The Roots of Hostility

Article excerpt

Shivshankar Menon's article "Hostile Relations" (Fall 2009) demonstrates the difficulty in resolving differences between Pakistan and India. Indian officials fail to recognize the very existence of disputes. According to Menon, there is no issue of contention between the two neighbors other than terrorism.

Myths on both sides have complicated relations. But mythology often reflects a people's collective recollection. Menon's account glosses over harsh India-Pakistan realities, historical and current. The most significant historical reality is India's military intervention in 1971, which culminated in Pakistan's breakup. As for current realities, three-fourths of Indian forces are deployed against Pakistan. Indian military and political leaders regularly call for punitive military action against their nuclear neighbor. Naturally, such chauvinism finds a response in Pakistan.

India sees a strong Pakistan as a constraint on India's aspiration for great power status rivaling China. This drives India to make consistent efforts to undermine its neighbor. Islamabad sees Delhi's present interference in Balochisan as testimony of this. India also seeks to achieve the same objective by acquiring and asserting overwhelming military superiority over Pakistan. A critical part of this effort involves neutralizing Pakistan's strategic deterrence capability. India's rejection of Pakistan's long-standing proposals for a South Asia strategic stability regime based on nuclear and conventional restraint highlights this, as do Indian efforts to deny Pakistan a similar civilian nuclear deal to that forged with the United States and actions that play up the danger and challenge the safety of Pakistan's nuclear weapons. …


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