South Asia Without Superpower Competition
WITH DRAWAL OF BRITAIN FROM THE INDIAN SUBCONTINENT OCcurred in 1947 just as the Iron Curtain came down between the USSR and the United States. The relationships between the South Asian neighbors were influenced by the East-West rivalry that was a salient feature of the cold war era. Located at the edge of the Communist world, India and Pakistan were drawn into the vortex almost as soon as they became independent. Throughout the cold war, the interactions between these two states and the rest of the world were conditioned by their rivalry with each other. India and Pakistan fought two and a half wars, in 1948, 1965, and 1971, respectively. There were several alarms that brought one or both superpowers into defusing tensions (e.g., in May 1990 and July 1999).
South Asia served as the proving ground for the Reagan Doctrine that the Soviet Empire need not last and could be reduced. The defeat of the USSR in Afghanistan and its subsequent withdrawal had major consequences for the Soviet state and the future of Communism. The demise of the Soviet Union caused serious reappraisals in India and Pakistan. This paper examines the salient features of the cold war as they affected the subcontinent; it looks at the direct and indirect consequences of the collapse of the USSR for India and Pakistan; it speculates on the future of South Asia—without superpower competition.
Had the history of British India’s partition into two new successor states been different, perhaps there would not have been any need for outside patrons for India and Pakistan.1 The hasty British withdrawal and the lack of care in the drawing of the boundaries