The India Pakistan Relationship Politics

Essay add: 16-06-2017, 16:01   /   Views: 20

India - Pakistan relationship has been marred with conflict ever since their independence and both the nations have been involved in three major wars till date in1947-48, 1965 and 1971. In 1998, both countries conducted nuclear tests to enter the nuclear powered nations club. This led a few number of experts to profess that the nuclear deterrence would lead to stabilization of conflict in the sub continent and result in establishment of peace. This kind of deterrence was witnessed by the world for the second time, the first being nuclear deterrence between the cold war foes of NATO and Warsaw Pact countries and to be more specific the US and USSR. Experts from the field of international relations who applied the theories developed in the cold war era Europe to the South Asian rivalry professed that the chances of conventional conflict using regular forces are a thing of the past in case of these two nations. This theory was further reinforced by the Kargil war and the standoff subsequent to the attack on Indian Parliament in 2001.

In 1999 Pakistan occupied a large number of posts after crossing the LOC in the Kargil sector, threatening the crucial Srinagar - Leh highway using regular troops in the guise of Mujahids. The Indian Army reacted to the situation by regrouping and launching "Operation Vijay", and started to recapture the posts by forcibly removing Pakistani troops occupying the posts. This operation was also accompanied by a full scale mobilisation of its military forces by India; however despite the tough posturing by India the war remain limited to the Kargil sector. This was primarily because of tremendous pressure mounted by the international community, especially the US fearing that this conflict may escalate to a nuclear plain.

In 2001 the same massive mobilisation was witnessed by both the countries when they had their forces deployed against each other ready for combat. This time in December 2001 following the attack on the Indian parliament by a group of militants trained in Pakistan. The situation reached a flash point when on 14 May 2002, when another terrorist attack on the Indian Army camp in Kaluchak threatened to start a war between the two nuclear neighbours. In this instance also, as seen in Operation Vijay, India despite posturing did not take any punitive offensive action against Pakistan despite having all its forces in a completely mobilized state.

The above incidents did reflect a situation where in Pakistan had effectively used the nuclear deterrence to attain strategic parity with India negating a conventional disadvantage and thus supposedly giving it immunity to conduct sub conventional operations without the fear of any retribution. Thus India to face major challenges in conducting sub conventional spectrum in Kashmir, which Pakistan initiated after covertly attaining the nuclear technology in the late 1980s. Its conventional strength negated, and with no option to retaliate India find itself in a position where it will have to work its way around this nuclear parity, so as to be able to stifle the Pakistan supported terrorism. Therefore, we need to carefully study the nuclear capability and doctrine of Pakistan in conjunction with the theories of nuclear deterrence, to work out ways for India to exploit its massive conventional superiority by utilizing it to escalate the conflict spectrum, such that it remains under the level of 'Total War'.


To analyze nuclear deterrence in India Pakistan relations. Explore the possibility of use of conventional forces by India to counter the sub - conventional threat faced from Pakistan, while avoiding a nuclear war.


Having attained nuclear capability Pakistan has been acting with a presumption that India's conventional superiority has been totally negated by the nuclear symmetry and has encouraged the Pakistani military elite to intensify the ongoing Proxy War in Jammu and Kashmir. This has had catastrophic consequences for India, which though enjoying substantial conventional superiority, is unable to use it to counter Pakistan's sub conventional threat. It is therefore important to study the interaction between conventional and nuclear deterrence on the India Pakistan relations and generate credible conventional responses to the sub conventional conflict India finds itself embroiled in Jammu and Kashmir.


Indian armed forces along with paramilitary forces are deeply committed in counterinsurgency operations in Jammu & Kashmir, which is fallout of the sub conventional operations by Pakistan in the state. This has been possible due to the fact, that Pakistan has been able to achieve strategic parity with India by attaining nuclear capability which affords it certain degree of immunity from direct retaliation through conventional means by Indian forces. Off late, the thought process in higher echelons of Indian leadership has been to ascertain 'What should be India's response, should Pakistan continue with its sub conventional campaign?' While a majority of international relation theorists who studied the nuclear deterrence during the cold war, suggest that the likelihood of a conventional conflict between two nuclear armed rivals are slim, as it leads to a situation of mutually assured destruction (MAD). However, it would be injudicious to apply these theories in their entirety in the Indo - Pak context, as the conditions and realties that exist in South Asia are considerably different than that of the cold war. Thus there exists a window for vertical escalation of the ongoing sub conventional engagement which is below the nuclear threshold. This would however depend on Pakistan's response to a conventional threat, as it the weaker party. Thus any suggested response for India should also carefully consider the Pakistani nuclear capability and doctrine as well, so as to work out practical options for use of conventional military and allow India to effectively counter its asymmetric threat. This study is thus aimed at ascertaining the possibility of a conventional war between India and Pakistan without it getting escalated to a total war.


The paper concentrates on analysing the effect of nuclear deterrence on India and Pakistan relations, applicability of various international relation theories on this relationship and possibility of use of conventional forces by India as counter to proxy war waged by Pakistan while staying below the nuclear threshold.


The methodology employed in this investigation to gather information and data was as follows: -

Scanning of literature on nuclear capability and doctrines of India and Pakistan.

Study of various International Relation theories worked out to explain the superpower relations during the cold war.

Scanning various articles and books by authors concerning the nuclear situation in South Asia.

A bibliography of sources studied and referred has been appended at the end of the text.


The dissertation has been carried out in the following parts:-

Chapter I - Introduction.

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