Review, India-Pakistan: Coming to Terms, By Amit Ranjan

India-Pakistan: Coming to Terms. Ashutosh Misra. Palgrave Macmillan Publications: New York, 2010. 288 pages. ISBN: 978-0-230-61937-1.

Lots of books, research articles and editorials focusing upon the need for good relations between India and Pakistan have been written, but the two South Asian, nuclear-armed neighbors are still adamantly hostile to each other. The root cause of their conflict is their claim and counter claim to the entire region of Jammu and Kashmir. They have even fought three full wars, one limited war and a series of proxy wars but are yet to resolve this issue. No formal or informal talks between India and Pakistan can be concluded without raising the subject of ‘Kashmir’. Thinking rationally, one feels that the two countries, for the time being, should put this issue into political cold storage and focus on other bilateral conflicts between them. In the event they resolve those issues they could apply the same mechanism and methods to address Kashmir. Ashutosh Misra’s work is a step in
that direction. Unlike others, he has tried to cautiously avoid the Kashmir issue and focuses upon the negotiations and dialogue process over resolved and nonresolved conflicts between India and Pakistan.

Leaving aside a detailed analysis of the Kashmir question, the author has talked about the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) of 1960, the Siachin dispute, the Sir Creek dispute, the Rann of Kutch and the Tulbul/ Wular barrage. On the basis of his research, Misra has described the conflict between the two as an “enduring conflict,” a term used by many, including T.V. Paul, to describe India-Pakistan dispute. But despite such disagreements, on certain issues both countries follow the defensive neo-realist dictum that even traditional rivals cooperate if they find that cooperation is in their mutual interest. The Indus Water Treaty of 1960 is one
such example.

The author has taken into account the theoretical aspects of negotiations, and talks about how negotiations proceed, about ripeness of the dispute, pre-negotiations, negotiation and agreement. India and Pakistan have followed this process but the
relationship is so delicate and complex that one untoward incident negates all the hard work done by an individual or group of individuals. Mr. Vajpayee’s and Nawaz Sharif’s intentions were mowed down by the Kargil episode, then Dr. Manmohan Singh’s and Pervez Musharraf’s step forward faltered due to Mumbai carnage. Once these types of incidents take place the relationship goes back to zero and for any further political engagement one has to start from scratch. There is an absolute lack of continuity in bilateral dialogue, which is a must for resolution of any ensuing conflict. . . .

(For the full version, please visit Pakistaniaat: A Journal of Pakistan Studies)