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Mainstream, VOL LVI No 14 New Delhi March 24, 2018

Rival Neighbouring States and Indo-Pak Relations: Geopolitics and Diplomacy

Friday 23 March 2018

by Binay Kumar Malik and Ashok Kumar Sahay

1. Introduction 

The South Asian sub-system in the field of international politics has assumed greater importance because of the hostile relationship before the two nuke adversaries, India and Pakistan. The diplomacy of India and Pakistan has been extremely competitive from the very inception. Scholars and think-tanks have already focused much attention on Indo-Pak diplomacy. But, we have yet to throw adequate light on the innovative concept: “The art of diplomacy”.

 This is humble attempt to conceptualise and theorise the term: “The art of diplomacy”. This concept would also apply with its all its ramifications to the entire gamut of Indo-Pak relations. However, this theoretical construct would be immensely useful for the study of diplomacy. The wider implication and full import of this theoretical construct would take into account the totality of their bilateral relationship on regional and multi-lateral issues.

The theory and practice of the art of diplomacy is based on the security consi-derations, threat perceptions and strategic concern of India and Pakistan. Therefore, the art of diplomacy begins and ends with the question of security. The art of diplomacy and security perception are two sides of the same coin. The art of diplomacy is designed to deal with the complex issues of security and diplomacy simultaneously. However, this work is an unique attempt to bring about harmonious combination between the question of security and diplomacy which is synthesised in the concept of “the art of diplomacy”.

2. Security and Threat Perception

Security, essentially a negative term, which implies the absence of real or perceived threats whether stemming from external sources and internal troubles or incumbent economic disparities or inequalities of certain coveted values. To cope with perceived threats nations tend to seek power hoping that power alone may ensure the desired level of security. A nation’s ability to attain an adequate level of security may, in turn, breed insecurity for other nations. Insecurity would compel other nations to acquire more power in order to tilt the scale in their own favour. Against this background, it is time to take a closer look at the art of diplomacy not as a principle to be approved or condemned but as a practice to be defined, described and analysed.

It has already been suggested that the art of diplomacy may be distinguished from ordinary diplomacy by resort to direct threats or converting the act of threat. But, this distinction needs to be made more precise. The language employed by many governments in their routine exchange could reasonably be called threatening without necessarily being coercive. To be coerce, a threat must be more than a generalised prediction of disastrous consequences, however plausible in the indeterminate future. It must express readiness to do something harmful to the interest of another government unless that government either takes or desists or refrains from taking some indicated course of action.

It must also constitute a clear departure from the established part of relations between two governments concerned. For instance, all the nuclear weapon states maintain missiles aiming at one another. From time to time, they reiterate their determination to fire those missiles if they or in some cases, their allies, are attacked. This in itself is a threat of utmost gravity, which is specific and is sufficient art of negation that can be described as a deterrent. But it is not the art of diplomacy, it is not related to any particular dispute, but a standing feature of an established pattern of implicit coercion.

On other hand, the news of October 1973 that US nuclear forces had been placed on alert (DEFCONIII) was the art of diplomacy (an overt act as well as a threat) because it was an exceptional measure clearly related to the US-Soviet dispute over the Arab-Israel war and obviously meant to compel the Soviet Union to refrain from its apparent intention of sending troops to the Middle East.

3. Geopolitics of Rival Neighbouring States

The geopolitics of two more rival states sharing their border is the most extreme form of the art of diplomacy and its inherently dangerous character and because it comes at the boundary where incursions take place; it is here that diplomacy, even in the broadest sense of the word, ends and war begins. War is a violent conflict between states in which policy is determined by the desire to inflict injury rather than the hope of positive advantage. In peace-time, governments have to explain why they have injured foreigners, in war, why they do not have to. The art of diplomacy, on the other hand, is intended to obtain some specific advantage from another state and forfeiture of its diplomatic character if it contemplates the infliction of injury. The art of diplomacy is, therefore, an alternative to war and if it leads to war, we must not only hold that it has failed, we may even doubt whether it ever deserved the name. The threat or the use of armed force, however, is only the dramatic tip of the iceberg, the case of the art of diplomacy.

Most applications are less sensational, depending on the nature of the dispute and relationship between the two countries concerned. In 1945, the US withheld aid from the governments, committed under treaty, because the British opinion on Indo-China was not to the liking of the USA. However, this was an exercise of the art of diplomacy because it was a specific threat to do something injurious to the interests of other governments unless they refrained from an indicated course of action in a particular dispute. Whatever method is adopted for negation, the art of diplomacy is normally exercised by one government against another. In the light of these arguments and examples, the following definition may be suggested: The art of diplomacy is resort to specific threats or to injurious action other than an act of war, in order to secure advantage or to avert loss.

The Art of Diplomacy and New World Order:

If two nations cannot coerce, then their diplomacy works without the use of force. This statement is based on the fundamental premise of the Realistic Theory of International Politics. To achieve national interest, as Realistic Theoreticians believe, the nation-states need power. Much in a similar vein, diplomacy must be duly backed by force to achieve the objectives of foreign policy. Therefore, diplomacy as an instrument of foreign policy, when backed by force or coercion, becomes “the art of diplomacy”. Quite justifiably, we conclude that as a heuristic device, the art of diplomacy is studied on the edifice of “Realistic Theory”.

Moreover, this is an attempt to build a full-fledged theory of “the art of diplomacy” by applying it to Indio-Pak bilateral relations, with their formidable conventional and nuclear weapons arsenals with support of empirical data. To put this theory on a proper perspective, an attempt is made to examine scientifically and digitally the “the art of diplomacy”. In precise terms, the new world order is intended to investigate and ascertain the how “the art of diplomacy” of India and Pakistan can work in the context of traditional and modern weapons stockpiles including nuclear weapons.

Thus “the art of diplomacy” is extremely relevant in the contemporary context of the ongoing Indo-Pak conflict. The arch rivals are maintaining their foreign policy approaches and defence strategies by adopting “the art of diplomacy”. Accordingly, their national interest and foreign policy objectives based on conven-tional and modern weapon systems including nuclear weapons, have to be worked out. To strengthen the theory of “the art of diplomacy” it is necessary to undertake a scientific and digital context of all strategic modern weapons acquired by India and Pakistan from “push-bottom foreign policy or digital foreign policy”.

Contrary to the general view, there is a suggestion that India and Pakistan work out a freeze in their acquisition of modern strategic weapons including nuclear weapons. However, their skills of negation dictates that both the adversaries maintain status-quo in the areas of weapon systems.

A. In precise terms, the objective of the art of diplomacy is to prevent war and promote bilateral trade and business between India and Pakistan which ultimately contributes to their economic growth in today’s world of Globali-sation and Liberalisation.

B. Further, without jeopardising the defence needs of India and Pakistan, “the art of diplomacy” can be used as a framework for “crisis management”.

C. This model of diplomacy also facilitates conflict-resolution between India and Pakistan.

The art of diplomacy is the most appropriate concept to properly account for the entire gamut of Indo-Pak relations since independence except for the brief interregnum of three full-scale wars. The present work is an endeavour to concep-tualise such a no-war-no-peace scenario between two arch-rivals of the South Asian sub-system. This theoretical construct would be immensely useful for the study of diplomacy. The wider ramifications and full import of this theoretical construct would take into account the totality of their bilateral, regional and multilateral relationship of the last sixtyfive years.

Dr Malik is a former Assistant Professor of Political Science, Bhagat Singh College, University of Delhi. Dr Sahay is a Research Scholar at the Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi.

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