Why has the India-Pakistan Rivalry Been so Enduring? Power Asymmetry and an Intractable Conflict
Why is it important?
The India-Pakistan conflict is one of the most enduring rivalries of the post-World War era. Thus far, it has witnessed four wars and a number of serious interstate crises. The literature on enduring rivalries suggests that the India-Pakistan dyad contains factors such as unsettled territorial issues, political incompatibility, irreconcilable positions on national identity, and the absence of significant economic and trade relations between the two states, all cause the rivalry to persist. In this article I present a crucial neglected structural factor that explains the endurance of the rivalry. I argue that the peculiar power asymmetry that has prevailed between the two antagonists for over half a century has made full termination of the rivalry difficult in the near-term. Truncated power asymmetry is a causal factor in this rivalry's persistence, as rivalries between a status quo power and a challenger state that are relatively equal in their capabilities at the local level are the most intractable and nearly impossible to resolve quickly. The duration of many other asymmetric rivalries can also be explained using a framework of global superiority versus local parity in power capabilities that exist between the antagonists.
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