Academic journal article South Asian Studies

Structuralism and the Indo-Pak Rivalry: Responsible Politico-Economic Factors and Policy Analysis

Academic journal article South Asian Studies

Structuralism and the Indo-Pak Rivalry: Responsible Politico-Economic Factors and Policy Analysis

Article excerpt


Ever since the partition of Indian subcontinent in 1947, India and Pakistan have marched on the path of mutual animosity. Both the countries are struggling to clear out their relation clouded by the debris of partition. Not only are Indo-Pakistani relations tremendously explosive, intertwined as they are with communal relations and internal power struggles in both countries. With their inherently linked foreign policies, both countries have used the Indo-Pak segregation to muster support of their conjugal hard-liners against each other. The historic rivalry is further heightened by the efforts of the ruling government of both the nations. They play an eminent role to ignite antagonistic feelings against each other to suffice their agendas such as winning public support and to divert the attention of the masses from real issues especially economic turbulences.

Hence, they have been both the victims and the perpetrators of violence and extremism. With the advent of new governments in Pakistan and India headed by Prime Ministers Nawaz Sharif and Narinder Moudi, it seems that Indo-Pakistan relations might turn a corner. Measures have been taken to move towards a less antagonistic and more cooperative equilibrium; aiming to extinguish the decades old conflagration of mistrust and animosity. Both nations are interested in strengthening trade ties, exchange of Most Favored Nation (MFN) status, share gas and oil pipelines from Iran and Central Asia, and follow the path of peace and conflict resolution. While this may not end the intractable rivalry between India and Pakistan, it's imperative for the stability and prosperity of both the regions that opportunities for mutual cooperation be pursued further. Simultaneous conflict over territory, national identity and power position in region, makes Indo-Pak rivalry an enduring one. (Paul, 2005). Therefore, it might result in a yawning hiatus between rhetoric and reality.

This paper will encompass four parts. Part one will present an in-depth view of the theory of structuralism. Part two will highlight the history of the genesis of the rivalry between India and Pakistan. Part three will focus on current relations of the two nations. Part four will therein confer a conclusion, based on the relationship of the two countries.


An approach, which lay emphasis on the structures that motivate human behavior, is structuralism. Fundamental themes of structuralism includes: the core elements of the structure remain considerably analogous, but the relationships between them alter; concepts that appear 'natural' to us, such as masculinity and femininity, are in fact social constructs; and that the individuals, too, are the product of relationships. Thus, individual's actions are dictated by the overall circumstances-structures-in which they operate. These structures are comprised of the rules, conventions, and restraints upon which human behavior is based. For example, within the structure of capitalism, the optimal location for an industry would be at the point of maximum profits.

The theory of structuralism can be elaborated by the twist given to realist international relations theory by Kenneth Waltz. Instability and war were less the result of fraudulent human nature or poorly constituted states than of fluctuating distributions of power across states in an anarchical international system. Earlier realist explanations that had dwelt on the characteristics of individual states and their leaders were dismissed as reductionist.

How does one understand the relationship between two arch-rival neighboring countries such as India and Pakistan? There are two possible ways. Relations can be understood on a case to case basis either through historical processes or thematically. In doing so, it is important to identify the points of convergence and divergence; subsequently explaining them in historical perspective or rationally. A rational approach points to a structural explanation of relations. …

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