Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

Crises in Pakistan is an occasion to reflect on the long-term regional consequences

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Crises in Pakistan and India's approach towards it

Context

Whether it can or should make a difference to Pakistan’s internal politics, India must pay greater attention to the internal dynamics of our most difficult neighbour and more purposefully engage a diverse set of actors in that polity.

India’s interventions in internal affairs of neighbours

  • Except for Pakistan, in most other countries of the subcontinent, India is drawn quickly into their internal political arguments.
  • Delhi has always exercised some influence on the outcomes of those contestations.
  • It is enough to note that India’s interventions are a recurring pattern in the subcontinent’s international relations.
  • Even when Delhi is reluctant to get into the weeds of these conflicts, the competing parties in the neighbourhood demand India’s intervention on their behalf.
  • All of the contestants, of course, resolutely oppose India’s meddling when it goes against them.
  • But Delhi has rarely been a decisive player in Pakistan’s internal politics.
  • Delhi’s hands-off attitude is surprising, given India’s huge stakes in the nature of Pakistan’s policies and their massive impact on regional security.

Current crises in Pakistan

  • Internal crises: Among the many challenges confronting Pakistan is the fresh breakdown in civil-military relations.
  • Pakistan’s economy is in a tailspin as it struggles to negotiate a stabilisation package with the International Monetary Fund.
  • The militant religious movement Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) has mounted a fresh march against the capital demanding the release of its arrested leader.
  • External crises: The internal crises are sharpened by worsening external conditions.
  • In Afghanistan, Pakistan has succeeded in restoring the Taliban to power.
  • The celebrations have not lasted too long; the long-awaited victory is turning sour.
  • The Arab Gulf states that have been fast friends of Pakistan are now tilting towards India.
  • Once a favourite partner of the West, Pakistan today faces tensions in its ties with the US and Europe.
  • More broadly, nuclear weapons and a powerful army seem unable to stop Pakistan’s relative decline in relation to not just India but also Bangladesh.
  • Pakistan’s economy is now 10 times smaller than that of India and is well behind Bangladesh.

Suggestions

  • Whether it can or should make a difference to Pakistan’s internal politics, India must pay greater attention to the internal dynamics of our most difficult neighbour and more purposefully engage a diverse set of actors in that polity.
  • For Delhi, it is always about narrow political arguments with Rawalpindi and Islamabad; it is as if the people of Pakistan do not exist.
  • For India, the crises in Pakistan should be an occasion to reflect on the long-term regional consequences of Pakistan’s internal turbulence.
  • It might be argued that that unlike elsewhere in the neighbourhood, Delhi’s leverage in Pakistan’s politics is limited. But it is by no means negligible.

Consider the question “For Delhi, it is always about narrow political arguments with Rawalpindi and Islamabad; it is as if the people of Pakistan do not exist. The depth of the current crises in Pakistan, however, should nudge India into overcoming this entrenched indifference. Comment.”

Conclusion

India looms so large in Pakistan’s mind space. For Delhi, it may be worth trying to turn that into influence over Pakistan’s policies if only at the tactical level and at the margins.

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