The India-Pakistan Conflict: An Enduring Rivalry

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India-Pakistan rivalry remains one of the most enduring and unresolved conflicts of our times. It began with the birth of the two states in 1947, and it has continued ever since, with the periodic resumption of wars and crises. The conflict has affected every dimension of interstate and societal relations between the two countries and, despite occasional peace initiatives, shows no signs of abating. This volume brings together leading experts in international relations theory and comparative politics to explain the persistence of this rivalry. Their analysis offers possible conditions under which the rivalry could be terminated.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Paul’s edited book is a contribution to the political complexity of the enduring rivalry between India and Pakistan. It is particularly useful to those individuals who seek peace and stability in the subcontinent and adjacent regions. It deserves to be read, studied and pondered, and its proposals tried.”
Garth N. Jones, Journal of Third World Studies
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521671262
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 11/24/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 293
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Meet the Author

T. V. Paul is James McGill Professor of International Relations in the Department of Political Science at McGill University, Montreal, Canada. He specialises in international relations. His previous publications include Power Versus Prudence: Why Nations Forgo Nuclear Weapons (2000) and India in the World Order: Searching for Major Power Status (2002).

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Cambridge University Press
0521855195 - The India-Pakistan Conflict - An Enduring Rivalry - Edited by T. V. Paul

Part I


1 Causes of the India-Pakistan enduring rivalry

T. V. Paul

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? Does the answer lie in the territorial nature of the rivalry, disparate national identities of the two states, and the peculiar power asymmetry between the two parties, or the fundamental incompatibility in the strategic goals they seek? Can the extensive works on enduring rivalries and the emerging literature on asymmetric conflicts shed light on this conflict?

Theories of enduring rivalries and asymmetric conflicts

Enduring rivalries are defined as conflicts between two or more states that last more than two decades with several militarized inter-state disputes punctuating the relationship in between. An enduring rivalry is characterized by a "persistent, fundamental, and long term incompatibility of goals between two states," which "manifests itself in the basic attitudes of the parties toward each other as well as in recurring violent or potentially violent clashes over a long period of time."1 Although there is difference of opinion among analysts on the number of disputes and inter-state crises required for calling a rivalry "enduring," I accept the categorization by Paul Diehl and Gary Goertz, who treat an enduring rivalry as one that involves at least six militarized disputes during a twenty-year period. This specification, according to them, allows defining the concept along "spatial consistency, duration and militarized competition."2 In other words, an enduring rivalry cannot be episodic or of short duration; it should be ongoing for a reasonably long period on a continuous basis before it can be termed "enduring." Enduring rivalries are also called "protracted conflicts," but the main difference between the two concepts perhaps lies in the inter-state dimension of the former.3 Whereas a protracted conflict can be internal or intra-state, involving state and/or non-state actors, an enduring rivalry specifically refers to inter-state conflicts.

An enduring rivalry is often characterized by zero-sum perspectives on the part of the participants. The conflict can become entrenched and societal as parties view each other as highly threatening to their security and physical survival. Enduring rivalries tend to be typified by periodic inter-state crises and, in some instances, war, although war is not a necessary condition for a rivalry to be categorized as "enduring."4 John Vasquez argues that relative equality in power capabilities is necessary for a rivalry to remain enduring, since in a highly unequal power situation the stronger party will in general be able to impose its will on the weaker side and put an end to the conflict.5

Asymmetric conflicts involve states of unequal aggregate power capability, measured in terms of material resources, i.e., size, demography, military capability, and economic prowess. Intangible factors such as will and morale are not included in assessing national power capabilities as these are difficult to measure.6 Further, these factors tend to change over time and are difficult to notice until a real military contest takes place. Weaker parties in asymmetric power dyads often use these intangible means to bolster their military and political positions during both war and peace. Within asymmetric conflict dyads one may notice wide disparity in power capabilities (as in the US-Cuba or China-Taiwan cases) or limited disparity (as in the North Korea-South Korea case).

The India-Pakistan conflict is both enduring and asymmetric, but the power asymmetry is truncated and mitigated by many factors. In particular, the weaker party, Pakistan, has been successful in reducing the asymmetry through strategy, tactics, alliances with outside powers, acquisition of qualitatively superior weapons and nuclear arms since the late 1980s, and, for over a decade, low-intensity warfare. The materially stronger power, India, is not overwhelmingly preponderant in the theater of conflict - Kashmir - and has been vulnerable to asymmetric challenges by the weaker state, Pakistan. Nor is Pakistan too small or incapable of mounting a sustained challenge, as it has proved over half a century. Pakistan, with a population of over 141 million, is the seventh largest country in the world. Its territorial size is larger than most Middle Eastern and Gulf states, except Saudi Arabia and Iran, and its elite has sufficient wherewithal and high level of motivation to sustain the conflict even if at a high cost to its society in terms of economic and political underdevelopment. The asymmetry is built into the structure of the conflict, the power balance, and the goals and objectives that the two parties seek. I argue that this peculiar asymmetry makes the conflict deadly and prolonged. This truncated asymmetry, in recent years buttressed by nuclear weapons, makes the resolution of the conflict unlikely any time soon.

Origins of the rivalry: the historical legacy

A brief historical survey of the origins of the conflict is necessary at this point. The roots of the India-Pakistan rivalry lie in the two visions of statehood that arose within the context of the nationalist movement in the Indian subcontinent. The Indian National Congress, spearheaded by Mohandas Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, sought a unified country built around the principles of secularism and liberal democracy. Although the majority of the Congress Party membership came from the mainstream Hindu population, the party embodied all major ethnic groups of India and had a vision of a state not supporting any single religion. Many Muslim leaders were wary of majority rule which they viewed as tantamount to Hindu rule and demanded safeguards by way of separate electorates. In order to press for their demands with the colonial rulers, they formed the Muslim League Party in December 1906. Their claim for separate electorates was accepted by the British in the Government of India Act of 1909, which offered limited political rights to the Indian subjects. The British rulers were sympathetic to separate constituencies for Muslims which they hoped would weaken the incipient nationalist movement, spearheaded by the Congress Party. However, over time this policy helped to unify the Muslim community in a communal and political sense and sowed the seeds for the idea of Pakistan. Although the Congress Party initially accepted separate Muslim electorates in 1916, it subsequently rejected the idea in the constitutional proposals it made in 1928. Alienation from both the British and the Congress Party led to the proposal for a separate Muslim homeland by the League, which was first put forward by the poet Muhammad Iqbal in 1930.7

The Government of India Act of 1935 was pivotal in the rise of Muslim separatist nationalism, with the League under Mohammad Ali Jinnah deciding to contest elections for limited self-governing provincial governments in 1937. The overwhelming electoral victory of the Congress Party in six provinces and that party's decision not to form coalition governments with the Muslim League - which had not fared well even in the separate Muslim constituencies - disillusioned Jinnah, who then began to propagate the merits of the two-nation theory. The Congress Party's rejection of Jinnah's demand that the League be recognized as the sole party of Indian Muslims (because the Congress itself had a substantial Muslim membership) and the misdeeds of some Congress provincial leaders embittered Jinnah and his followers even further.

In March 1940, at its meeting in Lahore, the League proclaimed as its goal the creation of Pakistan as a separate homeland for Indian Muslims and the Congress-League schism widened even further. The May 1944 Gandhi-Jinnah talks and the June 1945 Simla conference of top Congress and Muslim League leaders failed to break the deadlock between them. The League also benefited from its somewhat supportive position of the war effort by Britain. The arrival of the Labour Party government under Clement Atlee in July 1945 speeded up the Indian independence process. In 1946, the Cabinet Mission sent by Britain proposed that a union between British India and the princely states be established and a constitution drafted. However, this proposal failed to resolve the divide between the Congress and the League. During this time, Hindu-Muslim communal clashes intensified in many parts of India and the last British viceroy, Lord Louis Mountbatten, came to the conclusion that the creation of Pakistan was inevitable. Accordingly, the two independent states of India and Pakistan were born on August 15, 1947, with Pakistan gaining the Muslim majority British-administered areas in the northwest and Bengal and India obtaining the rest of British India, while the fate of the 500-odd princely states remained undecided.8 The partition was followed by one of history's largest mass migrations - over 10 million people from both sides - and was accompanied by brutal violence.

The Indian Independence Act of 1947 contained a provision that the 562 princely states - scattered throughout the subcontinent and partially autonomous under British rule - had the option to join either India or Pakistan. Thanks largely to the efforts of Sardar Vallabhai Patel, almost all states within India joined the Indian Union while Jinnah succeeded in gaining the accession by the Muslim princes within Pakistan's territorial domain. Three princely states decided to stay independent from both India and Pakistan: Jammu and Kashmir in the north, Hyderabad in the south, and Junagadh in the west. While the rulers of the latter two were Muslim, the majority of their population was Hindu and their accession to India occurred through internal revolt or Indian police actions. New Delhi legitimized these accessions through subsequent popular referenda. Only Jammu and Kashmir emerged as the most contentious, given its geographical proximity to Pakistan and a majority Muslim population (concentrated largely in the northern areas and Kashmir Valley) even as a substantial Hindu population inhabited the Jammu area and a Buddhist population lived in the Ladakh region. The Hindu ruler of Kashmir, Maharaja Hari Singh, first chose to remain independent from both India and Pakistan, but in reaction to an invasion in October 1947 by tribal forces from Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province (which were aided by Pakistani regular troops), he sought India's help. Following his signing an agreement to accede to India and the approval of Kashmir's undisputed leader of the time, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, the Indian forces intervened and managed to partially evict the intruders. Jinnah's decision to send in Pakistani troops escalated the conflict to a short war between the two states, which lasted until the end of 1948.

A ceasefire agreement was reached between the two states under the auspices of the United Nations, which came into effect on January 1, 1949. A ceasefire line was established dividing Kashmir, with nearly two thirds of the state under Indian control and the rest under Pakistan, which the latter called "Azad" or "Free" Kashmir. The ceasefire line was monitored by a UN observer mission until 1972, when it was renamed Line of Control (LoC), and has been actively manned by the regular forces of the two countries, with sporadic shellings, occasional skirmishes, and limited incursions. Three major wars (1947-48, 1965, and 1971) and a minor war, Kargil (1999), have been fought over control of the territory, but neither country has succeeded in changing the line to its advantage.9 This military stalemate is only part of the story of the rivalry between the two states. Understanding the structure of the conflict is critical to explaining why the India-Pakistan conflict persists as an enduring rivalry.

The structure of the conflict: asymmetry in goals

The India-Pakistan conflict is simultaneously over territory, national identity, and power position in the region. The political status of Kashmir, from Pakistan's perspective, is the unfinished business of the partition of the subcontinent on a religious basis in 1947. Successive Pakistani leaders have viewed the gaining of the entire Jammu and Kashmir state from Indian control as their core national mission for identity and strategic reasons.10 To the Pakistanis, the Indian-controlled Muslim-majority state of Kashmir, if given full freedom to choose in a plebiscite, would join Pakistan. However, as Bose puts it: "this state-centered, legalistic interpretation of the 'right to self-determination' is significantly different from the highly populist version articulated by proponents of an independent Kashmir."11 Thus, despite the preference of most Kashmiri nationalist groups for independence or greater autonomy from both countries, Pakistan steadfastly holds the view that the partition of the sub-continent is still incomplete and that Pakistan's Islamic identity will not be total until the territory is unified with that country.

From India's standpoint, besides being an integral part of India legally by virtue of the instrument of accession signed by the Maharaja, Kashmir is very much a part of the nation's secular identity. To New Delhi, partition was completed in 1947 and no further territorial concessions to Pakistan are feasible. Further, India argues that the several democratic elections that it has held have legitimized the accession. The pressure of the nearly 125 million (12 percent of the total) strong Muslim population in India attests to the Indian belief that partition on the basis of religion was an unfortunate historical fait accompli and that ceding Jammu and Kashmir, or even portions of the Kashmir Valley or the Vale of Kashmir, where the Muslims constitute a majority, to Pakistan would result in a second partition, negating India's secular credentials. Indians in general fear that letting Kashmir go could open the floodgates of separatist movements in other parts of India and that it may be followed by inter-communal violence reminiscent of the partition days. There exists no serious constituency in India from the left to the right that believes that Kashmir should be ceded to Pakistan.12 Extreme right-wingers in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would want to forcefully integrate Kashmir and even recover the portion held by Pakistan (Azad Kashmir), since ceding it to Pakistan or allowing independence to Kashmiris will be tantamount to placating the minority Muslims, while more moderate political groups would like to see a peaceful integration of Kashmir within the Indian Union. It seems that restoring Kashmir's pre-1953 autonomous status is the maximum concession that most Indian moderates would agree to.13

Despite the rhetoric about the indivisibility of Kashmir, it seems that the Indian elite and public could live with the status quo on the territorial division, i.e., acceptance of the Line of Control separating the Indian and Pakistani sides of Kashmir as the permanent border.14 However, even in this instance, compromise has been constrained by the disparate positions within the Kashmiri liberation movement. This movement is a conglomerate of groups, some of which want to create an Islamic state while others are more tolerant toward the inclusion of the minority Hindu and Buddhist populations. The involvement of Islamic insurgent groups from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other parts of the Middle East and Central Asia and the deadly terrorist tactics they employ have undermined their cause within India. In the post-September 11, 2001 context, they also have lost much international sympathy as the intimate links between some such groups and al-Queda have been exposed. Despite this, the fact remains that a peace settlement between India and Pakistan would require the fulfillment of Kashmiri aspirations in some meaningful way. The challenge remains how the three mutually exclusive claims of India, Pakistan, and the Kashmiri movements can be accommodated, satisfying the aspirations of the three contestants simultaneously.15

Some of India's domestic constraints arise from the tendency of democratic states not to make territorial concessions, especially to non-democratic countries. This is because the political leader and party that make territorial concessions, especially under threat of violence, are not likely to get re-elected.16 The Indian political parties seem to be unwilling to make territorial concessions to either China or Pakistan partly because of this factor. Despite its position of no revision to the territorial status quo, India has not been successful in fully integrating the Kashmiri population and legitimizing its control. This lack of success is due partly to the sometimes highhanded tactics of the Indian security forces in dealing

© Cambridge University Press

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Table of Contents

Part I. Introduction: 1. Causes of the India-Pakistan enduring rivalry T. V. Paul; Part II. Theories of Enduring Rivalry and the South Asian Conflict: 2. Theoretical specifications of enduring rivalries: applications to the India-Pakistan case Paul F. Diehl, Gary Goertz and Daniel Saeedi; 3. India-Pakistan conflict in light of general theories of war, rivalry and deterrence John A. Vasquez; 4. The Indo-Pakistani rivalry: prospects for war, prospects for peace Daniel S. Geller; 5. Realpolitik and learning in the India-Pakistan rivalry Russell J. Leng; Part III. Roots of the India-Pakistan Conflict: 6. Major powers and the persistence of the India-Pakistan conflict Ashok Kapur; 7. Nuclear weapons and the prolongation of the India-Pakistan rivalry Saira Khan; 8. National identities and the Pakistan-India conflict Vali Nasr; 9. At the heart of the conflict: irredentism and Kashmir Stephen Saideman; 10. Institutional causes of the Indo-Pakistani rivalry Reeta Chowdhari Tremblay and Julian Schofield; Part IV. Conclusions: 11: South Asia's Embedded conflict: understanding the India-Pakistan rivalry T. V. Paul and William Hogg.

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