NUCLEAR DETERRENCE OR DIPLOMACY: MANAGING THE INDIA-PAKISTAN CRISES

Farooque Ahmed Leghari, Ravichandran Moorthy

Abstract


Relations between the two ‘colonial cousins’ – India and Pakistan have been on an unstable footing since the partition in 1947. These countries have become more prone to war after their nuclearization programme, compared to their pre-nuclear era – making the geopolitical situation in South Asia very unstable. The proponents of ‘nuclear deterrence’ argue that it is this deterrence that has been successful in averting an all-out war between India and Pakistan, despite their five military crises between 1986-87 and 2008. Nevertheless, the opponents of ‘nuclear deterrence’ claim that through it had some psychological effect on the crises, it has failed to avert military engagement between India and Pakistan. This article argues that, despite the role of ‘nuclear deterrence’, it was the function of diplomacy which prevented these two nuclear states from engaging in all-out wars. In doing so, this article examines the role of nuclear deterrence and diplomacy in the five India-Pakistan crises. It finds that diplomacy has been more instrumental in averting wars and reducing tensions in times of crises than nuclear deterrence.


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