Causes of the India–Pakistan enduring rivalry

T. V. Paul
  • Cambridge University Press
  • DOI: 10.1017/cbo9780511616112.002

Causes of the India–Pakistan enduring rivalry

Why is it important?

The India–Pakistan rivalry remains one of the most enduring and unresolved conflicts of our times. Begun in the aftermath of the birth of the two states from British colonial rule in 1947, it has continued for well over half a century with periodic wars and crises erupting between the two rivals. The conflict has affected all key dimensions of inter-state and societal relations of the two antagonists. Despite occasional peace overtures and periods of détente, it shows no signs of a permanent settlement in the near future. Since the late 1980s, the open acquisition of nuclear weapons by the two states, the increasing number of crises involving them, and the introduction of terrorist tactics into the conflict have led to the heightened possibility of a cataclysmic war breaking out in South Asia with unimaginable consequences. What explains the persistence of this rivalry even when some other long-running conflicts in different parts of the world have come to an end? Do existing theories of enduring rivalries provide compelling explanations for this ongoing conflict? Can the rivalry and its persistence be understood on the basis of factors at the international, societal, and decisionmaker levels of analysis? Is it the convergence of these factors that keeps the conflict enduring in nature? Why do the near- and medium-term prospects of negotiating an end to this enduring rivalry look bleak?

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