Following the recent July 2015 terrorist attacks in Gurdaspur and the cancellation of the first ever NSA level talks between India and Pakistan, both countries have yet again locked horns drawing attention to the escalating tension between the two most important South Asian nations.
The diplomatic ties between India and Pakistan have since its inception been a prey to occasional skirmishes and military standoffs. After the formation of both the countries in 1947, attempts at building a healthy bilateral relationship have always suffered in the hands of general mistrust, territorial disputes, terrorist invasions and various conspiracy theories. A part of the problem can be diagnosed if placed within the context of Pakistan’s domestic politics, which because of the way it has developed around networks of kingship and patronage has made an effective foreign policy with India a herculean task. As suggested by Lieven in his recent book Pakistan: A hard country-“Pakistan is a negotiated state where institutions and political entitles constantly broke their authority in light of the elaborate system of patronage”. This goes on to show how Pakistan’s inconsistent foreign policy serving the interest of varied domestic actors from time to time, is a major obstacle to a comprehensive stand in relation to the Indian subcontinent. Apart from standing border issues and the territorial demands over Kashmir, Pakistan’s proximity to China has also been a major irritant with regard to India’s standing in the region. Pakistan’s obstinate push for China’s membership in the SAARC and its continuous refusal to co-operate with any of SAARC’s agreements, has also derailed major initiatives taken by India to resuscitate SAARC as an effective forum in general and initiate greater regional movement and trade in particular. The idea of “SAARC minus 1” is hence gaining prominence among the foreign diplomats and academicians with Prime Minister himself reiterating that “regional integration would go ahead through SAARC or outside of it, among all of us or some of us” in the 18th SAARC Summit held in Kathmandu . Though the idea seems like a probable solution to temporarily revive a slowly dying forum, no permanent progress in the region is possible without bringing Pakistan to the table. Given its geo-strategic position, its cultural composition and the presence of some affluent rogue elements within the state, a South Asia thriving towards regional stability and prosperity without Pakistan inherently appears to be a risky venture.