Home Contact Us  

India - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#4444, 19 May 2014

South Asian Dialectic

India-Pakistan Relations: Modiís Options
PR Chari
Visiting Professor, IPCS

How will Prime Minister designate Narendra Modi deal with Pakistan? He made a passing reference to China when he visited Arunachal Pradesh during the election campaign. An uncomplimentary mention of Bangladesh was also made as the major originating source of illegal immigrants, who will be speedily sent back home if the BJP came to power. But no reference to Pakistan was made, which is intriguing, given Modi’s RSS roots and earlier rhetoric lambasting “Miya Musharraf.” The BJP’s election manifesto, too, offers no clues. It commends a foreign policy based on pursuing friendly relations [with nations] “in our neighborhood… [and that] India shall remain a natural home for persecuted Hindus and they shall be welcome to seek refuge here.” Surprisingly, there is no evidence to discern Modi’s likely Pakistan policy. 

It would be the understatement of the year to notice that Modi’s coming to power in New Delhi has caused great anxiety in Pakistan’s ruling elite. Modi has repeatedly stressed that the need for development and reviving the economy are his main priorities. Foreign policy, one suspects, will be tailored to promoting these objectives. But, he is also seen as a primordial nationalist, and naturally hawkish towards Pakistan and China. Modi has sidelined practically all the senior leaders in the BJP, but praised Atal Behari Vajpayee for adopting a foreign policy that sought “peace and strength.” Still, this additional information is not very helpful in discovering Modi’s Pakistan policy.

It would therefore be useful to lay out India’s abiding apprehensions regarding Pakistan. The US State Department has noted in its Country Reports on Terrorism 2013 (April 2014) that: “Continued allegations of violations of the Line of Control between India and Pakistan, Pakistan’s failure to bring the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai attacks to justice, and activities of Pakistan-based terrorist groups remained serious concerns for the Indian government.” We can reasonably conclude that India’s major security concern with Pakistan arises from its support to cross-border militancy and terrorism.

The other threat from Pakistan arises from its testing the 60-km nuclear-capable short-range Hatf IX (NASR) missile, identified as a tactical nuclear weapon for battlefield use. Pakistan claims it would provide “full spectrum deterrence” by lowering the nuclear threshold.  What it signals is that if New Delhi should launch a conventional attack against Pakistan, say in response to a major terrorist strike, Islamabad could threaten a response with tactical nuclear weapons. India, thereafter, would need to mull over whether to proceed up the ladder of nuclear conflict, or restrict its response to the verbal level. How Modi will deal with this nuclear blackmail will be his earliest challenge.

Relations with Pakistan will have to cater for the inclinations of the RSS, which had massively deployed its manpower for Modi’s election campaign. Will they quietly withdraw into the background? Their minimum expectations would include “non-appeasement’’ of minorities inside India, and not making "concessions" to Islamic countries abroad. So, what are Modi’s options? Three are discernible:

• First, take seriously Pakistan’s professions that it wants to transform India-Pakistan relations from conflict to cooperation, invigorate the composite dialogue, and improve trade and people-to-people relations. More nuclear CBMs like Risk Reduction Centres could come on the table, apart from hardy perennials like the Siachen and Sir Creek disputes. But, these negotiations could only succeed if Pakistan is pressed by Washington and Beijing. They need to be convinced that Pakistan harbours the world’s major security problems - terrorism, Islamic fundamentalism, nuclear proliferation and state failure. 

• Second, proceed on the assumption that dealing with Pakistan is futile until it sets its own house in order. Demonstrably, Nawaz Sharif has no control over the Pakistani Army, or elements of Pakistan’s foreign policy, like relations with India, Kashmir or nuclear weapons. The Pakistani Army and the mullahs are the chief patrons of the Lashkar-e-Toiba, which they believe to be a strategic asset for use against India. They also, alongside Pakistan's terrorist groups, disfavour trade with India since it disrupts their basic agenda. Modi could undertake a cost-benefit analysis to see what are the opportunity casts in sidelining Pakistan while promoting  other aspects of  South Asian integration. 

• Third, proceed on the basis of strict reciprocity, and deal with Pakistan exactly as it deals with India. Be friendly when Pakistan is friendly, and nasty when it acts nasty. And, if Pakistan says one thing and does the opposite, do exactly the same. India has accommodated Pakistan far too long, for example in the Simla Agreement (1972), by initiating the Lahore Agreement (1992), and entering the Sharm-el Sheikh arrangement (2009) with its snide reference, “Pakistan has some information on threats in Balochistan and other areas.” In all these cases Pakistan pursued its own self-interests taking advantage of India’s good faith. How Modi will react to cross-border provocations needs an early and clear policy enunciation. 

Speculation is rife about who will be included in Modi’s Cabinet, and be his key bureaucrats, especially the next National Security Adviser. But, the buck stops with Modi. Which option will he choose in dealing with Pakistan?

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee

Related Articles
Kai FŁrstenberg,
"Modi: Perspectives from Europe," 16 May 2014

Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus

Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar

Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Obamaís New Strategy towards the Islamic State: Implications for India

Modiís Tryst with Abe

Thinking the Unthinkable: Promoting Nuclear Disarmament

The Enigmatic Case of Bowe Bergdahl

India and No First Use: The Doctrinal Conundrum

The Hague Nuclear Security Summit: Evaluating Major Achievements

India and Nuclear Terrorism: Meeting the Threat

Federalism: Centre as Coordinator and Adjudicator

The Yasukini Controversy: Global Implications

Can India be Cunning?

Limits of Federalism

Ten Years of Ceasefire along the LoC: An Evaluation

Technological Change and Security: Implications for India

India and the Failed States Index

India, Sri Lanka and the IPKF Debacle: Remembering 29 July 1987

Why Berlin is not Prague-II

Carnegie Nuclear Policy Conference 2013: Deterrence and Disarmament

Pakistan Elections 2013: Will things change?

India, Pakistan and the Nuclear Race: The Strategic Entanglement

India and Pakistan: The Kargil Redux

India and Pakistan: Political Fallouts and Larger Questions of the LoC Violations

Book Review: Implications of Asia's Rising Powers for the US

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2018
 January  February
 2017  2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010
 2009  2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002
 2001  2000  1999  1998  1997

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2018, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.