In examining the forces that made the Indo-Pakistani relationship prone to conflict, Dr. Ganguly focusses first on the nature of the British colonial disengagement policy, a hasty and ill-conceived procedure that served to exacerbate the ideological differences between India's major political parties, the Congress and the Muslim League. Their competing views–the Congress espoused a secular polity while the League drew its inspiration from Islamic tenets–formed the basis of the two polities that emerged from the collapse of the British Indian empire. Disputes also arose over the uncertain status of Kashmir. With the lapse of the British doctrine of paramountcy (recognition of the British as the sovereign power in India), the so-called princely states had to join either India or Pakistan on the basis of geographic location and demographic composition. Kashmir posed a problem because of its location and because it had a Hindu monarch ruling a Muslim majority population. This peculiar status made it the center of a Pakistani irredentist claim. This claim was rejected by India, iintent upon demonstrating that all minorities could thrive under the aegis of secular government. Once set in motion by the interplay of domestic, regional, and systematic factors, these three forces--disengagement, ideological differences, and the conflict over Kashmir--brought the subcontinent to war in 1947-1948, 1965, and 1971. Dr. Ganguly provides a comprehensive and comparative analysis of these three Indo-Pakistani conflicts as well as an assessment of both the impact of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan on the security of South Asia and the changes in the perceptions of that security.
Introduction -- The First Kashmir War -- The Second Kashmir War -- The Bangladesh War -- Conclusions -- Epilogue