Does Leadership Matter?

Point, Counter-Point offers four perspectives on a current topic. This round, South Asian Voices bloggers debate the role of dynamic personalities and leadership in South Asian strategic relations. Does leadership matter most, or are there other factors at play that have a greater impact on India-Pakistan relations?

Read below for point and counter-point from both Indian and Pakistani bloggers:



In “South Asian Leadership and their Legacies,” Amina Afzal offers historic examples of “leaps in the dark” that “illustrate the fact that the role of leadership remains crucial not only in terms of shaping events but also in ultimately shaping opinions within” India and Pakistan,” including Prime Minister Vajpayee’s 1999 bus journey to Lahore.

In “Narendra Modi’s Leadership and his Pakistan Strategy,” Reshmi Kazi argues that “leadership influences are expected to play a cardinal role in [South Asia’s] stability-instability situation,” and that “how far Narendra Modi will be successful in chartering a stable Pakistan policy will depend upon his personal caliber, competence and leadership.”



In “Leader takes all, not,”  Jayita Sarkar asserts that leadership personalities are not “enough to warrant change in Indian foreign policy at the international and regional strategic levels.” She enlists historic examples to demonstrate that in spite of rhetoric, in India, “when a new leader from the opposition political party had attained power, s/he did not manifest a turnaround on larger foreign policy issues of the country.”

In “Pragmatism, the NDA and Sharif,” Hamzah Rifaat contends that the need in both India and Pakistan for a pragmatic approach to trade and economics, domestic factors including civil-military relations, and spoilers will have a greater bearing on India-Pakistan relations and could also “promise stability when the stakes of cooperation supersede those of confrontation.”