India’s Role in Af-Pak

Steven Walt observes that however scary a collapsing, Talibanized Pakistan may look to the United States, it looks way scarier to India:

So instead of its traditional goal of trying to weaken Pakistan, you’d think India would be going to considerable lengths to shore up the Zadari government. Pakistan’s military isn’t strong enough to pose a conventional threat to India, and New Delhi ought to be looking for ways to allow Pakistan’s armed forces to reorient their attention away from India and towards the real danger. This wouldn’t a concession on India’s part; it would be a smart strategy. But it would also require a level of foresight that few governments manage to display, so I ain’t optimistic.


I think an Indian would tell you that the real problem with this proposal isn’t that India isn’t farsighted enough to do it, it’s that Pakistan is the aggressor in the India-Pakistan conflict. If Pakistan would stop trying to take over Indian-controlled Kashmir, the conflict would go away and Pakistan could focus its energies on its domestic radicalism problem. But Pakistan has historically preferred to focus its energy on India. India can — and should — try to give Pakistan some reassurances on this score. But recent blowups in the India-Pakistan relationship have all been caused by Pakistan. India is just trying to maintain the status quo.