INAF-431 South Asia: Issues of War/Peace
Fall for 2017-2018
South Asia has changed and so have the issues of war and peace there. The major drivers of change have been the end of the Cold war, the rise of globalization, the global Islamic revivalism and the post 9/11 US engagement in the region. The region has come to have great economic and strategic opportunities as evident from India’s rise yet it faces many new challenges to peace and prosperity such as religious extremism, terrorism, dangers of nuclear proliferation, narcotics, Afghanistan war, possible resurgence of the Taliban after the US withdrawal, and enhanced potential for regional instability. Yet the weight of the past oppresses the present as old conflicts lurk in the background overlapping with the new ones in the region. Kashmir issue remains unresolved keeping ever present the danger of war between India and Pakistan which could conceivably turn nuclear specially as the two countries have still not settled on stable nuclear doctrines and concepts of deterrence. And the historical tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan live on though at a lesser level of tensions.
Efforts by India and Pakistan to normalize their bilateral relations are ever threatened by acts of terrorism in India by sub state actors from across the border like the one in Mumbai in 2008. It will be interesting to see how Prime Minister Modi responds to any such attack in the future. As for Pakistan, its traditional security concerns relating to Afghanistan and India have merged, raising a fear of encirclement. Until a couple of years ago both Pakistan and India seemed to be engaged in a kind of re-enactment of the ancient “great game” in Afghanistan complicating the country’s stabilization and also the international community’s efforts to fight forces of extremism and terrorism specially Al Qaeda. But Pakistan now realizes the high risk of such a policy as it might cause a spill over into Pakistan already facing a serious challenge of internal security caused by the radical forces who largely owe their origin to the Afghan Jihad of 80s against the Soviet Union. . Will the US withdrawal of bulk of its forces from Afghanistan and the possible end of their combat role at the end of 2016 make this competition worse or will it force them to seek a cooperative relationship as a peaceful Afghanistan could lead to regional stability as well as economic cooperation? Will the talks with the Taliban succeed? And if not, how will the continued insurgency affect Afghanistan and the region?
As for India yes Prime Minister Modi has an ambitious economic agenda but the fact is India cannot rise under threat of possible destabilization by non state actors based in Pakistan who prosper in the shadow of an unstable Afghanistan. And Pakistan cannot become a peaceful state without normal relations with India and without a stable Afghanistan that is at peace with Pakistan. Peace has thus become indivisible in South Asia and also a strategic imperative
The course will focus on this whole range of dangers South Asia faces and presents and potential causes for conflict and war, and also study the prospects for peace, the need as well as compulsions for it which have never been greater. Globalization and rise of China and India and opening up of Central Asia offer new economic opportunities to the people of the region and the outside world through possible projects like gas pipelines, transit trade and much talked about New Silk Road –the American version and the Chinese version. What will be the consequences of economic, political, and cultural globalization not only for India and Pakistan but also for smaller states of South Asia specially in their search for stability, development and democracy?
The course will look at these themes against the historical background of South Asia’s relations with the world during the Cold War but also its evolving relations specially with the US, and China. Especially how the US is helping India in realizing its aspirations for a big power status, and a factor of stability in the region, how a nuclear armed Pakistan, both as a partner in the war against extremism and terrorism and a likely target, remains a major foreign policy challenge for the US. Pakistan’s role in the stability of the region specially its approach to its own internal security and to the relations with Afghanistan will have a major bearing on the US and global security as well as its own future. Pakistan is not destined to fail but is not born to succeed either. Pakistan has to work hard for its future, and it has the resources and potential to succeed.
The instructor is a former Ambassador of Pakistan who will bring to the teaching of this course his insights and expertise as a long time policy practitioner and his experience as an academic. The course will blend theoretical approach with elements of practical diplomacy.
This course is a blend of seminar/lecture style straddling the undergrad and graduate needs and the success of the class would very much depend on student contribution. The instructor will introduce, provide context to, and summarize ideas, and will bring his first hand knowledge of international affairs to bear on the extensive reading that the students are expected to do. And then the class will discuss and debate. Students will be challenged to develop bold and innovative habits of thought and analysis.
Other academic years
There is information about this course number in other academic years: