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India-Pakistan Relations Through the Lens of Realism

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: International Relations
Wordcount: 1625 words Published: 20th Feb 2019

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India and Pakistan have had many conflicts in their relationship because of the multitude of problems in the political sphere throughout history leading to their current state of affairs. To best understand the relationship between the countries, I used realism as a theory of international relations through the examples of the Battle of Kashmir and the riots of 1947 during the Partition of India. India and Pakistan both have associations  through the cultures, history and also economic and geographic issues.  Therefore, these two states have led themselves to high tensions, making their relations unpredictable and in some cases destructive.

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In International Relations, there are many ideas that influence the theory of Realism, but the one idea that stands out is that states are generally only worried about themselves and the issues that only involve them. Realists have a higher regard for issues such as security and national interests instead of ethics or ideals.When it comes to dealing with others, whether it is regarding war or any other issue, it is only for one reason and that is because they are in the struggle for power. Ever since the Post-World War II era started, Realism has been known to be the leading theory in International Relations. In world politics, Realism stresses the idea that state is the main actor. Usually, Realists have the view that conflicts with other nations are needed and these conflicts are to be conclusively dealt with by war.

The partition of 1947, was a period of time involving unrest and violence. In 1947, India and Pakistan had separated and became their own countries. Pakistan was predominantly Muslim while India was majority Hindu.  Before the partition, there weren’t many acts of violence between the three main religions of Sikhs, Muslims, and Hindus, the Partition changed that. Countless acts of sexual violence towards women and slaying of families became a result of this Partition. “Some seventy-five thousand women were raped, and many of them were then disfigured or dismembered…… By 1948, as the great migration drew to a close, more than fifteen million people had been uprooted, and between one and two million were dead (The New Yorker, 2015).” Punjab had been split in half between India and Pakistan because of the Partition and this is where most of the violent acts on women and families happened. However, after the long lasting struggle, India and Pakistan did gain their independence in August of 1947.

Some of the reasons for the Partition of India were “Mohammed Ali Jinnah, leader of the Muslim League, simply wished to use the demand for a separate state as a bargaining chip to win greater power for Muslims within a loosely federated India (BBC, 2011).” Also, “One explanation for the chaotic manner in which the two independent nations came into being is the hurried nature of the British withdrawal (BBC, 2011).” These reasonings behind the Partition makes gives me a sense of a Realism perspective because the definition of a Realist in International Relations is        “ Realists consider the principal actors in the international arena to be states, which are concerned with their own security, act in pursuit of their own national interests, and struggle for power (Stanford Philosophy, 2013).” Mohammed Ali Jinnah wanted to win a greater power for the Muslim people so this move to have their own country would get that for them. Sadly, this didn’t happen without the tragedies of tons of people.

Since the Partition of India was in 1947, this leads right into our next topic. The Battle of Kashmir dates back to 1947 as well. Even after India and Pakistan had formed into their own countries, there was still an issue of having hundreds of states that were within these two countries that were lead by Monarchs. These states could decide which country they wanted to be apart of or they could also choose to stay by themselves and they would make the decision by having the people vote. Many of these Monarchs wanted to stay independent but they had to stick with the decisions of the people and go with what they wanted. During this time, “Maharaja Hari Singh was the ruler of Kashmir, which had the option to choose either country to join because of the location of Kashmir. The only issue about Hari Singh, was that he was Hindu while all of his people were Muslim (Daily O, 2015).” In order to keep the issue calm, he decided to just stay and not join either. However, this did not last very long, “ his hopes of remaining independent were dashed in October 1947, as Pakistan sent in Muslim tribesmen who were knocking at the gates of the capital Srinagar. Hari Singh appealed to the Indian government for military assistance and fled to India. He signed the Instrument of Accession, ceding Kashmir to India on October 26 (The Telegraph, 2001).”

India and Pakistan ended up going to war over Kashmir, however, this was only the first time. After India went to the United Nations for help, they decided they would leave it to the people of Kashmir to vote for their own. They ended up going to war on four  different occasions and still have battles to this day. The fact that India and Pakistan have gone to four wars, that alone shows how important and significant  Kashmir is. Realism considers Security as a major priority, and for India, if they were to claim Kashmir it would be very resourceful security wise for them against China and Pakistan. It serves as “ a barrier to the philosophy of Pakistan Government which could threaten India’s internal security (aarcentre, 2016).” Kashmir is very important for either country because of its economic benefits as well. The amount of revenue they can get from tourism of Kashmir would be a huge factor. “As for Pakistan it is vital for its security zone as well the presence of two major roads and railway network in the border help to strengthen its economy (aarcentre, 2016).

As far as Realism goes in the Battle of Kashmir, power is shown by India by the fact that after getting its independence, many states chose to join them. Another instance of Realism in the Battle, was when India supported Hari Singh. When the Pakistani troops showed up to Kashmir and tried to take over, India backed him up without hesitating. However, India had a reason behind it, which was that they would be in good standing with Hari Singh. Which is exactly how it worked out, Hari Singh ended up signing Kashmir over to India soon after that. This shows that India only stepped in for their own personal benefits and as a Realist would say, for their “struggle of power.”

India shows their sense of Realism once again as well when Pakistan wanted to go to the UN to solve the issue. India played a trick on them by saying they should just negotiate between themselves, but then soon after that they went to the UN themselves asking them to step in. This made it look like India was concerned about the people of Kashmir which made them look better to the United Nations. This shows the Realist standpoint of doing whatever it takes for the struggle of power.

Through the examples of The Battle of Kashmir, and the Partition of India and the riots during the time, Realism helped me understand the relationship between India and Pakistan throughout the years.Using The Partition of India, Realism was shown through the leader of the Muslim League Jinnah, because he wanted to separate from the loose Indian government and have more power for his own Muslim people. During this movement, an estimated 1-2 million people had died and about 15 million people had to relocate their homes. Lastly, The Battle of Kashmir showed us the Realism perspective through the many ways Kashmir would have brought security and money and power into the countries. India showed us their Realist views by doing whatever was needed to gain their power by supporting Hari Singh even though they had their own intentions in mind. They also showed a fake side by going to the UN and making themselves look better after recently telling the Pakistani government that no one needs to intervene and the  best to solve the issue is by negotiating within themselves.

Works Cited

“A Brief History of the Kashmir Conflict.” The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, 24 Sept. 2001. Web. 09 Apr. 2017.

Alam, Mohd. Shekaib, Muhammet Ali Guler, and Moyenul Hasan. “KASHMIR CONFLICT BETWEEN INDIA AND PAKISTAN: A REALIST PERSPECTIVE.” Journal of Asian and African Social Science and Humanities (ISSN 2413-2748). N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Apr. 2017.

“BBC – History – British History in Depth: The Hidden Story of Partition and Its Legacies.” BBC News. BBC, n.d. Web. 09 Apr. 2017.

Dalrymple, William. “The Mutual Genocide of Indian Partition.” The New Yorker. The New Yorker, 21 June 2015. Web. 09 Apr. 2017.

Khajuria, Manu. “Hari Singh Was More than a Hindu King Who Ruled over a Muslim Majority State.” DailyO – Opinion News & Analysis on Latest Breaking News India. Living Media India Limited, 21 Sept. 2015. Web. 09 Apr. 2017.

Korab-Karpowicz, W. Julian. “Political Realism in International Relations.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Stanford University, 26 July 2010. Web. 09 Apr. 2017.


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