Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

India, Pak, China must build on de-escalation


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- India-Pakistan-China relations

Three power, India, Pakistan and China need to take a new look at the factors underlying their relationship with each other. The article deals with this issue.

Hope for regional politics to turn a new leaf

  • The announcement by India and Pakistan of strict observance of all agreements, understandings and cease firing along the Line of Control is a welcome step.
  • It is premature to conclude what all this will amount to in the long term.
  • But if all three powers, China, Pakistan and India, can draw the appropriate lessons in humility, there is hope for regional politics to turn over a new leaf.

Lessons for India

  • First, the belligerent use of foreign policy in domestic politics has unintended effects on your international standing.
  • In 2019, the official rhetoric was promising India retaking PoK and putting more military pressure on Pakistan.
  • In contrast, the discourse on foreign policy since the Chinese pressure on the LAC has been one of marked sobriety scaling back all expectations of a flippant militarism.
  • Second, the standoff with China has brought home some stark realities. We can speculate on Chinese motives.
  •  The LAC standoff considerably released the pressure on Pakistan.
  • We were reminded that the LAC and LoC can be linked; that the zone around Kashmir was a trilateral and not a bilateral contest, and that India will need significant resources to deal with China.
  • In the matter of the CAA the talk of evicting Bangladeshis has been starkly checkmated by the need to placate Bangladesh, which is vital to our strategic interests.

Lessons for Pakistan

  • First, India now has enough weight in the international system that any attempts to internationalise Kashmir are a non-starter.
  • Second, the revocation of Article 370 did not unleash the kinds of fissures and cycle of violence within the Valley that Pakistan might have been hoping to exploit.
  • Third, the pandemic is a great opportunity for Pakistan to recognise that opening up to the South Asian region is in its interest in the long term than acting on the coattails of China.

Lessons for China

  • India may not have, in a literal sense, restored the status quo ante on the LAC, the fact of the matter is that it has stood up with enough firmness to send the signal that it will not be a pushover.
  • India signalled a resolve that Chinese military and economic hegemony can be resisted.
  • China cannot wish away considerable Indian power.
  • In fact, by concentrating India’s mind on the China challenge, it may have unwittingly done India a favour.

Way forward

  • So this moment can be a constructive one if everyone understands the one lesson in world politics: There are diminishing returns to belligerence.
  • With Pakistan, India should seize the moment and build on the de-escalation.
  • The pandemic offers an opportunity for greater economic cooperation.
  • Political establishments of both countries will have to think of what is a win-win political narrative they can legitimately offer their citizens.

Consider the question “If all three powers, China, Pakistan and India, can draw the appropriate lessons in humility, there is hope for regional politics to turn over a new leaf. Comment.


The region will be better off with a humility that tries to align them, rather than a hubris that exults in unilateral triumphalism.

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