India-Pakistan relations: how can they be improved?

International relations Defence


In the last 65 years, India and Pakistan have been unable to resolve their differences and develop a normal good neighbourly relationship, which could have benefitted people on both sides of the border. There have been several attempts to initiate a sustainable peace process, but most were either stillborn or abandoned in their infancy. Does it mean that the two countries are condemned to live in perpetual hostility? Can they overcome their historic rivalry and emulate the example of France and Germany in the post-World War II era? Are the problems besetting their bilateral relations so intractable that no resolution is possible? Can they set aside their differences for a while and build on commonalities of interests?

Key points:

  • There is a need to embrace an overarching strategic stability regime and to shun aggressive security doctrines to reduce the possibility of a nuclear conflict.
  • The problems of terrorism and Non-State Actors need to be addressed jointly through institutionalised mechanisms.
  • 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.
  • Confidence-building measures should be pursued to alleviate the “trust deficit” but should not be used as a substitute for the resolution of disputes.
  • Economic co-operation and trade should be facilitated to develop mutuality of interest.
  • India and Pakistan need to understand each other’s legitimate interests in Afghanistan and pursue them without coming into conflict with each other.
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