Indo-Pakistani relations have generally been described as "endless conflict", but political scientist Christopher Clary says that characterization is grossly misleading. Clary made the comments on this week's episode of Grand Tamasha, a podcast co-produced by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Hindustan Times and hosted by Carnegie's Milan Vaishnav.
Clary is an assistant professor of political science at the University at Albany in the United States and the author of a landmark new book, The Difficult Politics of Peace: Rivalry in Modern South Asia, which means that the traditional Indo- Pak Ties overlooks a rich storied past of cooperation, dispute, struggle, and reconciliation that defies simple explanation.
“Leaders on both sides managed to realize a lot. We're paying attention to the things they haven't achieved," Clary explained, as was the dispute over cashmere. While some of the disputed borders were established in 1947, almost all of them are today. "The deal was fine in many factors in the relationship. There has been cooperation in many places to enforce the legislation... and now we have a serious flood situation in Pakistan and I would not be surprised at all if India and Pakistan discover a method to provide concrete help to the Pakistanis poor people affected by the incredible floods got better,” Clary said.
Clary previously served in the Office of the US Secretary of Defense, where she helped manage the India account. This experience, he said, had a critical impact on his career and prospects. Clary said this led him to the idea that the single most important variable shaping India-Pakistan relations was the primacy the leaders could (or could not) achieve over their own systems. According to Clary's ebook, the degree to which a state can respond to a strategic stimulus depends on the presence or absence of concentrated foreign political authority within a state, or "leadership primacy," as he puts it.
The centrality of concentrated executive power and its absence in Pakistan is the main reason why we have to be pessimistic about the short-term prospects for peace between India and Pakistan, says Clary. “If there is something that contradicts the primacy of the leader, it is the current situation in Pakistan. It is almost unimaginable for me to think of this system with the flexibility to hold negotiations with India…because every day it is about the politics of perpetual crisis,” Clary famously said. He compared this to the situation in India, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi has the "political capital within the Indian system to achieve tremendous things" even as he faces ideological challenges, from personal celebrations to aspirations for peace on the Indian mainland. Front pack.
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