to sports we have sacrificed all. We need rational , pragmatic and result oriented foreign policy rather emotional and conspiratorial.

  5. Dear sadiq, u r getting better day by day. I enjoy ur analysis. India and Pak cannotafford war, i agree with u..we must promote peace…but peace must b from both sides, as far asindia is concerned i dont think india is interested in peace at this moment..the prob in SA started with the annexation of kashmir, india is reponsible for the nuclearisation of this region…due to its stubborn attitude no npt, no ctbt nd due to indian military modernisation no to fmctby Pak…India must take the responsibilty and start the negotiation process, only then we can expect peaceful prosperous south asia……

  6. Agreed with the fact that in contemporary society of the states, partial surrender of sovereignty by almost every member state is evident. However, the argument regarding formulation and execution of the policies by leaders safeguarding their national interests can not be generalized, particularly in the case of Pakistan, needless to mention the details. You’ve given two examples of Europe and China to support your premise but wouldn’t it be too idealistic to implement one political model on another peace of land with altogether different dynamics including demography, history, culture and political realities? Let us for instance agree with the idea of idealizing EU, at the same time we take into consideration the fact that the kind of devastation led into Europe’s integration, we can’t find similar or even closer to that intensity in south Asia and precisely India and Pakistan. If Pakistan and India have not been able to settle their disputes peacefully during the last 66 years’ while playing devil’s advocate, can I dare to submit the idea of further deterioration of relation between the two? Besides the presence of unconventional weapons.

    Trust is the key to establish integration or harmony between the states, but realities on ground reflect huge deficit of trust between both India and Pakistan, which probably is a major hurdle in Asia road to prosperity. Who is responsible for creating this deficit and how can this gulf be bridged are definitely the questions to be addressed.

    Mr. Iftikhar’s valuable views regarding strengthening democratic institutions particularly in Pakistan are of course logical, as seen democracies seldom go for war between each other. I personally feel Pakistan is already late in its establishment as a stable democratic country because of intermittent military involvement in political process of the country. However, must realize and make Pakistan mature Democratic Republic before it actually becomes impossible. Once again, thank you for your thought provoking piece of writing.

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