Shooting for a Century

Shooting for a Century: The India-Pakistan Conundrum

STEPHEN P. COHEN
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 236
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7864/j.ctt4cg8gm
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  • Book Info
    Shooting for a Century
    Book Description:

    The rivalry between India and Pakistan has proven to be one of the world's most intractable international conflicts, ever since 1947 when the British botched their departure from the South Asian subcontinent. And the enmity is likely to continue for another thirty-five years, reaching the century mark. This has critical implications for both countries and the rest of the world. Renowned South Asia expert Stephen P. Cohen explains why he expects this rivalry to continue in this first comprehensive survey of the deep historical, cultural, and strategic differences that underpin the hostility.

    In recent years the stakes have increased as India and Pakistan have each acquired a hundred or more nuclear weapons, blundered into several serious crises, and become victims of terrorism, some of it from across their borders. America is puzzled by the problem of dealing with a rising India and a struggling Pakistan, and Cohen offers a fresh approach for U.S. policy in dealing with these two powers.

    Drawing on his rich experience in South Asia to explore the character, depth, and origin of Indian and Pakistani attitudes toward each other, Cohen develops a comprehensive theory of why the dispute between New Delhi and Islamabad is likely to persist. He also describes the terrible cost of this animosity for the citizens of India and Pakistan, including the region's high levels of violence and low level of economic integration. On a more hopeful note, however, he goes on to suggest developments that could ameliorate the tension, including a more active role for the UnitedStates in addressing a range of issues that divide the nations. Kashmir is one of these issues, but as much a consequence as a cause of the rivalry.

    Can India and Pakistan resolve their many territorial and identity issues? Perhaps the best they can expect in the near term is a limited degree of normalization, including bottom-up ideas generated by the peace and business communities, as well as a realistic assessment by strategic elites of the two states' shared common interests.

    "Right now, full normalization seems unlikely," Cohen writes in the preface, "so this book is suffused with conditional pessimism: normalization would be desirable, but there are worse futures than a projection of the present rivalry for another thirty years or more."

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-2187-1
    Subjects: Political Science, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvii-xvii)
  5. Map
    (pp. xviii-xviii)
  6. CHAPTER ONE Context
    (pp. 1-32)

    Since emerging as independent states in 1947, Pakistan and India have been engaged in one of the world’s most complex and sharply contested rivalries. It is as long-lived as the Israeli-Palestinian-Arab dispute. Though the two states are similar in many ways, not least in their cultural closeness, they began with a basic clash of national identities, soon followed by border and territorial disputes. Each then went on to support separatist elements in the other country. Now, after four wars and numerous crises, they are nuclear rivals, and a deep and near-permanent diplomatic hostility shapes their relations with the rest of...

  7. CHAPTER TWO Conflicts
    (pp. 33-59)

    Physicists jest that often their theories fail to predict the results of experiments or their results fail to make theoretical sense, but that most experiments simply fail and no one knows why. The partition of India and Pakistan can be seen as a great experiment in political and human engineering that in large part went awry, with the successor states still trying to cope. Most of the key players in this gigantic drama assumed that the worst would not happen. With goodwill and common sense, problems could be managed over time. The worst did happen, and there has been a...

  8. CHAPTER THREE India
    (pp. 60-87)

    Indian attitudes toward normalization with Pakistan have always been complex—sometimes a euphemism for confused. Few other issues have generated as deep a conflict between Indian adherence to cherished ideals on the one hand, and hard military, economic, and political realities on the other.

    Most Indian leaders opposed the creation of Pakistan on the grounds of principle—a Muslim, let alone an “Islamic,” country flew in the face of the ideal of a unified, secular state. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who steered India until his death in 1964, was the chief proponent of this view, and he was not shy...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR Pakistan
    (pp. 88-117)

    The question of whether Pakistan will ever be willing to forge closer ties with its neighbor revolves in large part around its views about regional conflict. Pakistani thinking in this regard differs from Indian attitudes in three important ways. First, Pakistan takes a more “ideological” approach, in the sense that it justifies its existence and policies on the grounds of the need for an Islamic state and a homeland for an oppressed minority—Indian Muslims.¹ Many minorities seek rights and independence without the umbrella of an ideology but base their actions on the Wilsonian principle of self-determination. Furthermore, many states...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE Explanations
    (pp. 118-146)

    As may be clear by now, the complexities of attitudes on the subcontinent make it very difficult to pinpoint the causes of the India-Pakistan rivalry. From the huge literature on Kashmir, it seems a prime source, but that line of thinking is like arguing that the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is primarily a struggle over Jerusalem—it is, but it is not. Also, factors that may have contributed to the origins of the rivalry can be muted, transformed, or displaced, and subsequently different explanations may fit better. For example, the vivid memories of partition that affected two generations of Indians and Pakistanis...

  11. CHAPTER SIX Prospects
    (pp. 147-178)

    In 1947 no one seemed to envisage a protracted conflict between the two new states of India and Pakistan. Today their inability to resolve disputes is widely acknowledged to be a tragic failure, and the prospects for full normalization are not bright. There could be further warfare, the absence of normal trade hurts both countries, they are culturally cut off from each other, and their substantial nuclear weaponry changes the nature of the dispute—it is no longer merely a regional matter. Despite the poor prospects, unofficial, nongovernmental, and outside attempts to resolve specific India-Pakistan disputes have not been abandoned,...

  12. CHAPTER SEVEN American Interests and Policies
    (pp. 179-196)

    Many Americans believe that the India-Pakistan dispute is both inevitable and unsolvable, that it reflects the immaturity, deep cultural differences, or racial or geopolitical qualities of these two states. On the contrary, this is not a hopeless dispute, although engagement requires more than a simplistic understanding of its causes. Moreover, the United States can do little directly to address the core identity and strategic disputes between the two states, but it can do much indirectly.

    The prime virtue of recent U.S. policy—summarized as “dehyphenation”—was that it abandoned symmetry; however, it could not cope directly with India-Pakistan quarrels. The...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 197-224)
  14. Index
    (pp. 225-236)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 237-238)