South Asia's embedded conflict: understanding the India–Pakistan rivalry

T. V. Paul, William Hogg
  • Cambridge University Press
  • DOI: 10.1017/cbo9780511616112.012

South Asia's embedded conflict: understanding the India–Pakistan rivalry

Why is it important?

The contributors to this volume have endeavored to provide both theoretical and policy-oriented analyses and prescriptions on the India–Pakistan conflict, one of the longest lasting rivalries in the contemporary world. In attempting to offer a novel approach, this volume brought together specialists from both international relations and comparative politics. As such, the analyses they have offered examined a variety of factors – global and regional balance of power and power distribution, nuclear weapons, political systems, national identity, religion, and levels of economic interactions – variables drawn from both international and domestic politics levels, in order to understand both the persistence and possible pathways for termination of the rivalry. One of the main concerns of the volume's editor was whether area specialists could communicate fruitfully with international relations theorists, and vice versa. International relations theory, as highlighted in some of the chapters in this volume, does not yet offer a strong framework for explaining the rivalry between India and Pakistan. International relations paradigms, such as realism, and theories such as balance of power and power transition that draw on systemic level explanations offer only partial clues to the understanding of the ongoing conflict. A comprehensive yet convincing theoretical framework is wanting. Area specialists, on the other hand, have been apt to offer explanations based on idiosyncratic variables pertaining to decisionmaker, nation-state, or regional level factors. If the two subfields can exchange views with each other, perhaps a comprehensive explanation for the persistence of this multifaceted conflict could be developed.

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