SEST-573 Security Problems in South Asia
Fall for 2017-2018
Spring for 2017-2018
South Asia includes the countries of Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and the Maldives. Some definitions of South Asia also include Afghanistan. I do as well for purposes of this course.
South Asia has long hosted some of the most serious challenges to U.S. national security interests. India and Pakistan have been locked in an intractable security competition since 1947 over the disputed disposition of Kashmir. There have been four Indo-Pakistani wars (1947, 1965, 1971, and 1999), a protracted proxy conflict since 1989, and numerous crises that have threatened to develop into full-scale conflicts. Pakistan has hosted Islamist militants that operate in India since 1947 and in Afghanistan since the 1970s. Since the overt nuclearization of the sub-continent in 1998, when India and Pakistan tested nuclear weapons, the stakes of their competition have increased, with any war possibly resulting in advertent or inadvertent nuclear use. Attacks in India by Pakistan-based and backed militants remain one of the most likely precipitants of future Indo-Pakistan crises. Preventing such crises and concomitant nuclear escalation remains a prominent US regional priority.
While India’s security competition with Pakistan is well known, India also has outstanding territorial disputes with China, which defeated India in the Sino-Indian War of 1962. Indeed, it was this loss that motivated India’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. The rise of India and China impose a number of security challenges on the United States as it manages its interests in South Asia and beyond. Indeed, managing the rise of China has been a principal driver of developing the US-India strategic relationship. For New Delhi, the growing peer competition with Beijing has surpassed the old Indo-Pakistani rivalry as a driver of defense planning and strategy. For all the focus on Pakistan, Afghanistan, and their fragilities, it is the contest between Asia’s rising giants that will shape the future of the region, and the world.
Throughout the 1980s, the United States — principally with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia — raised, supported, and missioned Islamist insurgents (“mujahideen”) to wage a guerilla war against the Soviet occupation. With the Soviet withdrawal and collapse of the U.S.S.R., as well as the invocation of proliferation-related sanctions against Pakistan, Washington’s interests in the region lapsed. With the 9/11 terrorist attacks by al Qaeda, U.S. attention again focused upon Afghanistan and Pakistan. After being routed in late 2001, the Taliban fled to Pakistan’s tribal areas, where they regrouped and launched an unexpected insurgent campaign against the United States, NATO, and the Afghan government. Currently, the Taliban have the initiative and the United States and its allies are struggling to retard and possibly reverse Taliban successes to increase the likelihood that the Afghan government can secure the state at some point in the near future.
While Islamist militants are well known in Pakistan and Afghanistan, Bangladesh too has witnessed the emergence of Islamist militants operating in and from the country, often enjoying linkages to Pakistani groups. India, long a victim of Pakistan-backed Islamist terror groups, has been afflicted by a number of ethnic and religious-based insurgencies since 1947 and is now witnessing the emergence of indigenous Islamist militant groups in the Indian heartland that are motivated by grievances disconnected from the famed Kashmir dispute but are likely enjoying support from Pakistan.
In addition, Sri Lanka has experienced some three decades of ethno-nationalist insurgency with the Tamil Tigers waging a vicious war on the Government of Sri Lanka. Nepal too has undergone several years of Maoist insurgency. (We will not cover Nepal in this course.)
During this course, you will garner an understanding of the following concepts:
•The partition of the sub-continent and its consequences.
•An overview of the Indian and Pakistani armies and the roles they play at home and abroad.
•Sources of Indo-Pakistani security competition, including the Kashmir dispute.
•The past and present dimensions of the Sino-Indian security competition.
•The emergence of Bangladesh from the 1971 Indo-Pakistani war and its implications for Pakistani identity formation and other aspects of regional security.
•New sources of Islamist militancy in India and Bangladesh, with important ties to founding militant groups in Pakistan.
•The various proximal and distal threats to international and regional security due to ongoing conflict in Afghanistan.
•The effects of nuclearization of the Indo-Pakistan security competition.
•The regional and global consequences of the rise of India as well as China.
•The Sri Lankan Tamil Tiger insurgency and its eventual defeat in 2009.
•The main insurgencies confronting modern India including, the Kashmir Insurgency, the Sikh Insurgency, the insurgencies in India’s North East, and the various Naxalite movements.
The following syllabi may help you learn more about this course (login required):
Fall '17: Fair C (file download)
Additional syllabi may be available in prior academic years.
Other academic years
There is information about this course number in other academic years: