The root of instability in South Asia | Pakistan Today

The root of instability in South Asia

  • The Indo-Pak rivalry

By Sadia Atta

South Asia is a region of great importance because of its strategic location and emerging economies. But it is facing problems. Harmony and solidarity in South Asia is threatened due to interstate disputes and lack of trust among the regional countries. The interstate conflicts among the regional countries are the major hurdles for stability in the region. The instability in South Asia is mainly due to the hostilities between India and Pakistan.

Since after their Partition, the relationship between Pakistan and India has tended to hostility which is threatening the stability of the region. A number of historical and political events led to their hostile relations. The violent Partition and various territorial claims overshadowed their relationship. They have antagonistic relations due to reasons like the border, water, territorial, ideological issues and many more. A look at history shows that Mountbatten did not correctly distribute the lands between India and Pakistan: according to the Radcliffe Commission, the Gurdaspur district which had a Muslim majority was awarded to Pakistan but Mountbatten changed its status and gave it to India. So due to this improper distribution, peaceful coexistence diminished. Apart from this, both states faced water issues with each other. India stopped the flow of water that went to Pakistan due to which Pakistan faced agricultural problems but then the Indus Water Treaty was established between them. According to this agreement, authority over the flowing of water in three “western” rivers of Punjab– the Jhelum, the Chenab and the Indus– was awarded to Pakistan whereas power over the flowing of water in three “eastern” rivers of India– the Sutlej, the Ravi and the Beas– was awarded to India. But recently the clash of the Indus Water Treaty and the Baglihar Dam is creating tension between the two states.

Moreover, the major issue between the two countries is over Kashmir. It is a territorial issue over which several wars have been fought. It forms another principal factor of political uncertainty in South Asia. The Kashmir issue is still unresolved in international politics. The Kashmir issue cannot be resolved until the two states themselves resolve the issue through peaceful dialogue, not through war. But more importantly, the involvement of international actors will play an active part in resolving this issue.

The relationship between Pakistan and India is a significant source of concern and conflict within the region. Their relations are based on a security dilemma which makes them nuclear powers. Both states are in competition with each other due to which they have increased their nuclear arsenals for security. If a war occurred between them, it would have devastating impact on the entire region. According to the realist school of thought, both states are maximising their powers by building nuclear weapons. Nuclearisation of South Asia threatens to the region, as conflicts between India and Pakistan are dangerous for the security of the rest of the states of the region.

The international players should come forward and play an active part in resolving this issue. Although South Asia lags behind in economic development, it has huge potential in terms of resources and markets. Bilateral trade mainly between Pakistan and India will boost the region’s economy. The disputes cannot be solved through wars but through negotiations and talks

The South Asian region is economically poor and the regional countries are involved in conflicts with one another. The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was created to increase mutual cooperation among the regional countries in social, economic and political areas, to promote self-reliance among the regional countries, to make the SAARC countries a free trade zone and eliminate poverty from this region and to promote peace and stability in the region, but this organisation failed in achieving its objectives due to the inter-state disputes and lack of cooperation among the regional countries. The hostile relations between India and Pakistan was the main reason for the failure of SAARC due to which SAARC summits have often broken down. The international actors also played an important role for the failure of SAARC.

As this region is strategically important for the international community, the international actors, like China and the USA, have allied with Pakistan and India for their own interests, like economic corridors and defence agreements which further increased the arms race between Pakistan and India which threatened the peace of the region.

The detrimental relations and a number of conflicts between Pakistan and India results in the instability of South Asia. The increased militant attacks from both sides threatened the regional peace. The South Asian region faced security challenges due to the bilateral connection between India and Pakistan. There is increase in extremist and terrorist activities. Due to this, there is lack of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the region. The India-Pakistan rivalry became the hurdle for the regional development. Their bilateral relations are always a source of hindrance for the economic development of the region.

Thus, all regional countries need to put their differences aside and should cooperate with each other to promote harmony and stability in the region. Tis cannot be achieved without peace between Pakistan and India. Peace and solidity are important for the regional development. The inter-state clashes need to be solved through mutual collaboration. The Kashmir dispute cannot be resolved bilaterally by India and Pakistan alone. It can be solved with an active participation by international actors.

The international players should come forward and play an active part in resolving this issue. Although South Asia lags behind in economic development, it has huge potential in terms of resources and markets. Bilateral trade mainly between Pakistan and India will boost the region’s economy. The disputes cannot be solved through wars but through negotiations and talks.

The writer can be reached at [email protected]



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