India, Pakistan and Kashmir

Stephen P. Cohen
Stephen P. Cohen
Stephen P. Cohen Former Brookings Expert

December 1, 2002

India has for several years been regarded as an emerging or rising state. After decades of unfulfilled promise, it now seems to be inching ahead, with more rapid economic growth, new attention from the major powers, and the development of a modest nuclear arsenal. These adding these developments to India’s traditional strengths—a unique and persistent democracy and an influential culture—it is no wonder that many have predicted the emergence of India as a major Asian power, or even a world-class state. However, this remains a problematic development as long as India’s comprehensive and debilitating rivalry with Pakistan continues, including that dimension of the rivalry that encompasses the fifty-year old Kashmir dispute.

Further, the India-Pakistan conflict is now especially alarming because it has implications for the international system itself. The region is the site and the source, of some of the world’s major terrorist groups. Aside from Al Qaeda, these include a number of groups based in or tolerated by Pakistan, and India itself has tolerated or encouraged various terrorist groups operating in nearby states, and has its own internal terrorist problem quite apart from Kashmir. India and Pakistan have fought three wars in Kashmir and their conflict now contains the seeds of a nuclear holocaust. This chapter attempts a deeper probe of the India-Pakistan relationship, including the difficulties that India faces in managing, let alone resolving, the Kashmir dispute.