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.