1st Edition

India’s Pakistan Conundrum Managing a Complex Relationship

By Sharat Sabharwal Copyright 2022
    238 Pages
    by Routledge India

    238 Pages
    by Routledge India

    Historically, the relationship between India and Pakistan has been mired in conflicts, war, and lack of trust. Pakistan has continued to loom large on India’s horizon despite the growing gap between the two countries. This book examines the nature of the Pakistani state, its internal dynamics, and its impact on India.


    The text looks at key issues of the India-Pakistan relationship, appraises a range of India’s policy options to address the Pakistan conundrum, and proposes a way forward for India’s Pakistan policy. Drawing on the author’s experience of two diplomatic stints in Pakistan, including as the High Commissioner of India, the book offers a unique insider’s perspective on this critical relationship.


    A crucial intervention in diplomatic history and the analysis of India’s Pakistan policy, the book will be of as much interest to the general reader as to scholars and researchers of foreign policy, strategic studies, international relations, South Asia studies, diplomacy, and political science. 

    Part I – The Pakistani State 1. Pakistan – Troubled and Troublesome: Religious Extremism 2. Running Economy on External Aid/Borrowing and a Prayer: Need for an External Patron 3. Army – State within a State: Civil-Military Imbalance 4. Ethnic Fault Lines 5. What drives Pakistan’s Hostility against India? 6. Whither Pakistan? Part II – India-Pakistan Relations and India’s Policy Options 7. India-Pakistan Relations: Jammu and Kashmir 8. Terrorism 9. Trade: A Game Changer? 10. Other ‘Outstanding Issues’ 11. Shared Heritage and People to People Bonhomie 12. Engaging with the “Real Power Centre” 13. Coercion to Change Pakistan’s Behaviour: Water, MFN and Pakistan’s Fault Lines 14. Military Coercion: The Nuclear Dimension 15. Isolating Pakistan 16. A Few Silver Linings 17. Dialogue Vs. No Dialogue 18. The Way Forward: Managing the Relationship



    Sharat Sabharwal joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1975 and over a long diplomatic career, spanning 38 years, held various senior positions in India’s foreign policy set-up. He was Deputy High Commissioner of India to Pakistan (1995-99), Deputy Permanent Representative of India to the UN in Geneva (1999-2002), Ambassador to Uzbekistan (2002-05) and High Commissioner to Pakistan (2009-13). After his retirement from the Foreign Service, he served as Central Information Commissioner from 2013 to 2017. He is currently a Distinguished Fellow with the Ananta Centre, New Delhi, India. He has been commenting on foreign policy issues, notably concerning Pakistan and Afghanistan, in TV discussions and print media.  

    "The India-Pakistan relationship is burdened by layer upon layer of prejudice, hostility and progressively infrequent engagement. If there ever was a need to dispel the stereotypical images that imprison the minds of people in both countries, that need is now more than ever. There is no one more knowledgeable about Pakistan and its political and social dynamics than Sharat Sabharwal who also had the unique distinction of managing the complex relations between the two countries at critical junctures. His fine book 'India’s Pakistan Conundrum' demonstrates that we are dealing with a country which far from being a monolithic entity, has a diversity which needs to be understood and treated with nuance. This is an important book on a critical subject and of immense value to scholars and lay persons alike."

    Shyam Saran, former Foreign Secretary, Prime Minister’s Special Envoy and Chairman of the National Security Advisory Board


    "As India celebrates its seventy-fifth year of independence, it is also a moment to reflect on the tragic Partition of the Subcontinent and the unending conflict with Pakistan. Sharat Sabharwal, with his deep diplomatic experience in Pakistan, offers a clear-eyed analysis of what troubles this relationship and the multiple dilemmas that test Delhi's engagement with Islamabad. Amidst mounting political passions that cast a dark shadow over bilateral ties, Sabharwal brings much needed clarity to India's national discourse on Pakistan."

    C. Raja Mohan, Director, Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore


    "Many Indian works analyse Pakistan, to understand this subcontinental neighbour. This book is an important addition thanks to the balanced, nuanced, and insightful perspectives offered…….I admire this book’s robust common sense, and that it is precise, unboastful, and avoids the baggage that some of us carry towards this problem neighbour."

    Kishan S Rana, former diplomat in The Book Review, December 2022, Volume 46, No 12


    "Sharat Sabharwal’s book takes a very detailed look with a first-person insight, covering all aspects of very vexed and complicated relationship and an intractable dispute. It gives out an historical context, the contours and evolution of the issues confronting both countries and also gives a glimpse of the challenges faced by those responsible for maintaining the security and integrity of the borders which are perceived differently by both countries…..The book is highly recommended for those who wish to understand the military, political and social dimensions of India-Pakistan relations."

    Lt Gen Ghanshyam Singh Katoch in Reviews of Recent Books, Period July 2022-September 2022, The United Service Institution of India.


    "The book is indispensable for anyone who wants to learn about India-Pakistan relations. It is a welcome departure from both the scholarly studies by analysts and the anecdotal narrations of practitioners. It is a thorough account of Pakistan’s current state, the most troublesome bilateral issues between India and Pakistan, and suggestions on managing them, inspired by his observation and experiences."

    Jayant Prasad, former diplomat and former Director General of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, on the CNBC TV 18 website


    "Pakistan occupies an enormous amount of mind space in India. Remarkably, though, Indian scholarship on Pakistan is anaemic and, indeed, there is not a single academic institute devoted to studying the country with which India has fought several wars, whose existence forms a staple of our political discourse and whose jihadi warriors continue to assault our cities. Leave alone institutes, there is an acute scarcity of even individuals who can authoritatively talk of developments — be they political, economic or social — in Pakistan. Sharat Sabharwal’s book is a valiant attempt to fill the gap. His experience in dealing with our difficult neighbour forms the core of the book, but its real value lies in how he has fleshed it out into a readable study of considerable value."

    Manoj Joshi, Journalist and author in The Tribune.