Abstract and Keywords
India’s most difficult foreign policy challenge has been Pakistan. At one level, the relationship has been managed reasonably well given the fundamental contradiction between India’s status quo-ist approach on Kashmir and Pakistan’s determination to alter the status quo. At another, Indian policy-makers’ inability to meet the challenge effectively reflects the constraints imposed by major policy choices. Jawaharlal Nehru opted for a set of ‘independent’ strategic and economic policies that congealed into ‘non-alignment’ and ‘self-sufficiency’. This left India militarily and economically weak and unable to counter Pakistan’s sustained bid to wrest Kashmir. A later set of choices encompasses failure to anticipate the consequences of Pakistan’s acquisition of nuclear capability, reluctance to match Islamabad’s asymmetric strategy of pressurizing India, and a tendency to slip back into the autonomy-oriented policy template of the Cold War era. Consequently, India’s capacity to fashion an optimal policy towards Pakistan continues to be significantly constrained.
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