The Kashmir Conflict and the India-Pakistan Rivalry

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Efforts to provide a resolution to the rivalry between India and Pakistan have so far been unproductive. The disagreement has resulted in a fortified insurgence in Kashmir leading to the formation of the Kashmir conflict. Wyman argues that the enmity between Indo-Pak republics is among the most long-lasting rivalry in the history of the South Asia (cited in Paul, 2005, p. 81).

Though both nations have advocated for the discourse over the Kashmir conflict, consensual talks have been interrupted for reasons such as the removal of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) militaries from Afghanistan and Kashmir, recurring tensions, and religious diversity.

In this regard, it is valid to claim that the determination of the Kashmir conflict cannot put an end to the India-Pakistan rivalry. In addition, according to realist, the rivalry cannot end because of the absence of any comparative benefits for Pakistan and presence of potential reduction of regional power for India. For constructivist, diverse culture and religious beliefs between India and Pakistan result in the major drawbacks to the ending of Indo-Pak rivalry.

Recurring Tension

Ceasefire initiatives intended for a diplomatic, communally tolerable resolution to the Kashmir disagreement have been dominated by an endless interferences and disturbances from within the conflicting rivals and the Kashmiris. Regular tensions between India and Pakistan have elicited numerous terror attacks.

For instance, the Mumbai terror attack of 2008 increased the tension between the conflicting countries to an extent that the likelihood of warfare was openly chattered about by the two nations. Gupta, Kalyanaraman, and Behuria (2009, p. 319) posit that before the terror attack, India and Pakistan had indicated emblems of status quo and complex dialogue over precarious issues were at the latter stages. There was optimism that the Pakistan military which was unknown under the leadership of Musharraf’s had retreated and the new government offered insights to India-Pakistan smooth relations (Gupta, Kalyanaraman and Behuria, 2009, p. 319).

Moreover, the rivalry has been escalated by inconsequential occurrences such as firing across Line of Control (LoC) (Hussain et al., 2019, p. 78). Current occurrences between the two militaries disclose how solitary infringements have come to threaten the general operation and peaceful relations in India and Pakistan. Furthermore, it has created more military related tension between the two conflicting nations making any form of trying to end the rivalry challenging.

The parliament as of 2009 passed a common determination by reproving the killing of Afzal Guru through hanging. Subsequently, in India, a similar unanimous decision from both houses was agreed upon which restated that Jammu and Kashmir were an “integral part of India”. Such order of actions is typical of the escalatory dynamic that so often symbolizes India-Pakistan relations. In this sense, the recurring tensions reduced the desire for peace among the population of the Kashmir Valley and in Pakistan, and have reinforced the opinion of those that are certain that a diplomatic resolution of Kashmir can result in termination of the India-Pakistan rivalry.

Withdrawal of US and NATO Troops from Afghanistan and Kashmir

Concerns have been made on the eventual withdrawal of US armies from Afghanistan. There is fear that such withdrawals will result in another incumbent war and Kashmir may become the fighting group for both India and Pakistan. For instance, the development of al-Qaeda upon the removal of Soviet militaries from Afghanistan in late 1989 is a prime example of the state became a battle group for two rival nations.

However, Sohrab (2017) claims that due to no direct history of Afghanistan fighters becoming members of the Kashmir insurgency, the chances of Kashmir being the battleground for India and Pakistan after the US armies’ withdrawal is limited. Hence, fear and panic are based on the possibility of the distraction of attention from the aboriginal political movement within the Kashmir state which entirely depends on how Kashmir and Afghanistan would manage their stability upon such a withdrawal.

There is the potential development of a divergent challenge in a case where the withdrawal of ISAF troops is successful. For instance, the rivalry between India and Pakistan over the contending roles in Afghanistan may lead to more tensions between the two nations, subsequently affecting the peace process witnessed in Kashmir over the years. According to Shahid, Khan and Munir (2020, p. 1468), Pakistan has been apprehensive over the evolving power India has over Afghanistan.

Conversely, India has voiced its trepidation over Pakistan’s impending role in the Afghan Land. In essence, India’s security and regional stability and power could adversely be jeopardized if the influence of Pakistan makes Afghan land a terrorist-run state. In this regard, even with a resolution of the Kashmir conflict, the rivalry between India and Pakistan is far reaching due to its multifaceted challenges and components of the rivalry.

Shimla Agreement

Several reconciliations have been established between the two conflicting nations without success. Contrary to the UN-administered ceasefire of 1948, one of the renowned bilateral relations between the officials of both countries, attempting to inaugurate a reconciliatory process was the Shimla Agreement of 1972 (Chowdhury, 2020).

The Shimla Agreement’s main agenda was to oversee a harmonious working relationship between India and Pakistan, through the initiation of enduring peace and development of greater South Asia (Chowdhury, 2020). However, according to Krepton (2004, p. 156), the two nations have had several differences over the interpretation of the Shimla Agreement. Wirsing (1994, p. 63) posits that even though India has been insisting on the validity of Pakistan claims on the Shimla Agreement.

Pakistan has vehemently contended that there is a need for settlement addressing the self-control of the Kashmiris, which India does not welcome conclusively (Chawla et al., 2016, p. 3). Such disagreement derails the efforts for peaceful India-Pakistan working relations.

Both parties have expressed the drive to resolve the Kashmir conflict on several attempts. However, neither India nor Pakistan has been prepared to make any significant concessions over minor issues such as the Shimla Agreement (Chowdhury, 2020). Besides, there have been other numerous failed agreements such as the Siachen glacier which lasted over more than five years (1986-1992), descriptive evidence of the nations’ incompetence to end any rivalry between them. Schofield (2000) highlights the existence of various bilateral meetings which have ended inconclusively because of both nations attaching themselves to their initial positions (p. 226).

In this regard, the illustrations point to the trajectory of the nations’ stands even with the possibility of a resolution over the Kashmir conflict. However, to comprehend the possible reasons why the rivalry between India and Pakistan might not end even with an agreement over the Kashmir conflict, theoretical arguments form the major part of the conceptualization of the argument.

Theoretical Perspective on the Enduring India-Pakistan Rivalry

Realist Perspective

Different theories exist on the understanding of the concept of rivalry between India and Pakistan apart from the overarching Kashmir conflict. According to Rajagopalan (2005), the origin and progress of rivalry between conflicting states are completely exogenously motivated, and each nation’s interest is conjointly antagonistic and viewed as the first action to be taken. About this concept, realist interprets the rivalry between India-Pakistan as a conflict beyond any endogenous motives relating to the Kashmir conflict. Precisely, realist interprets the behavior of the rivalry as based on the diverging interests rather than the Kashmir conflict.

The interpretation of the rivalry between India-Pakistan is a prime example of regional conflict which has undergone numerous wars and widespread insecurities. If state power is to be regarded as a core value to the end of rivalry, then India’s capacities supersede Pakistan and should have taken over the control of both Kashmir and Pakistan. For instance, the financial and army influence of India is superior compared to Pakistani’s.

Besides, there are extensive differences between the index of the national power of India in comparison to Pakistan with regards to the Gross domestic product and the expenditure on the militia. Furthermore, both nations are boarded by a more superior country in China, with a more GDP and defense forces; still, china has never succeeded in forging any working relationship between the two rival nations (Nazer, 2018). Instead, the formation of a balance of power among the South Asian countries acts to deter any rival nations from succeeding the other.

The South Asia economic and treaties formation and alliances are providing negative effects to the advancement of rivalry resolutions between India and Pakistan. For instance, extra-regional alliances such as India and the former Soviet Union and the alliance between Pakistan and the US functions to deteriorate any form stop to the rivalry (Shahid, Khan and Munir, 2020, p. 1478).

The result is the nation’s overreliance to the alliance to the point that they cannot form their own treaties to end any conflict. For example, the concept of the Shimla Agreement and any other Treaties formed between India and Pakistan has no significance in the face of the realist because all end in meaningless resolutions.

End of Indo-Pak rivalry is depended upon comparative benefits and actual degree of state supremacy. According to the realist, the working relation hinges on the demand for comparative benefits concerning the conflict within them (Qumber, Ishaque and Shah, 2017, p. 69). Pakistan will never sign a treaty that they do not find any gain, whereas India will not cooperate into any form of treaties that would see them have their regional power reduced.

In this regard, rivalry and conflict over Kashmir will continue since the two nations can neither forge a treaty because of lack of trust and the unwillingness to have powers lowered. According to Michael (2017), the existence of bilateral relation which is not conducive to harmony or peaceful working relation through any means of institutional setting is showcased by the failure of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Therefore, both nations are projected to remain within their current hostility, coupled with the formation of South Asia alliances through tension creation and military threats even if a resolution to the Kashmir conflict is forged.

For the realist, the presence of the emerging defense budgets by the two states and the development of the nuclear and missile programs is an indication of the place of “Power” within the nations’ rivalries. For instance, the acquisition of nuclear weapons by the two nations is not only based on the balance of testing capacities, but also on the strategic settings of the bilateral conflicts and the formation of alliances which exists within the South Asia countries (Qumber, Ishaque and Shah, 2017, p. 78). The reason for India’s quest for upgrading its military is to keep in control Pakistan and to attain its status quo.

Constructivist Perspective

The interpretation of culture and religion (Identity) with regards to the rivalry between India and Pakistan plays an important role. According to Alexander Wendt (1999), “the deep structure of anarchy is a cultural or ideational rather than material phenomenon” (p. 43). The social norms created by the respective states dictate the structural belief and the long-term rivalry which exists between the two nations.

For constructivists, the rivalry in the Indo-Pak relations is not exogenously indomitable; but rather is contingent on each nation’s policies which are constitutive of particular beliefs because of divergent views on culture and religion (Michael, 2018). Precisely, the rivalry is because of giving a “cultural” understanding of the source and development of states.

In the view of the constructivists, Indo-Pak relations are diverse by description, for example, of their shared threats and terror attacks. Cohen (2005) posits that there is no particular construction of the “other” with regards to India and Pakistan based on the Hindu-nationalist in India and the Islamic nation of Pakistan.

Rather, Hindu and Muslim religious beliefs are diverse and can never co-exist in a solitary nation (Acharya, 2006, p. 162). Therefore, constructivist allude that change, whether in the form of Kashmir conflict resolution or any other, does not have a chance to exterminate the enduring Indo-Pak rivalry. In essence, what manifests between the rivalries of the two nations is the notion of a communal national heritage, which is practically constitutive of the antipathies and enmity in Indo-Pak relations.


In conclusion, even with Kashmir conflict resolve, the rivalry between India and Pakistan, according to realist arguments, cannot end because of the inability of Pakistan to find any comparative benefits to end the rivalry and the reduction of India’s regional supremacy. The varying culture and religious beliefs of Hindu and Muslim, based on constructivist perspective, offer a contesting challenge to the end of the rivalry. Besides, the existence of the numerous external and internal challenges derails such efforts.

The withdrawal of the US armies from Afghan and Kashmir lands, the frequent tensions and terror attacks emanating from domestic politics, religious affiliations, and insecurity between the two conflicting nations indicate an overarching rivalry. Using the concepts of realist-constructivism, the Indo-Pak rivalry will endure even with any form of reconciliation.

The relating influence and irregular opinions with endogenous arguments of nation’s distinctiveness, local state constructions, and diverse Hindu-Muslim religions allow for an amalgamated analysis of the India-Pakistan struggles. Therefore, the Indo-Pak rivalry is a principal illustration of a conflict of opposing; irresoluble distinctiveness and contrasting devout opinions in a realm in which supremacy and geo-strategy unvaryingly continue to rule.

Reference List

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DemoEssays. "The Kashmir Conflict and the India-Pakistan Rivalry." December 21, 2022.