There has been a perceptible change in Indian policy vis-à-vis Pakistan, with focus on ‘diplomatic isolation’ and ‘use of hard power’. What are the possible benefits of this policy? Asses the long term efficacy of this policy. (250 Words)

Mentors Comment:

Discuss in brief the history of India Pakistan relations and the threats to indian security emanating from Pakistan and its long standing role in Kashmir and exporting terror to India.

Discuss the options available before India

Highlight one of the steps that India has already taken by removing the MFN status for Pakistan and enhancing customs duty on goods from Pakistan to 200%, effectively ending bilateral trade. Highlight the impact of the step.

Highlight Pakistan’s predicament with balance of payment crisis and how India can strike it hard if India succeeds in convincing major shareholders of the IMF — the US, European countries, Japan and China — and international organisations like the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) of the Pakistan state’s involvement in these attacks, an IMF bailout of Pakistan, which looked like a distinct possibility will be in jeopardy

Debate whether it would make sense for India to wage a war with limited military objective etc

Analyze the pros and cons of these steps


India has been a responsible power which enunciated the Panchsheel principles of bilateral co- operation, has respected international and bilateral treaties, laws and has been a major regional power in south Asia attempting towards increased co-operation and prosperity. It has been based on these sound credentials and its soft power diplomacy that it is re-emerging as a major, responsible global power with aspirations of permanent UNSC seat.

India has faced various difficult situation in its neighborhood and terrorism has been a main issue between India and Pakistan which has effected bilateral relations in past and continues to effect in present also. In past India has attempted methods like securing its borders, snapping cultural ties, dialogue, urging international community to force Pakistan desist from terrorism. In recent there has been a change in the attitude on Indian side with regards to range of responses considered. After Pulwama attack and Balakot Air Strike, there were demand of scrapping or suspending or violating the Indus Water Treaty, surgical strikes across the border, raising the Baluchistan issue, increased strategic co- operation with West Asian countries, focusing on terrorism through all platforms like BRICS, G20, SAARC,etc., shutting talks till terrorism continues have been some of the responses which indicate a change in the attitude on Indian side.

Benefits of the policy:
• It has given India an alternative way to respond and added an element of unpredictability. Till now the terrorists in Pakistan were assured that India will not take any overt operation against them, which was luring for them as it assured that they can inflict damage on India without suffering anything in return.
• Hard power policy has added costs to Pakistan for pursuing any inimical agenda against India. These costs could be anything like greater isolation, threat of losing on water from Indus and tributaries, greater damage to Pakistan image globally etc.
• It will also send a message to Pakistan that India is ready take the things head on. This may tilt the equilibrium in favor of those seeking peace with India in Pakistan.

Long term efficacy:
But it must be kept in mind that such hard power based policy and efforts to isolate Pakistan globally cannot be continued for long if they do not bring results, as these have financial and economic costs for India. Also, efforts to isolate Pakistan may become mere slogans at global foras, if India fails to persuade other countries with proper proof, through leverages etc.

Way Forward:
It is time to define the nature and scope of our conflict with Pakistan.
As the dominant power in South Asia and one of the world’s leading democracies, India must find a proper answer to what could otherwise become a serious existential crisis.
India need to establish a national security doctrine in order to deal with all security issues
Surgical strikes with support of the global countries.
Strong intelligence network both inside as well as outside the country with effective dissemination to the stakeholders.
Water issues should be resolved through the mechanisms provided by the Indus Basin Treaty and should not be allowed to degenerate into a serious source of conflict.
Creating International pressure on Pakistan to curb state sponsored terror.
There is a strong need for India to change its approach from Responsive to Proactive.
Gaining support of global players to designate terror organizations and its entities as global terrorists.
India needs to engage and develop relationships with countries from important organizations like SCO, BRICS and try to enable solutions for the issue of cross border terrorism.
This must be bolstered with Dialogues at the highest level to track 2 diplomacy.
More avenues for people to people contact need to be encouraged.
Imposing economic and political sanctions on Pakistan and asking the world to follow suit.
The recent move of removing MFN status, increasing of import duty to 200%.

For India stakes lies in normalizing the relationship along western border and ensuring peace, prosperity of the whole region through any permutations and combinations of hard and soft power. Steps must be taken which help the democratically elected government in Pakistan to control military. International pressure through UNSC and other forums to curb terrorism, stopping the financing of terrorism, co-operation with gulf countries to dissuade Pakistan from continuing anti-India activities must be considered.

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