OJPCR: The Online Journal of Peace and Conflict Resolution

Issue 2.3 | August 1999

ISSN 1522-211X


Challenges to Regional Security in South Asia: A New Perspective

By Monica Bhanot


The events of recent months have brought South Asia into the international limelight with literally a bang. This has been accompanied by a vigorously renewed interest in studies pertaining to patterns of cooperation and conflict among the major South Asian countries. This study attempts to explain the lack of cooperation in South Asia in terms of its shortcomings as a region. The main contention here is that South Asia is still in the process of evolving as a 'region' due to two basic factors: an adequate degree of complementarity of interests has not yet been achieved among the South Asian states and the almost perpetual preoccupation with intra-state conflicts and crises leaves individual states with scarce time or resources to work towards regional solutions.

At the outset, it would be useful to elaborate upon these two points and outline the broad parameters of this study. Basically, a region can be defined on the basis of certain specific indicators that confirm its existence. A set of countries in close geographical proximity with each other can be categorised as a 'region' when, first and foremost, they share a certain commonality of (national) interests. These interests could incorporate a whole gamut of social, economic, political, cultural, historical, and other factors. Secondly, this set of countries should be sufficiently enlightened so as to understand the significance of placing cooperation above conflict in the conduct of inter-state relations. This should also be bolstered by a collective desire to come together on a common plank to create some lasting mechanism for regional cooperation. These sentiments are more or less lacking among the South Asian states, as is evident in years of lack-lustre performance by the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Following the conception of the SAARC in 1983, very little has been actually done to promote this sole existing mechanism for collective cooperation in the subcontinent.

Such lack of 'region-ness' in South Asia can also be understood in terms of another related phenomenon, that is, the persistence of myriad social, economic and political problems in practically each and every South Asian state. And, as this paper will elaborate, such intra- state problems are often either the cause or consequence of inter-state disputes and misperceptions as well. Thus, there emerges an inextricable connection between the internal and external relations of South Asian states with patterns that are further complicated by what has been succinctly explained as the pursuit of 'order, welfare and legitimacy.'

This triad has been adopted in the theorising of Edward Kolodziej as part of his explication of the occurrence of regional conflicts across the globe. The main proposition of Kolodziej's theory is that international relations involve the global pursuit of order, welfare, and legitimacy as represented by the acronym OWL. In other words, this implies that the nation-states and peoples of the world are engaged in a ceaseless struggle to define authoritatively what systems of order and welfare should prevail for their respective societies. If these systems of order and welfare are perceived to work and are viewed as just or fair then they are invested with legitimacy, that is, with authority that sanctions how the peoples and nations of the world believe they should be governed and how they should pursue their welfare needs within the framework of the global concerns. A corollary of this theory is that the occurrence of conflicts, either at the national or the international level, adversely affects the OWL imperatives and, hence, the conduct of international relations in the region involved.(1)

In adapting the OWL Theory to the South Asian context, this study shows how most of the South Asian countries inhere inadequate levels of order, welfare, and legitimacy owing to the persistence of various intra- and inter-state conflicts. The converse also holds true. Such dismal circumstances also affect the prospects of regional cooperation among the states concerned. Not surprisingly, the rest of the world views South Asian countries with reservation, often bordering on pessimism.

An Overview of South Asia

Viewed from either the global or regional perspective, South Asia provides a disappointing picture in every social, economic, and political context. This is due to the fact that South Asia is almost perpetually plagued by various intra- and inter-state conflicts and crises stemming from myopic attitudes of the largely illiterate masses and the lackadaisical approach of the ruling elite toward resolution of such problems. Practically every South Asian country is almost perpetually plagued by internal conflicts and crises based on narrow considerations of caste, religion, ethnicity, language, community, and the like. This distorts the national integrity/unity and the overall order situation of the affected state(s). Moreover, constant and often excessive preoccupation with domestic problems renders such states highly vulnerable to external threats and interference, which also challenges their sovereignty and consequent legitimacy. In other words, the persistence of multifarious problems, both within and between the South Asian states, hampers the sustenance of an environment wherein the basic essential needs of the common man are fulfilled.

This can also be explained as the lack of 'order' in South Asian societies which, in turn, retards the economic development ('welfare') as well. Taken collectively, the inability of the ruling government to provide satisfactory levels of order and welfare leads to a crisis of political legitimacy. To illustrate this point, discontentment and frustration among certain sections of the Indian population over the effectiveness of governmental order and welfare measures has adversely affected the legitimacy of the Indian polity. This emboldens subversive forces both within and outside the country to exploit the national inadequacies. As a result, the internal crises of the country often find external manifestations as inter-state regional conflicts. One of the causes of the conflict with Pakistan has been the disillusionment of Kashmiri Muslims with socio-economic and political policies of the central government and, hence, their support to Pakistani terrorist activities in the Kashmir valley. Likewise, India's problems with Sri Lanka are an external projection of the frustrations of certain Tamilians in the southern parts of India. Such trends are indeed shameful in view of the fact that following the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union political commentators had started assuming that India would rise to be the most powerful actor in the Indian Ocean region.(2) India, in contrast, is now perceived to be burdened by political chaos, economic crisis, and regional instability. Far from being a new power in the Indian Ocean region, it is feared that the country is in the danger of breaking up.

Taken collectively, though the governments of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal have been making efforts to improve their socio-economic conditions through democratic means, these attempts have often been frustrated by the background of colonial rule and societies behest by extraordinary religious, ethnic, and linguistic complexity. Among the issues related to welfare, the most important concerns of South Asia include limiting population growth, raising literacy levels, and addressing environmental degradation. South Asia today contains 20% of the world's population. At present levels of growth, the most recent World Bank projections for the year 2025 put India's population at 1.3 billion, Pakistan's at 244 million, Bangladesh's at 180 million, Nepal's at 38 million, and Sri Lanka's at 24 million. These high rates of population growth threaten to undermine the benefits of economic development, as well as advances in agricultural productivity, and place massive pressures on the land and its resources. With a substantial population living below the poverty line in most of the South Asian countries (one-third, in the case of India) and with extremely low Physical Quality of Life Indices (39 for a well-established democracy like India), none of these nations can really afford added detriments to their overall growth and progress. In fact, the South Asian region contains more people living in abject poverty than any other region of the world. In terms of providing for these people, the nations of the region are required "to run in order to stand still."

The migration of the landless into cities exacerbates urban environmental problems and creates opportunities for socio-political unrest. Moreover, the movement of people across the subcontinent's borders in search of food and employment causes friction within and between the regional neighbours. Further, despite some improvements in the past four decades, the literacy rates remain disappointingly low throughout most of South Asia, especially for females and in the rural areas. The overall adult literacy rate for India is an estimated 48%, for Pakistan and Bangladesh about 35%, and for Nepal 26%. High illiteracy rates stifle family-planning efforts, limit farmers' abilities to utilise technological improvements, and reduce labour efficiency in the general manufacturing sector. Only Sri Lanka has achieved solid success in improving literacy, with literacy rates close to 90%. Although most of the South Asian countries have recently initiated varying degrees of economic reforms by adopting liberalisation and free market economic policies, the pervasive and innate character of their domestic/regional problems tends to negate most of the constructive efforts.

According to a 1997 report of the Human Development Centre, South Asia is fast emerging as the poorest, most illiterate, most malnourished, least gender-sensitive -- indeed, the most deprived region in the world today. And yet it continues to make more investment in arms than in the education and health of its people. The per capita gross national product (GNP) of South Asia ($US 309 in 1993) is lower than any other region in the world. To reiterate a statement made earlier, nearly 40% of the world's poor live in South Asia. While the region contains 22% of the world's population, it produces only 1.3% of the world's income. The adult literacy rate (48%) in South Asia is now the lowest in the world. Its share (46%) of the world's total illiterate population is twice as high as its share of the world's total population.

There are more children out of school in South Asia than in the rest of the world, and two-thirds of this wasted generation is female. According to a recent UNICEF study, the worst-affected region for malnourished children is South Asia, not Sub-Saharan Africa. Half the children in South Asia are underweight, compared to 30% in Sub-Saharan Africa, despite the much higher GNP growth rate and a more robust increase in food production in South Asia. Furthermore, South Asia's Gender-Equality Measure (GEM), prepared by UN Development Programme's (UNDP) Human Development Reports to reflect economic and political opportunities open to women compared to men, shows the lowest value (0.235) among all the regions in the world. South Asia is also the only region that defies the global biological norm, with only 94 women for every 100 men (instead of 106 women to 100 men as in the rest of the world), so that 74 million women are simply 'missing.'

The extent of human deprivation in South Asia is also colossal. About 260 million people lack access to even rudimentary health facilities, 337 million lack safe drinking water, 830 million have no access to basic sanitation facilities, and over 400 million go hungry each day. Despite all this, South Asia is one of the most militarised regions in the world. The widespread human deprivation contrasts sharply with large armies, modern weapons, and expanding military budgets. Indeed, two of the largest armies in the world are in South Asia and it is also the only region where military spending (as a proportion of GNP) has gone up since 1987; it declined substantially in all other parts of the world after the end of the Cold War.(3)

Environmental degradation in South Asia is analogous to the region's population problem apart from having several negative socio-economic and politico-security implications. The dependence of the poor regions of South Asia on their natural resource base, such as soil, water, forests, and fisheries, is self-evident. And yet, environmental abuse is rampant to an unbelievable degree. Deforestation (a particular problem in Sri Lanka and Nepal), soil erosion, droughts (as in Bangladesh and certain parts of India), floods (as frequently experienced in Bangladesh due to siltation of rivers and channels), and urban pollution (New Delhi, the capital of India, is the third most polluted city in the world today and even hitherto clean environs like those of Nepal are becoming increasingly polluted) have often undermined economic growth, depleted food supplies, and caused socio-political instability in South Asia.

As per statistics, the region is also losing a considerable amount of productive land due to water-logging and salinity. In India alone, over three million hectares are believed to be affected by salinity and up to 8.5 million hectares by water-logging. Nearly five million acres of forests are cut down each year in South Asia, with only feeble efforts at reforestation. Fresh water resources are being depleted at a rapid rate - by as much as one-third in Pakistan during the 1980s. Moreover, such problems also have spill-over ramifications for the region (like aggravating global warming and depleting of the ozone layer). Most of these environmental problems, finally, link up with the desperate poverty of people in South Asia; for want of any viable alternatives for sustaining their livelihoods, they have no choice but to denude and destroy the very land, forests, and water resources that they live on - little realising that these resources are not ever-lasting.(4)

Furthermore, South Asia is an area of tremendous political complexities. Certain South Asian states like Pakistan and Bangladesh, have been largely ruled by authoritarian, military rulers. In fact, the former has had the dubious distinction of being labelled a "Garrison state" due to its lengthy trysts with military regimes. Even today, though Pakistan claims to be a democracy, in reality there are irreconcilable differences between the democratically elected Prime Minister and the President who is backed by the military-bureaucratic junta. As in the case of Bangladesh, Pakistan's military intelligence agencies (like the dreaded ISI) reportedly exercise a crucial influence over the country's national and international affairs. The 1996 military upheavals in Bangladesh just prior to the crucial parliamentary elections, which were expected to end the country's long-running political crisis, also cite the complex struggle between democratic and undemocratic forces in the region. The election of democratic governments in South Asia had accompanied raised expectations by citizens of the region for a better life (related to the imperative of welfare). Hence, failure by elected governments to deliver economic and social benefits sought by the citizens has repeatedly undermined the faith in democracy (and subsequently the legitimacy of the system) in South Asia.

In Nepal, for example, it has been felt that the new, democratically elected government is not producing any better results than the old royal regime, and that corruption is widespread and growing. Ethnic and religious conflicts are posing major threats to the democratic governments of the region. In addition to creating law and order problems, increased human rights violations, and a heavy reliance on security forces (all indicators of dysfunctionality of the order imperative), such conflicts divert the attention and resources of governments from urgent socio-economic needs, undermining their ability to satisfy the demands of the electorates (that is, the question of legitimacy). In South Asia, the problem of civil violence has in recent years emerged as a more serious security issue than the problem of inter-state warfare. India has been variously preoccupied with quelling conflicts in the states of Punjab (due to the separatist demands of the often-violent Akali community), Kashmir (an issue that remains contentious between India and Pakistan, and has certain religious, ethnic, psychological, and economic underpinnings), and the North-east (stemming from ethnic and regional movements in Assam, Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura, etc.) The law and order situation is insecure in most of the rural areas and the Indian government spends nearly $US9 million per day to maintain about half a million security forces in Kashmir alone. Moreover, the Indian government announced a huge increase of 21% in the country's defence spending for 1990-91.(5)

On the economic front, the initial pace of market reforms adopted by India in 1991 has been slackening over the past few years. Though many global giants and institutional investors agree that India is a future market, they do not really seem to be in a hurry to invest here. A feeling of disillusionment with the pace of Indian reforms as well as with the Indian government's commitment to improve the basic infrastructure and alleviate endemic economic problems has been growing even in the international circles. Thus, India is far from becoming a hot destination on the economic map of the world even as political uncertainty and slow policy change figure high on the long list of irritants. Discussions at the 1998 World Economic Forum held in New Delhi also conceded that even as Southeast Asia is rejuvenating itself at a remarkable pace, India (as also the rest of South Asia) has fallen sharply in the ranking of foreign investment, primarily due to its inability to sustain the pace of reforms. A survey conducted by A. T. Kearny showed that Indian companies registered a whopping 21% decline in investor preference over the later half of 1998. The fact that Southeast Asian countries have far outstripped India in the past two decades and, even after their present debacle, have a much higher per capita income, was aptly summed up in the words of Percy Barnevik, Chairman Investor AB as, "I keep hearing that India escaped the Southeast Asian problem because it went slow. Frankly, I don't mind losing 100 per cent after a growth of 500 per cent".(6)

Neighbouring Sri Lanka has also had its share of problems. Democracy in this tiny island-nation remains overshadowed by the Tamil-Sinhalese ethnic conflict and frequent outbursts of Sinhalese militancy. These conflicts have stymied the government's economic reform efforts and polarised political debate. In Pakistan, the society faces sporadic bursts of violence emanating from ethnic, sectarian, and religious differences in its diverse community. For instance, the conflict in the Sindh province between ethnic Sindhis and those residents who migrated from India following partition has made the province, especially its capital Karachi, ungovernable. Conservative religious elements are also very powerful in Pakistan, leading to tensions and conflicts over religious fundamentalism, which has also played a major role in sustaining the Indo-Pakistan altercations over Kashmir.

Religious orthodoxy is evident in Bangladeshi society as well, manifesting itself in attacks on women's groups, prominent non-governmental organisations (Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee and the Grameen Bank), and the intellectuals (like Taslima Nasrin). In Sri Lanka, religious chauvinism, intensified by the corrosive effects of years of civil war, is powerful and erodes the tolerance that is imperative for maintaining the country's democracy. All this can largely be attributed to the fact that political and governing institutions in most of the South Asian countries are weak while the political parties themselves lack vigour, organisation, discipline, and commitment. The condition can be best summed up in the words of J.K. Galbraith when he sought to explain the Indian polity as "a functional anarchy."

Taken individually, each of the South Asian states suffers from some kind of instability and, consequently, projects varying intensities of human deprivation. In India, 291 million adults are still illiterate and 45 million children were out of primary schools in 1995 alone. 44% of the total population lives in absolute poverty and nearly one-third of the world's poor live in India. About 135 million people are denied access to primary health care, 226 million are without safe drinking water, and 640 million have to make do without basic sanitation facilities. Though the crude death rate has been halved from 21 per 1000 in 1960 to 10 per 1000 in 1994, infant mortality is still widespread, particularly involving the female child. The per capita food production increased by 23% between 1980 and 1993, but there are still 62 million malnourished children under the age of five and nearly one-third of the children under 16 are forced into child labour. In the face of all this, India was ranked first in arms imports but 147th in terms of per capita income between 1988 and 1992.(7)

Likewise, Pakistan's social and human indicators make very dismal reading. In the context of development, the governments in Pakistan are said to be up against a crisis that has four features: wide-spread poverty, rapid and unplanned urbanisation, rising debt, and rapid erosion of the natural resource base. Over two-thirds of Pakistan's adult population is illiterate and there are 740,000 child deaths each year, half of them linked to malnutrition. Pakistan is also experiencing one of the fastest rates of urbanisation in the developing world, which may result in the urban population exceeding the rural by the turn of the century. At the same time, the population growth rate, at around 3% per annum, is the highest in South Asia. According to long-term UN projections, Pakistan will emerge as the third most populous country in the world by the year 2050. Already, 36 million people live in absolute poverty. More than half of the cultivable land in the holdings of 50 acres and above is in the hands of big landlords, thereby encouraging the rich-poor divide to further widen. Even after five decades of independence, Pakistan has remained an essentially feudal society.

Despite enjoying the privilege of an elected female Prime Minister for a few years, the status of women in Pakistan is very low. Apart from being subjected to subjugation through several orthodox customs and traditions, female mortality is disproportionately high in Pakistani society. And against 100 males, only 16 females are economically active - the lowest ratio in the SAARC region. Likewise, the share of women in Parliament is also the lowest in South Asia.

While the overall state of human development is poor, widespread regional disparities make the situation even worse. For instance, the adult literacy rate ranges from 17% in rural Baluchistan to 50% in urban Punjab to 52% in urban Sindh. The female literacy rate in rural NWFP is only 5.4%, and lower still at 3.2% in rural Baluchistan compared to 41.3% in urban Sindh. Overall, urban Sindh has the highest Human Development Index (0.537), comparable to Zimbabwe, but rural Baluchistan has the lowest HDI (0.388), at par with Zaire. These regional disparities also indicate that the task of national integration in Pakistan is difficult since it requires a major investment in accelerating the pace of human development as well as ensuring a special emphasis on less developed regions, particularly in rural areas. At the same time, the treasury is worse than broke - it owes roughly $US30 billion to domestic creditors and another $30 billion abroad. Graft is so shameless that Transparency International, the German-based monitoring group, has named Pakistan as one of the five most corrupt countries in the world.(8)

Pakistan's so-called 'deep commitment' to the creation of an Islamic state has been often criticised as nothing more than an attempt by the upper-class ruling elite to get a theocratic legitimacy to create their own separate state. From the very beginning, these elite have not only demanded a separate state, but also separate electorates, languages, and identities - demands that bode ill for the process of national integration in Pakistan. Moreover, ethno-national problems of political autonomy have plagued Sindh, Baluchistan, and the North-Western Frontier Province of Pakistan since the 1950s. The ethnic issue drew world-wide attention with the 1971 dismemberment of Pakistan that subsequently led to the creation of Bangladesh. The situation has only worsened in recent years with ethnic conflicts between Pathans, Mohajirs, Sindhis, and Punjabis having assumed serious proportions. For example, in 1986 more than 300 people were killed in riots between Mohajirs and Pathans in Pakistan. Estimates also show that more than 3000 Sindhis have been massacred in the country since 1971 and countless others are missing. Since the early 1990s, many Pakistani cities such as Karachi (also the capital of Sindh) have become battle-grounds for rival Islamic sects (the Sunnis versus the Shias) and wide-spread sectarian violence now perpetually poses a crisis of legitimacy for the ruling Pakistani government. More than 1000 people have reportedly been killed in sectarian clashes in several parts of Sindh during 1998 alone, forcing the authorities to repeatedly declare an emergency in this strife-torn province.(9)

Though Bangladesh is the youngest state in South Asia, it has already undergone a number of political vicissitudes, social upheavals, natural disasters, and economic crises. Indeed, the country has been fraught with political crises and instability ever since its inception. The state has been too divided over issues of ideology and national identity to enforce its authority impartially. The structures of state authority, such as the police force, the intelligence branch, and, to an extent, the judiciary, have been weakened by political interference; civilian institutions, such as educational establishments, have constantly faced unwarranted intervention from unscrupulous political elements. The latter tendency has led to periodic unrest and other forms of political violence further exacerbated by the struggle between the forces of religious extremism and secular liberalism. All this has been contributing collectively to a crisis of governance in Bangladesh.

As regards the overall HDI, 52% of the Bangladeshi population survives below the absolute poverty line and nearly two-thirds of all adults are illiterate. There is only one doctor for every 12,500 people and two-thirds of all deaths under age five are attributable to malnutrition. 50% of the infants are born underweight, against the average of 19% in developing countries. According to a 1996 UNICEF Report, the proportion of malnourished children in India and Bangladesh is significantly higher than even the poorest countries of Sub-Saharan Africa. The population density of 800 persons per square kilometre (km) in Bangladesh exceeds that of all major countries. It even surpasses the density that would result if the entire population of the world moved into the territory of the United States. And yet, military holdings (total military equipment of all descriptions) have increased by 122% in less than a decade. This is truly appalling in view of the fact that the most tenacious problem in Bangladesh is that of mobilising sufficient resources for human development and using them effectively.(10)

Campaigning in early 1996, the Awami League leader Sheikh Hasina Wajed asked Bangladeshis to forgive past governments' mistakes and put their faith in her. She promised to reform the economy and eliminate rampant corruption and lawlessness. That June, the Awami League won a slim majority over the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party - its first since Hasina's father, the nation's founder and president, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was killed in 1975 by a group of army officers. The result came as a relief after more than a year of economic and political paralysis caused by League-led strikes and an election boycott. At last, many believed, impoverished Bangladesh would have the stability to develop economically and to exploit resources such as its abundant natural gas. But all these turned out to be false hopes. According to a June 1998 report, the corruption, violence, and political infighting that defined previous governments have only escalated. Government-backed thugs extort from local businessmen, intimidate judges, and threaten political opponents. Public dissent is quickly snuffed out and the incidence of human rights abuses is increasing. As a result, Bangladeshis and the country's international backers have begun to cry foul, putting foreign investment, international aid, and even the survival of the present government into question.

Although foreign investment continues to pour in, analysts say it could be much greater if the government could quell instability and carry out the desperately needed reforms. Many potential investors are said to have backed out of Bangladesh due to the bureaucracy, corruption, and lack of basic infrastructure. For now, donors continue to give the "benefit of doubt" to government promises of further reforms, the European Commission's ambassador to Dhaka, Michael Drury is said to have stated in mid-1998. As regards the World Bank, which normally pledges around $US2 billion annually in fresh aid to Bangladesh, it has made no new promises for 1998-1999. This is worrisome for Bangladeshi authorities in view of the fact that according to the government's 1998-99 budget, released in early June 1998, 56% of developmental projects are slated to be paid for through $US3 billion in aid. However, unless the ruling elite makes amends vis-à-vis ensuring stability and growth in the coming months, the country's future continues to look bleak. Whereas since early January 1999, reports indicate that Sheikh Hasina is facing her first serious political challenge from an opposition alliance comprising the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, the Jatiya Nationalist Party, and the Jamaat-e-Islami. Although the latest political tensions stem from religious fundamentalism within Bangladesh and the nature of relations with neighbouring India, they could very well threaten the already-precarious rule of the present Awami League government.(11)

Nepal is one of the least developed countries in the world, with an extremely low income and very poor human development indicators. Nepal's illiteracy rate is 74% and over 40% of the population lives below the poverty line. About four-fifths of the total population is deprived of basic sanitation and more than half has no access to potable water. Stunting occurs in two-thirds of all children in Nepal. Though the earned income share of women in Nepal is 26%, one of the highest in the SAARC region, yet ironically, Nepal is also one of the only two countries in the world where males live longer than females. Furthermore, despite a vigorous growth rate, the current level of per capita income is only $US190, the lowest in South Asia. Finally, there are more soldiers (35) per doctor in Nepal than in any other country in the region. Some of these problems can be explained due to the fact that despite Nepal's commendable democratic transition, the reality is that a small minority still exercises a virtual monopoly over the highest positions of power and profit. Moreover, following the recent political confusion in Nepal, it has been aptly remarked that democracy in this world's sole Hindu kingdom has turned out to be such a multiparty menage that popular mandate has little to do with the governments formed by elected legislators. Thus, human development in such a situation is both erratic and highly selective.(12) Sri Lanka is a country full of paradoxes. Its HDIs are among the highest in the world, often surpassing those achieved in the more prosperous regions of the developing world, and sometimes even the human progress made in the industrial nations. Currently, Sri Lanka has a population growth of 1.5% compared to the average of 2.3% for South Asia. Its adult literacy rate, at 90%, is one of the highest in the developing world. Basic health facilities are available to 93% of the population and life expectancy, at 72, is 11 years longer than the South Asian average of 61 years. These impressive figures are a result of a conscious policy effort of successive governments to invest in social development over the past five decades. And yet, a substantial part of the population is dissatisfied and the country is being systematically ravaged by never-ending ethnic tensions. The simmering tensions between the Tamils and the Sinhalese, which began in the 1950s, exploded into open violence in the 1980s and have turned the country into an ungovernable mess ever since. Much of this stems from the serious imbalance between economic growth and human development in Sri Lanka during its formative years. The earlier governments also made the fatal mistake of extending certain social benefits to society on a discriminatory basis and not addressing the grievances of the minorities seriously enough. These mistakes have still not been rectified and it seems that it will take a long time for future governments to effectively tackle this malaise. Recent reports have repeatedly suggested that Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga has lost much of her shine insofar as her peace proposals to end the bloody ethnic war in the island have remained just a package. Meanwhile, attacks by the LTTE at soft targets in the capital city have turned Colombo into a citizen's nightmare - security checks, road blocks, and arrests of minorities have disgruntled the Tamils and eroded much of the goodwill the President once commanded. No wonder then that an average citizen of Sri Lanka had little to rejoice when the country celebrated fifty years of its independence on February 4, 1998.(13)

The relatively insignificant states of Bhutan and Maldives present a mixed bag of successes. After several experiments, recent years have seen Bhutan being relatively peacefully governed by a monarch who is assisted by a National Assembly of elected representatives of the people. The country also takes great pride in its self-imposed isolationist policy (implemented until the early 1960s), which enabled it to keep intact a unique cultural heritage and a substantial degree of political independence. Nonetheless, given its size and geographical considerations, Bhutan has had to accept a great deal of policy influence from both India and China, the former exercising greater control than the latter. Though there is a dearth of credible empirical data on Bhutan's socio-economic development, the following points are noteworthy for the purpose of this research. Though two-thirds of the population enjoy access to some form of health services, Bhutan's crude death rate of 15 per 1000 is the highest in the region. The population growth rate and infant mortality rate are also the highest in South Asia. And in real terms (in PPP$), the GDP per capita of $790 is the lowest in the region. Furthermore, although more than two-fifths of the female population is economically active, only 19% of girls are enrolled in primary schools. Taken collectively, males and females receive an average of 6 and 2.4 months of total schooling respectively - the lowest ratios in the SAARC region. All in all, ranked 159 out of 174 countries on the HDI ladder, Bhutan comes across as a rather poor and underdeveloped country.(14)

Maldives is considered the most homogenous state in South Asia in cultural terms. A common religion (Islam) and a common language (Divehi) have provided a strong national identity and cultural distinctiveness. Added to this was the historical tradition of a fairly continuous authority structure. The current president has been at the helm of affairs for the last eighteen years, having been elected four times. This provides considerable political stability, which has also fostered greater human development than in most other countries of the region. Its adult literacy stands at an amazing 93%, the highest in South Asia, with no gender disparity. Per capita income, at $US820, is also the highest in South Asia and the Maldives government spends nearly 7% of its GNP on promoting education. The main concern for this relatively prosperous island-state therefore is how to diversify its sources of income and protect itself from ecological disaster. There is also scope for betterment of living conditions in certain spheres. For instance, only 4% of rural households have access to sanitation facilities in Maldives and, according to a 1984 survey, there was only one doctor available for 20,300 people. More importantly, Maldives is expected to experience the largest annual population growth rate in the region, 3.2% per annum, between 1993 and 2000.(15)

Inter-state Relations in South Asia

South Asia is known to constitute one of the "critical regions" or "security complexes" in the world primarily due to the fact that most of the South Asian states are engrossed in varying degrees of inter-state disputes and conflicts. While the British imperial rule brought the South Asian countries within a common colonial system, it simultaneously sowed several seeds of discord that continue to plague inter-state relations in the area even today. The differences between India and Pakistan over the two-nation theory and between Sri Lanka and India over the nationality of Tamilian plantation workers are only two of the most outstanding examples in this regard. The final hasty retreat of the British Raj and the ensuing bitterness generated between the ruling elites of the two major South Asian states gravely disrupted the traditional complementarity and cohesion. Indeed, the historical fact that Pakistan and Bangladesh are the severed limbs of what was once a united India under the Raj bestows a unique complexity to the entire region. Ethnic and linguistic complexities further complicate the scenario.

India, per se, faces several unresolved issues that stem from internal as well as external sources. These include ethnicity, border disputes, separatist demands, terrorism and subversive activities, communalism, religious fundamentalism, and so on. All these issues flout the basic ideals of nation-building in India, that is, the ideals of democracy, secularism, socialism, and federalism. Moreover, the very fact that myopic sub-national interests are considered prior to the socio-economic and political well-being of the country as a whole, is detrimental for the development of a genuinely democratic polity. No wonder then that the perpetuance of these problems prevents India from becoming a 'nation' in the true sense of the term and also adversely affects the imperatives of order, welfare, and legitimacy. Indeed, ethnic and communal violence in India since the early 1980s has been at its highest since independence. Estimates show that about 10,000 people were killed in various separatist, ethnic, and religious violence in India during 1983-86, while in 1991 alone the death toll was more than 7000 and the casualties have been increasing. The year 1992 was the worst in terms of casualties with Hindu-Muslim riots claiming over 1400 lives.

Pakistan also continues to suffer from disturbances and violence instigated by the forces of disintegration and about 9000 lives have reportedly been lost in a recent 5-year period. Similar types of problems continue to bedevil the domestic political scene in Bangladesh where the armed forces are involved in containing a small but potentially grave ethnic minority rebel group in the Chittagong Hill tracts. Likewise, a UN investigation team reported that 12,000 people were unaccounted for in Sri Lanka between 1983 and 1991.

The problems arising out of divided communities spread across the South Asian countries are particularly intractable when open borders encourage constant interaction between the populace of these countries. Such interaction often becomes the source of misgivings between states. Inevitably, Pakistan's reactions to the killings of Muslims in India are matched by India's response to the killings of Hindus in Bangladesh. Indo-Sri Lankan relations also remain strained over the discrimination and occasional mistreatment meted out to Tamils in Sri Lanka. Indeed, relations between India and Sri Lanka have also not improved much despite the withdrawal of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) following the breakdown of the 1987 Indo-Sri Lankan accord and the hectic democratic efforts of President Kumaratunga for restoring peace on the island. Both countries continue to view each other with suspicion regarding the LTTE crisis, while Sri Lanka battles alone against the increased hostility of the Tamil tigers who are disrupting the stability of the island with wide connotations for the entire region (the annual report of the US State Department on major terrorist groups had, for the first time in 1995, included the LTTE as well).

Then there are a host of other factors. For instance, Indo-Bangladesh relations have suffered due to persisting disputes like the problem of illegal migration from the Chittagong Hill Tracts and the demarcation of boundaries involving fertile islands and enclaves. Moreover, both countries frequently accuse each other of supporting insurgency and militancy in their respective troubled territories. To illustrate, Bangladesh has repeatedly accused India of supporting the militant wing of the Chakma insurgency of Bangladesh, whereas India believes that the Bangladeshis encourage various subversive and guerrilla activities in the northeastern states of India such as Mizoram and Tripura.(16)

Indo-Nepalese relations have also been occasionally strained over the form of government operating in Nepal (the communists assumed power in Nepal on an anti-India plank) and certain trade-related and transit problems (for instance, the trade blockade of 1989). Moreover, it has been said that bureaucracy and procedural stringency on the part of Indian authorities is hampering Indo-Nepal trade ventures. It must also be mentioned here that the controversy between Nepal and Bhutan regarding the Nepalese refugees in Bhutan and the use of Nepal by extremist and secessionist elements from Northeast India are some other problems that could assume significant dimensions in the coming years. There are no major disputes between India and the states of Bhutan and Maldives. Yet, within the Maldives itself, there are certain internal political pressures stemming from the peculiar political situation where a President has been in power for a long time.(17)

Similarly, the overlapping of languages and, more importantly, religions, frequently exerts a negative impact on inter-state relations in South Asia. To top it all, the manipulative ability of political leaderships to exploit ethnic tensions for electoral reasons is an ever-present danger afflicting South Asia. The area is characterised by countries with widely differing political systems - democracies, military dictatorships, and monarchies. Though most of the South Asian states emerged with shared colonial pasts, similar political experiences, and common social values, divergences are still significant. In terms of the type of government, India and Sri Lanka are said to have performed better than others as functioning democracies with varying degrees of success. The Indian experience of democracy has had severe tests in recent years, beginning with the Emergency Period of 1975-77, while Sri Lanka has often compromised democratic norms as a result of ethnic crises. Pakistan and Bangladesh, at the beginning of the 1990s, witnessed a sweeping democratic transition in their domestic scenarios. But in a long-term perspective, both have yet to institutionalise democracy and confirm the capability of the political system to keep the military out of politics. Nepal's transition to democracy has also yet to be firmly rooted. Bhutan retains the authority of monarchy as the dominant institution while the Maldives has yet to experience a multiparty political system.

Divergences are also manifest in values and principles followed in governance and state-craft. The Indian political system has been professedly a blend of democracy, federalism, secularism, and, until its global collapse, socialism. Bangladesh started with more or less the same principles in state-craft, but later changed course, making room for endless debates on the influence of religion - though more as an instrument of political profiteering than as an indicator of prevailing public opinion. Pakistan has Islam as the basis of its political system while Maldives is an Islamic society with relatively lesser influence of religion in politics. Nepal remains under Hindu influence while Bhutan and Sri Lanka are Buddhist societies. Not surprisingly, a leading scholar of South Asia remarked that "South Asia presents as different political orders and power structures as one seldom finds in any other geo-political region of the world."(18)

Almost inexorably, South Asian nations, despite their apparent adherence to the ideal of nonalignment, have pursued extremely disconsonant foreign policies. Consequently, the major global powers have played their roles in aggravating the intra-regional cleavages of South Asia. Finally, India's overwhelming regional preponderance creates certain basic insecurities and sharp differences between India and its neighbourhood. All these aspects have created a multitude of problems for the South Asian region, instances of which were provided in the previous section. These problems collectively boil down to a crisis of legitimacy, welfare, and order in the affected area. Thus, some of the contentious issues that inhibit cooperation in South Asia include those resulting from colonial legacies, issues of political and ideological character, issues of strategic conflict and military balance, issues that arise from the spill-over effect of internal conflicts and turmoil in a given country on its neighbours, and issues that arise out of resource and developmental conflicts.

A disturbing offshoot of these tendencies is the fact that South Asia is moving totally against the global disarmament trends. Global military spending declined by about 37% from 1987 to 1994, from a peak of $US1200 billion in 1987 to around $US800 billion in 1994. However, military spending in South Asia during the same period went up by 12%, from $US12.5 billion in 1987 to $US14 billion in 1994, while it declined by 41% in the industrial world and by 13% in the developing world. The same picture emerges in the case of total armed forces personnel. South Asia is expanding its standing armies at a time when other nations are reducing theirs. Globally, standing armies have been reduced by 16% since 1987, by 24% in industrial countries, and by 10% in developing countries. But in South Asia, the size of these armies increased by 7.5% between 1987 and 1994. Both India and Pakistan enjoy the 'distinction' of belonging to that exclusive club which boasts the ten largest armies in the world. India is fourth in this league, with a standing army of 1.3 million, while Pakistan is in eighth, with nearly 600,000 armed forces personnel. What is more, while most members of this league have reduced the size of their armies since the end of the Cold War - Russia by as much as two million and China by one million - India has maintained and Pakistan has increased the strength of their respective armies. No wonder then, that South Asia, is one of the most militarised regions in the world. At a fairly prohibitive cost in foreign exchange, the countries in this region are acquiring a range of modern weapons, particularly jet fighters, submarines, and missiles, Again, recent trends in South Asia are totally contrary to those in the rest of the world. Since 1987, the military holdings (combat aircraft, artillery ships, and tanks) have declined by 14.5% in the world, but have increased by 43% in South Asia. Even in poverty-stricken Bangladesh, the increase is 56%. It is 49% in Sri Lanka, which is torn by ethnic strife. According to the SIPRI Yearbook 1997, military expenditure for the year 1996 grew in real terms throughout South Asia, particularly by a staggering 29% in Sri Lanka.(19)

The most pronounced security dilemma, therefore, stems from an escalating arms race in South Asia, particularly between the two major military powers India and Pakistan.

"The fact that India's freedom struggle was jeopardised in the end by a demand for the partition of the country, the fact that India's independence was greeted by unprecedented Hindu-Muslim holocaust, the fact that India and Pakistan were engaged in armed conflict over the Kashmir issue almost immediately after Independence, the fact that the raison d'être of Pakistan not only differed from that of India but also tended to thrive at India's expense, and finally, the fact that India has fought three wars with Pakistan - have all made Pakistan a crucial factor in Indian (power) politics".(20)

Indeed, over the past 48 years, the two neighbours have fought at least two wars (in 1948 and 1965) that were a part of their bitter territorial dispute over Kashmir. This unresolved problem has also sustained a so-called "low-intensity conflict" between them for several years. Each accuses the other of seeking to destabilise it by fomenting anti-government communalism, secessionism and terrorism that have collectively caused massive casualties and destruction of national property. All this coincides with the fact that India has brought almost all South Asian states, except Pakistan, within the confines of its regional security framework. In the case of Nepal, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka, formal treaties, accords, and agreements have connected these countries with India's conception of regional security (examples here are the Indo-Bhutan Treaty of August 1949, the not-so-successful Indo-Sri Lankan Agreement of 1987, and the various Indo-Nepalese treaties of December 1991). As regards Maldives, India's ready assistance in foiling a coup d'etat in this tiny island in November 1988 and shared common interests in the Indian Ocean provide justification for cooperation between these two states.

And yet, the troubles in South Asia, its endemic tensions, mutual distrust, and occasional hostilities are largely considered products of the contradictions of India's security perception with that of the rest of the countries of the area. India's neighbours perceive threats to their security coming primarily from India whereas India considers neighbours as an integral part of its own security system. The pre-eminence of India in the South Asian power configuration given its geography, demography, economics, and ecology is something about which neither India nor its neighbours can do nothing but accept. But the image of India in South Asia is that of a power that demands habitual obedience from its neighbours. According to the strategic doctrine of India drawn from that of British India, the country's defence perimeter is given not by the boundaries of India but by the outer boundaries of its immediate neighbours. Thus, the main theme of this doctrine is that South Asia is to be regarded as an Indian backyard. No wonder then, that there have always been certain psychological misgivings on the part of the smaller states about their all-powerful neighbour India.

This has also been the main cause of failure of the SAARC. As it is, serious misgivings about the SAARC developing into a vehicle of purposeful and effective cooperation among the member countries are created by the history of the subcontinent which, as elaborated earlier, has been replete with conflicts and discords. On top of this, since its inception in 1984, there have also been serious differences among member countries over the aims and functioning of SAARC. Such differences have been pronounced in verbal bickering in several SAARC meetings, as in the case of the July 1995 meeting of SAARC parliamentarians and speakers in New Delhi, where Nepal and Bangladesh joined hands with Pakistan to create squabbles. There is also a propensity for the smaller member countries to gang up against suggestions made by India. This is in the face of the fact that closer social, economic, and cultural ties (the espoused ideals of SAARC) are considered the one and only hope for building regional cooperation efforts in South Asia in the coming years. Indeed, increasing regionalization of world trade and the fluidity of the emerging global system has increased trade within each trade bloc and those countries that do not belong to any trade bloc are likely to be the losers.(21)This alone provides a strong rationale for sustaining the SAARC vis-à-vis future trade prospects of South Asia.

Among the SAARC countries, India happens to dominate the economic scenario as its population accounts for 77%, followed by Bangladesh (10.2%), Pakistan (9.8%), Nepal (1.7%), and Sri Lanka (1.6%). Once again, India's hegemony is a lurking fear in the minds of other SAARC members. Hence, they are generally hesitant to commit themselves to cooperation in hard-core economic areas. Experts suggest that India can assist most of the other SAARC members in their developmental efforts by virtue of its diversified industrial base and relatively skilled manpower. For example, Nepal and Bangladesh could benefit in textiles and plastic products while Bangladesh and Pakistan could substantially improve iron and steel production with a little cooperation from India. Sri Lanka and India can also co-operate in exporting tea to the rest of the world through a properly evolved set of guidelines. But in reality, attempts to use SAARC as a platform from which to launch joint industrial or manufacturing ventures threatens the smaller states with further integration into India, while India itself remains reluctant to allow access to what is still an essentially protected domestic market. Pakistan has continued to restrict Indian trade because of strategic considerations, especially involving investments by private Indian firms that might displace Pakistani firms from lucrative markets or, more problematically, from emergent third markets in Central Asia. Moreover, most of the SAARC countries continue to remain primarily agricultural in nature and depend upon the developed world for their exports and imports of both manufactured as well as semi-manufactured products. The resources of the governments in SAARC countries are almost perpetually under severe strain in view of the ever-increasing need for social amenities for the expanding populace. This also cuts into the funds originally allocated to various developmental projects. Not surprisingly therefore, lack of adequate financial resources is considered one of the major constraints in transforming the work of technical committees and other SAARC bodies into more effective action.(22) One of the key outcomes of the Eighth SAARC summit that concluded in New Delhi on May 4, 1995 was an agreement among the seven member states - India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, and the Maldives - to initiate the South Asian Preferential Trade Agreement (SAPTA). Since 1993, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal had been pushing for the formalisation of SAPTA, essentially a framework in which members would accord a certain set of goods and commodities entry into their countries under preferential rates of import duties. But until 1995, the members could not even agree on the set of goods for this agreement . The agreement came into effect from December 7, 1995 after Pakistan and Bangladesh also endorsed it. After the signing of SAPTA, a pertinent remark was made by the then-Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar who said, "SAPTA is a good beginning, but it is not enough." More than anything else, this sums up SAARC and, ironically, SAPTA.

Nobody expects political problems among member countries to disappear in a hurry. "Politics and infrastructure are the major roadblocks to SAPTA's success," feels C.D. Wadhwa, economist at the Centre of Policy Research. Because of this, SAPTA is unlikely to immediately yield the situation to which it was loosely modelled, an economic self-help area like the Association of South Asian Nations (ASEAN), earlier a regional geo-political minefield, but 25 years later a six-nation group with loose trade and economic ties that have often helped smooth ruffled political feathers. The former Indian Prime Minister Narasimha Rao waxed eloquent about the possibility of SAPTA evolving into SAFTA (South Asian Free Trade Agreement), but most economists privately believed that SAARC can never achieve its full potential unless major political differences between members are settled. A major part of the problem in implementing the economic agenda stems from the near perennial Indo-Pakistan tension, which almost all officials are agreed upon. Members have identified 226 items for tariff reduction, but the future will definitely depend upon the course of Indo-Pakistan relations. Pakistan, for instance, has not yet granted the most-favoured nation status to India. On the other hand, Pakistanis complain about inordinate delays in getting clearances from India. Despite liberalisation and deregulation, businessmen in Pakistan feel compelled to follow the current political line. In Indo-Pakistan relations, economics clearly follows and is bonded to politics. Hence, if the Pakistani position is that Indo-Pakistan relations cannot improve until the Kashmir issue is resolved, then any encouragement of trade would be seen as a sell-out and tantamount to repudiating the governing national interest.

Such sentiments also prevail in India but, fortunately, to a much lesser extent. In May 1994, a group of very eminent Pakistani and Indian businessmen met informally at Delhi within the framework of a broad Indo-Pakistani dialogue and deliberated on the prospects of trade, economic cooperation, joint ventures in third countries (such as Bangladesh), and adopting a common stance on issues of mutual interest such as environment, human rights, technology transfers, and so forth. Both sides concluded that they had not really been pressing their respective governments for encouraging Indo-Pakistani trade and economic cooperation.(23)This opinion, that a lot more can be achieved by way of economic cooperation if only other differences are put aside, persists even today though the increased Indo-Pakistani tensions following the nuclear developments in the subcontinent have put a damper on the forthcoming (Tenth) SAARC Summit at Colombo. Many experts opine that the nuclear tests conducted by both India and Pakistan in May 1998 have dealt another blow, maybe a death blow, to the already tottering group of the world's seven poorest nations. It is felt that the possible escalation of a nuclear arms race in the subcontinent could not have come at a worse time. This is because, at long last, the seven SAARC members were in the process of getting their act together to break down tariff barriers and promote smoother trade among themselves. Today, doubts about economic cooperation have increased manifold as the region faces a very real threat of a nuclear flash-point. The smaller neighbours are especially worried about the escalating tensions as explained by a diplomat from Maldives, "As neighbours we are naturally concerned. India and Pakistan at peace with each other acts as a great stabiliser for the region." Added a Nepali diplomat, "Unless there is a dramatic change in relations between India and Pakistan, SAFTA is unlikely to be in place. At this rate, neither India nor Pakistan will be ready for abolition of trade barriers . . . I don't see anything happening unless the two countries decide to bury the hatchet."(24)

Thus, a whole string of issues still requires sorting out through concerted and collective efforts. Perhaps it was in realisation of this fact that at the Ninth SAARC Summit held in Maldives in May 1997, it was unanimously decided to work towards a 'SAARC Agenda for 2000 and Beyond,' a framework that would spell out the socio-economic targets that must be met by SAARC members by the year 2000. This action plan now remains the last hope for the rejuvenation of the SAARC.(25)

The growing emphasis on economic cooperation is significant in view of the fact that intra-regional trade among SAARC countries, as a percentage of their total world trade, is presently a low 3.4%. This is because of trade policies pursued in these countries that, along with sour political relationships, have tended to discourage cooperation within the region. Furthermore, the SAARC Survey of Development and Cooperation, published by the Research and Information System (RIS) points out the skewed nature of the distribution of imports by South Asian countries from their own region. For instance, India was dependent on South Asian supplies to the extent of 0.43% of its total imports, while Nepal's dependence was as high as 17.6%. Besides, the share of India's exports in intra-South Asian trade was 60% in 1993. As the pattern of trade stands today, India and Pakistan are the only countries to have a surplus of trade with the other countries in the region. The other five countries have large trade deficits, which are increasing over time. Where they are going to find the funds to finance these large deficits is anybody's guess. The following table shows the comparative figures of intra-regional trade in other important economic regions of the world.(26)

Table 1 : Intra-Regional Trade (as a Percentage of their Total World Trade)

Region 1980 1985 1990
East Asia 33.8 34.6 38.4
North America 31.5 33.0 37.3
European Community 52.4 57.5 63.4
SAARC 3.2 2.5 3.0

 The above observations also serve to strengthen the premises of Kolodziej's OWL theory of international relations as elaborated at the beginning of this study. The smooth conduct of international relations, indeed, depends upon the functionality of the imperatives of order, welfare and legitimacy. The quest for these imperatives has been severely hampered in South Asia due to the persistence of conflicts and crises, at both the intra- and inter-state levels. In fact, one can go a step further and delineate the circular nature of Kolodziej's theoretical premises. This is because not only do conflicts distort the OWL concerns, the converse also holds true. This can again be proved in the case of South Asia, which seems to have been caught in a frustrating bind of conflicts creating disorder, economic deprivation, and illegitimacy of the regime. For example, lack of attention toward the economic development of the Northeastern states of India has led to separatist and secessionist movements therein. The latter, in turn, contribute to a drain of the country's economic resources that could have been put to more constructive use in the first place. Likewise, India's vast army of lumpens, who are mostly unemployed and seething with rage and frustration over their inability to share the benefits a select few enjoy, are ready recruits for communal mass movements and violent acts in various parts of the country. Further, in today's era of transnationalism and interdependence, the dysfunctional OWL imperatives of one state can create similarly related problems for another. No wonder then, that South Asia has been described by Rajni Kothari as a "loveless hothouse where member states feed on each other's fears."(27) It is also widely held that South Asia is unlikely to emerge as significantly more stable for many years to come. This seems particularly true in view of the following observations.

Some Dimensions of the Indo-Pakistani Arms Race

From the preceding pages, it is clear that South Asia reasserts itself as an Indo-centric region wherein the only real threat to India's hegemonic stance comes from Pakistan. Similarly, Pakistan's perception of India as a major threat to its national existence, territorial integrity, and ideological identity has always been the main determinant of Pakistan's policies towards India. Such attitudes have only led to deteriorating relations between the two neighbours. As was explained by a well-known Pakistani scholar in early 1996, "The Western dim view of South Asia's likely behavioural pattern seems to be based not merely on the unenviable record of the past but also on the slow development of institutional control. Three wars and countless border clashes, including major border clashes like the Rann of Kutch, is indeed, not a record that one can be proud of . . . Deep-rooted suspicions, mutual distrust and antagonism continue to bedevil Indo-Pak relations even after the passage of 48 years."(28)No wonder then that piecemeal efforts over the years at de-escalation of tensions through confidence-building measures (CBMs), United Nations' peace-keeping, unilateral embargoes on arms transfers, and proposals for no-war pacts and joint defense have failed to blunt the long-standing military rivalry. The situation has barely changed in recent months, if anything, it has worsened. The following data reveals the extent to which both countries are competitors in military and related technological acquisitions.

While India's military budget for 1992 ran into the $US6.75 billions, Pakistan was also spending as much as $US3.29 billions on its militarization efforts. The share of India and Pakistan is 93% in the total military expenditure of South Asia and 87% in total armed forces personnel. Pakistan has also been involved in multimillion dollar deals with France, Sweden, and China to purchase submarines, reconnaissance aircraft, main battle tanks, and several missile systems. Even North Korea has been supplying medium-range missiles and nuclear technology, the latter supposedly for "peaceful purposes," to Pakistan. Both countries toyed around airborne warning and control systems (AWACs) in the 1980s. As regards India, during the past four decades its government has spent more than $US2 billion on its nuclear programme even as the vast majority of the population continues to live in appalling poverty. Indeed, since 1991, India has become the world's biggest importer of conventional weapons. According to figures from SIPRI, between 1988 and 1992, India imported $US12.2 billion worth of defence equipment as part of a major modernisation programme. Simultaneously, India is a major arms manufacturer in its own right. Unlike most developing countries, India is able to draw on its own indigenous defence industry, the biggest and most diverse in the South, and the world's third largest pool of scientists. India is now offering an entire range of armaments like off-shore patrol vessels, survey vessels, anti-tank and anti-aircraft ammunitions, and a series of other armaments for exports in a concerted effort to boost its defence items.(29)The following table provides further information about the amount of money spent by India and Pakistan on their respective military acquisitions. Also highlighted are the consequent military strengths of both sides.(30)

Table 2: Defence Expenditure of India and Pakistan as Percentage of GDP

Year India Pakistan
1986-87 4.02 7.57
1988-89 3.37 8.56
1990-91 2.90 7.16
1992-93 2.49 7.70
1993-94 2.68 6.96
1994-95 2.53 6.88
1995-96 2.39 6.88

 Though this table indicates that, as a percentage of GDP, the defence expenditure on both sides of the border has somewhat decreased, the figures are still alarming when considered from the viewpoint of pervasive poverty and under-development in the two countries. When most basic social services are missing in both India and Pakistan, the defence burdens in these countries continue to impose prohibitive social and economic costs on their people. Defence expenditure exceeds spending on education and health in Pakistan by about one-quarter. In India, defence spending consumes two-thirds as many resources as does the combined spending on education and health. On the other hand, the rich industrial countries spend three times as much on education and health as on their military.(31)

Recent reports indicate that India is considering an expenditure of $US4.5 billion for further upgrading its military arsenal. If this is true, then there is still time to consider the alternatives, since this amount can finance:

In consideration of this observation, perhaps it would also be an illuminating experiment if people in countries such as India were offered a free choice in a national referendum on whether they would feel more secure with the proposed purchase of arms or, alternatively, with the supply of basic social services such as those mentioned above.

Apart from such contorted ordering of priorities in India and the neighbouring countries, the sophisticated armoury of both India and Pakistan is lethal enough to create havoc in case of another war between these two constantly-at-loggerheads neighbours. The data given below substantiates this observation.

Table 3: India and Pakistan: Balance of Power in Critical Weapons Systems

Type India Pakistan
Main Battle Tanks 3,400 1,556
Self-propelled Artillery 180 240
Multirole Fighters 35 34
Attack Helicopters 36 20
Submarines 15 06
Aircraft Carriers 02 --

 In light of these statistics, it is clear that both India and Pakistan carry a heavy burden of defence expenditure. However, this burden is naturally much heavier on Pakistan, which has only one-seventh the population of India and one-fifth of India's GDP. While India spent 3.6% of its GNP on defence in 1994, Pakistan had to commit as much as 7%. While Indian per capita defence expenditure was $US10, Pakistan ended up spending about two and a half times as much - around $US26. While India finances 19 soldiers per every 10,000 citizens, Pakistan has to support 49 soldiers - and still the total strength of its army is only half that of India's. Such an imbalance is further aggravated by the fact that Pakistan hardly has any strategic depth even as several of its population centres and major military installations are located close to the Indian borders.(33)

The alarming militarization of these two neighbours notwithstanding, an infinitely more dangerous scenario emerges when one considers the long-standing nuclear ambitions of India and Pakistan. Indeed, the nuclear issue is the most worrying source of conflict between India and Pakistan, with Punjab, Siachen, and Kashmir providing the periodic flash-points. Until the nuclear tests of May 1998, India's nuclear policy had always been characterised by ambivalence and internal conflict. In the 1950s, while India was seeking to develop its role as a leader of the Non-aligned Movement in confrontation with the superpowers, Jawaharlal Nehru favoured a policy based on "permanent nuclear abstinence." The military and scientific establishments rejected this view and supported the development of nuclear weapons, however, arguing that this was necessary to counter "atomic colonialism."(34) The pro-nuclear position triumphed in the wake of conflict with China and the first Chinese nuclear test in 1964. The Indian nuclear programme accelerated after the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war, as New Delhi became increasingly concerned about a perceived Pakistan-China-US alliance. One year later, the Indian government decided to proceed with the production of a nuclear device and, in 1974, it conducted a test. Since then, several prophecies and wild claims about India's nuclear ambitions have surfaced periodically. Prior to the nuclear developments of May 1998, the most trumpeted assumption was that India has been producing components for 70 to 100 weapons as well as developing the technology for thermo-nuclear weapons.(35)

The Pakistani nuclear programme has essentially been a response to the Indian capability, although the Indian conventional threat is also a major source of concern. The objective has been to attain parity with India in the nuclear field where the Indian military forces would not look on Pakistan as a simple walkover.(36) Former Prime Minister Z.A. Bhutto had once declared that Pakistanis would rather eat grass than surrender the nuclear option, and successive Pakistani governments have continued to develop the nuclear option, despite growing American pressures. The Pakistani programme developed slowly during the 1980s and, according to some reports in 1990, during a crisis over Kashmir all the components for nuclear weapons were manufactured.

In 1994, a former Pakistani foreign minister had linked the resolution of the Kashmir dispute with the possibility of a nuclear war.(37) In September 1997, on the occasion of Pakistan's Defence Day to mark the 1965 Indo-Pakistani war, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif openly acknowledged that Pakistan possessed nuclear capability, saying that it was an "established fact" and the debate over the issue should stop now. He also reiterated Pakistan's stance on the Kashmir issue, demanding adherence to the Security Council resolutions - something that has always been unacceptable to Indian authorities. Around the same time, the former Indian Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral declared at an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) seminar that India can make nuclear weapons and would retain its nuclear option to meet "unforeseen circumstances," the latter an indirect reference to a possible armed clash with Pakistan over the Kashmir issue.(38)These statements were followed by high-level talks between the foreign secretaries and later between the prime ministers of both countries. But as always, the talks got bogged down primarily on the issue of Kashmir and also peace and security, including confidence-building measures between the neighbours.(39)On the contrary, Pakistan is now believed to have mapped out its strategy of violence and subversion in Kashmir when it was sure that it could keep the terrorists well-supplied with sophisticated weapons and when its nuclear programme was within sight of its goal. The Kashmir issue itself has become increasingly volatile as the spectre of subversion looms large over India because Pakistani-sponsored arms, mercenaries (mostly from Afghanistan), and funds from the Muslim world (in West Asia) are being poured into Indian borders.(40)

In a 1996 lecture on South Asia, former US Secretary of State James Baker warned that "the Indian subcontinent is one of the most dangerous places in the world because it has the maximum risk of seeing a nuclear war . . . The US has conclusive evidence that both India and Pakistan have the bomb."(41) Indeed, recent years have seen increased global apprehensions about an Indo-Pakistan nuclear race being just around the corner. True to such foreboding, as soon as it came into power in March 1998 , the new Indian government, led by the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), began issuing statements that hinted at a review of India's nuclear policy and the possible induction of nuclear weapons in its arsenal. This was followed by Pakistan's test-firing of an intermediate-range ballistic missile 'Ghauri' (1500 km range ) in early April, which afforded Pakistan an opportunity to steal a march over India - and, subsequently, renewed an earnest nuclear and missile row between the two countries.(42)

It would be pertinent to add here that India's own ballistic missile system includes two major rockets: a short-range 'Prithvi' (150-250 km range) and the intermediate-range 'Agni' (1500 km. range).(43)On May 11 and 13, 1998, India shocked the international community by conducting a series of nuclear tests in the desert region of Pokharan, Rajasthan (also the site for the first Indian PNE of 1974). Though a matching response from Pakistan seemed inevitable, it was hoped that intense international pressure would somehow succeed in convincing Pakistan not to follow suit. But on May 28, 1998, Pakistan detonated five nuclear devices, followed by one more on May 30. The reasons why India conducted its nuclear tests in the face of international opposition and at this stage of its slackening economic reforms process will be debated for a long time to come. The missile test by Pakistan, the ongoing nuclear and missile technology cooperation between the two neighbours of India (China and Pakistan), and the inability of the international regimes to enforce the nonproliferation obligations on the nuclear weapon powers are commonly believed to have made it unavoidable for India to join the nuclear weapons club. According to one of the country's leading nuclear experts, K. Subrahmanyam, given the overall national consensus for these tests, the idea of India staying short of weaponization was an illusion and that after these tests there is no looking back. At the same time, Subrahmanyam also warned that nuclear weapons have only one legitimate purpose and that is to deter intimidation by another nuclear weapon power as well as to retaliate if a nation has been struck with a nuclear weapon. Therefore, all said and done, India's sole justification for acquiring nuclear weapons should be to deter Pakistan and China if they ever resort to nuclear blackmail (either individually or collectively). Moreover, now that the Indian government has unequivocally and unilaterally proclaimed its commitment to a doctrine of no-first-use, the next logical step should be to offer to draft joint declarations for mutual no-first-use commitment with both China and Pakistan. The existing declaration between Russia and China could serve as a model here.(44)

It may also be noted here that there is very little recognition of the need for early warning indicators for conflict management or resolution in South Asia. As yet, there are no agencies that monitor potential conflicts, except for the national intelligence services, which are notorious for their bias and lack of credibility. There is no public agency that can work towards conflict prevention and no ombudsmen or other governmental institutions to facilitate preventive action. These observations hold true for South Asia as a whole. States tend to respond to conflicts as they arise, recognising political power only if it is sufficiently organised. Non-governmental bodies are mostly concerned with the results of violence and are involved in humanitarian work such as caring for refugees, displaced people, and the casualties of conflict. While there is a very large network of scholars within South Asia aware of the conflict situations, academic disciplines are not oriented toward action or policy. The challenge, therefore, is for existing scholarly networks now cooperating within South Asia to create fora for exchanging findings and views on new conflict dynamics. Such networks will need to develop linkages with nongovernmental bodies, so preventive actions may be placed high on the agenda of international affairs in South Asia.(45)

Given the close connection between economic and security issues, the challenge on the economic front must also be tackled more decisively. Apart from reviving economic reforms, both India and Pakistan must also face the economic repercussions of their nuclear (mis)deeds. Since the tests of May 1998, the United States and several of its allies (countries as well as major global financing bodies) have imposed varying degrees of economic sanctions on India and Pakistan. This also brings us back to the main argument of this study that inexorably binds a country's order, welfare, and legitimacy concerns together. It also makes one wonder if South Asia can ever boast of an extended crisis-free period during its contemporary history or if the South Asians themselves would ever learn from their past mistakes and try to make amends for a better and more peaceful future.

The attitude of belligerent Pakistani authorities can be quoted in this context: having conducted its nuclear explosions, Pakistan announced that it had "made the bare minimum response only to re-establish the strategic balance in the region."(46) Such a mind-set underlines the initial contention of this study that South Asian countries are not mature enough to realise the importance of cooperation above conflict. In these circumstances, can South Asia really be referred to as a 'region' at all? The Pakistani statement also sounds incredible in view of the fact that having entered a subcontinental nuclear game, India and Pakistan can never hope to have any sort of a strategic balance between themselves. All that remains now is a balance of terror with horrifying possibilities, some of which are discussed next.

Whatever the future outcome of South Asia's ongoing arms race may be, it must be realised that there are certain calculable as well as incalculable consequences of another war between India and Pakistan (assuming that it would now naturally involve nuclear weapons). Any use of nuclear weapons in the region, even on a small scale, would cause very high civilian casualties and collateral damage. Moreover, it might also cause escalation from a limited nuclear exchange into a major counter-strike on cities. Among the expected effects of a nuclear war that cannot be calculated would be irreversible changes in the weather pattern and environment, mutations in plant and animal life, and unpredictable changes in the socio-political order.(47)In fact, there are certain social and political factors peculiar to South Asian states that would affect casualties and destruction after the nuclear war. These include the inherent weaknesses of both India and Pakistan when viewed in the light of ethnic, communal, and separatist movements therein. Regional and ethnic tensions are likely to be exacerbated in the post-nuclear war period. Various ethnic and secessionist groups might view the destruction caused by nuclear war as a justification to break away from their respective states. Although in more economically developed countries, post-attack casualties could be limited by relying on medical shelter and economic resources of lesser allies, this would not be possible in the case of India and Pakistan. It would be impossible for either country to undertake an effective post-attack recovery without massive external assistance. And finally, it is conceivable that socio-economic and political crises following a nuclear exchange may lead to the break-up and disintegration of both India and Pakistan.(48)

As it is, following the nuclear tests of May 1998, there has been an almost total breakdown of civilian institutions in Pakistan. For instance, the Sharif government has called out the army to help run special military courts in the hope of controlling the ever-worsening sectarian violence in Karachi. Conspiracy theories apart, the truth of the matter is that, given the deteriorating law and order situation in Pakistan, the government is forced to fall back upon the army for performing civilian tasks. Indeed, armed with a nuclear deterrent against external foes, the army is more than eager to participate in national reconstruction, perceived by several critics as the first step toward reviving the democratic Pakistani polity. The regional movements for independence in Sindh, the NWFP, and Baluchistan also show no signs of abating. Economically, Pakistan's current crisis of payments will not go away unless it radically alters its foreign policy agenda. Both the IMF and other American-influenced funding bodies will not help Pakistan in any significant way unless the latter agrees to signing the NPT and the CTBT before the turn of the century.(49)

Neighbouring India has fared only slightly better following its own foray into the global nuclear club. While the social scenario has remained more or less unaffected, statistics for the year 1998 revealed how foreign investment fell drastically in the wake of the nuclear tests, and that sanctions imposed by America and other global economic players only served to accentuate the country's dismal economic performance. Moreover, India's long-tottering foreign policy has been shot to pieces even as the nation grapples with its new nuclear status and the burden of fresh challenges that have emerged therefrom. Relations with the US are still in the process of being re-established, with India having to make major concessions in nonproliferation and some economic issues. China remains hostile and many other major Western countries still refuse to cut back any of the sanctions they have imposed on India. Thus, given the repercussions of the nuclear developments on the one hand and the continued human deprivation on the other, it would perhaps have been wiser for both India and Pakistan to hold back their national euphoria over such misplaced priorities and instead recollect what Albert Einstein said after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945: "If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker."(50)

South Asia also holds the dubious distinction of lacking the economic incentives for regional cooperation. History shows that regional economic integration can be successful only if the countries concerned establish a commonality of political purpose. France and Germany fought three titanic wars between 1871 and 1945. Thus, the major driving force behind the EEC was a determination to forge closer links between these two historical rivals to prevent the occurrence of yet another world war. The Cold War gave Western European nations another urgent reason to band together economically to gain in strategic strength. Finally, a basic EEC rule was that only democracies could become members (which meant that Spain, Portugal, and Greece did not qualify tuntilill they discarded their dictatorships in the 1970s). This drives home the point that political harmonisation must precede economic harmonisation. The same pattern is evident in the ASEAN, which was formed as a political grouping opposed to the threat of Communist expansion from Vietnam and China. This helped bind together ASEAN members that were otherwise dogged by political disputes.

So what is the situation in South Asia? It is a common phenomenon in international relations that a small neighbour often suffers from a fear complex with regard to its larger neighbour, especially if there are unresolved and complicating factors in their bilateral relations. This is particularly true in the case of South Asia. India finds itself being regarded as a hegemonic Big Brother and bilateral disputes are especially acute with Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal. Indeed, the six other countries see SAARC as a forum for ganging up to withstand Indian hegemonic pressures. In 1993-94, India had a trade surplus with each of these other members. Trade liberalisation is bound to widen that surplus and increase resentment towards India. Levels of trade between India and its neighbours are low because their economies do not complement each other in resource availability, the structure and content of production, the supply of services, and cut-throat competitiveness. For example, Bangladesh, India, and Nepal compete with their jute products in the United Kingdom, EC and Japan. India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh compete with tea in the UK and EC. Similarly, there is bitter rivalry between India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh over the export of textiles to the US and EC, which has been compounded in recent years by complex rules and regulations regarding textiles in the international trading system. Trade between SAARC countries amounts to a dismal 3.4% of their total global trade. The corresponding figures for ASEAN, European Union (EU), and North Atlantic Free Trade Area (NAFTA) are 27%, 70%, and 19%, respectively. In contrast, all the SAARC members have attempted to diversify their trade relations away from India over the last few years. This trend is far more pronounced in the case of Indo-Nepal and Indo-Pakistan trade.(51)

In 1948-49, India's share in Pakistan's exports was almost 56% and 32% in imports. But today, a little over 1% of Pakistan's exports head for India while imports from India are a meagre 0.7%. Acknowledges Sameen Asghar, commercial counsellor at the Pakistan High Commission, "Non-tariff barriers in the form of political disputes, bureaucratic delays, and interference by the intelligence agencies have been obstructing trade between us and India."(52)There are growing concerns that South Asia might end up as a "backwater" at the dawn of the new century if concerted efforts are not made on a war-footing to nurture self-reliance in the region along with improved economic ties among the SAARC members. Even the newly-formed SAPTA has met with extremely limited success in promoting intra-SAARC trade. An inefficient infrastructure, low export capabilities, and weak industrial base must all be rectified to ensure the success of SAPTA.(53)Similarly, the hopes of forming a South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) are considered even more unrealistic. For instance, a free trade area implies dismantling customs barriers, which means all SAARC members will have to agree to a common import policy, either formally or informally. If, after forming the SAFTA, one country tries to retain sovereignty over import policy, for example if Pakistan insists on a 20% import duty on steel while India imposes only 10%, then no Pakistani will import steel directly, but will instead get it at a low import duty through India. Hence, Pakistan's sovereignty will remain only on paper, undermined by the reality of free regional trade. Therefore, it is felt that unless countries of a region enjoy considerable political harmony, they cannot possibly agree to concessions like surrendering sovereignty over their import policy. This is particularly true in South Asia where, being the strongest - that is, the Indian economy - will tend to dominate overall regional outcomes.(54)So although economic cooperation and even integration is very desirable in South Asia, it calls for creating a politically harmonious subcontinent first (akin to the prerequisites of order, welfare, and legitimacy in the domestic context), which is an extremely formidable task. It implies settling issues like the Kashmir imbroglio with Pakistan, sharing of land and boundaries with Bangladesh, re-negotiating the 1950 Treaty with Nepal, and so on. Given the track record so far, all this could well take an eternity.


It can be concluded that South Asia cannot be said to have evolved into a complete region because the propensity toward conflict has always prevailed over the desire for peace and stability among the states comprising this geographical area. Long-standing inter-state political differences and the actual occurrence of wars, the failure of the SAARC to emerge as a prominent instrument for promoting regional cohesiveness, the repeated inability of India and Pakistan to evolve a set of guidelines to peacefully resolve the Kashmir issue, the ease with which some external powers are able to manipulate and interfere in the domestic politics of South Asian states, the low levels of intra-SAARC trade and joint economic ventures, inadequate information and infrastructure facilities; independent and largely uncoordinated economic policies pursued by each country in the subcontinent, and the increasing militarization of most of the countries of South Asia at the expense of the much-needed investment in human development are all indicators of a lack of 'region-ness' among the South Asian countries. In light of these observations, the need of the hour is the total overhauling of the South Asian systems, keeping in mind the realities of the rapidly changing post-Cold War era. This fundamentally necessitates renewed and greater efforts on part of South Asian countries to evolve into a complete region, followed by the promotion of regional cooperation through action rather than pure rhetoric.

Some recent developments in South Asia do provide scope for optimism. On a significant level, the Indian Prime Minister has been making efforts to rejuvenate South Asian integration through the SAARC by chalking out a broad-based economic and social agenda for the overall prosperity of member-countries. This has been especially necessary in view of renewed fears that sanctions on India and Pakistan may slow down investment in all of South Asia and consequently, hurt the smaller members of the SAARC indirectly. But at the 10th SAARC Summit held in Colombo in late July 1998, all the other SAARC member countries accepted India's proposals for new initiatives in economy, science and technology, and health, largely ignoring Pakistan's insistence on security matters. Perhaps in realisation of the global trend that professes economic cooperation more than security compacts, the SAARC members also decided to renew their efforts toward the economic integration of the South Asian countries. They decided to take urgent measures to remove structural impediments in order to move speedily towards the goal of achieving a SAFTA by 2001. The leaders expressed the view that such a treaty must incorporate binding time-frames for freeing trade, measures to facilitate trade, and provisions to ensure equitable distribution of benefits of trade to all states. They also took note of the repercussions of unrestrained globalisation as witnessed in several Southeast Asian countries and vowed to learn from both the previously rewarding experiences as well as the recent mistakes of their Eastern neighbours. At the same time, the Indian authorities also advocated intensified bilateral dialogue with the ASEAN on political and strategic issues and offered to actively participate in giving a substantial boost to regional schemes for stepping up trade and investment.(55)

Perhaps again taking a cue from the ASEAN, India finally seems to have realised the significance of strengthening ties with the smaller neighbours. Therefore, it would be quite fair to state that 1998 has been a successful year for promoting both Indo-Sri Lankan and Indo-Nepalese relations, especially in the increasingly important spheres of trade and commerce. The visit of the Sri Lankan President to New Delhi in December 1998 culminated in a major bilateral fast-track Free Trade Agreement between the two neighbours. It also witnessed several fruitful discussions on some related procedural and intra-SAARC trade issues, thereby bringing the two countries closer on a common economic plank. Likewise, long-standing differences in Indo-Nepalese transit arrangements have been overcome with the recent signing of a Transit Treaty, which provides all (trade and commerce) routes that Nepal wants through India.(56)Moreover, on the all-important front of Indo-Pakistan relations, a major step toward improving relations was taken in early 1999 with the Indian Prime Minister embarking on what has been referred to as "bus diplomacy" - following his historic trip across the Indian border towards Lahore by a special bus on February 20, 1999.(57)Further, bowing to pressure from Pakistani businessmen, the Pakistani Prime Minister is said to have finally agreed to initiating several bilateral trade agreements with India. Maybe this is an acknowledgement of the greater resilience of the Indian economy.(58)Whatever the impetus, any new approach to bilateral relations on the basis of common economic goals and objectives is more than welcome in an otherwise bleak South Asian scenario.

It is hoped that such trends would be zealously encouraged with the desire of imparting the long-eluded quality of 'region-ness' to South Asia in the not-so-distant future. Lessons from other parts of the world (such as neighbouring Southeast Asia) prove the fact that regional organisations have thrived mainly on cooperation in trade and economic relations that bring visible and tangible benefits to the people. The emergence of several trading blocs and economic groupings all over the world clearly indicates that the economic survival and prosperity of any nation in this increasingly competitive post-Cold War era crucially depends on its ability to successfully integrate with other economies. Despite some indications to the contrary, it would not be erroneous to state that the prospects as well as compulsions for enhancing regional cooperation in South Asia are tremendous. In fact, according to certain analysts of South Asian politics, there has been a growing realisation among South Asian states of the importance and necessity of constituting South Asia as a region and looking for solutions to the problems of resource and security management within a regional framework.(59)Once such a path has been well and truly adopted, India in specific and South Asia in general can indeed begin to hope for a more effective role in the post-Cold War global environment. In this context, it must also be remembered that without an integrated economic, technological, and military technology, none of the South Asian countries can ever hope to become significant global players. Thus, akin to the problems of South Asia, the solutions also seem to be intrinsically inter-related in nature. It must still be hoped that, however complex, such solutions will ultimately be implemented in order to build an economically stronger and socio-politically more cohesive region called South Asia.

1.  For further details, see Edward A. Kolodziej, "The Emergence of the World Society: the Pursuit of Order, Welfare and Legitimacy," Working Paper, Urbana-Champaign: University of Illinois, 1994 and "Coping with Regional Conflict: A Global Approach," Term Paper, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, July 1993.

2.  See for instance, Sandy Gordon's arguments in India's Rise to Power in the Twentieth Century and Beyond.

3.  Mahbub ul Haq, Human Development in South Asia 1997, Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1997, pp. 2-3.

4. Ibid, p. 25. Some statistics taken from South Asia and the United States: After the Cold War, A Study Mission Report, New York: The Asia Society Publication, 1994.

5.  Details in Prakash Bajpai (ed.), Politics and Policies of Asian Nations, New Delhi : Anmol Publications, 1994, pp. 65-69.

6.  See reports in India Today, New Delhi, December 27, 1997, pp. 53-54 and June 8, 1998, pp. 46-47. Also see special report on the World Economic Forum '98 in The Indian Express, Baroda, December 7, 1998.

7.  Statistics form Mahbub ul Haq, op.cit. (no. 3), p. 33.

8.  Ibid, p.43. Also see Mushahid Hussain and Akmal Hussain, Pakistan: Problems of Governance, New Delhi : Konark Publishers, 1994, pp. 6-8 and a report on Pakistan's fifty years of Independence in Newsweek, August 4, 1997, p. 28.

9.  Taken from Aftab A. Kazi, "Ethnic Nationalism and Superpowers in South Asia: Sindhis and Baluchis," article in Chopra, Misra and Rasgotra (eds.), Southern Asia-Pacific: Perceptions and Strategies, New Delhi : Continental Publishers, 1988, pp. 154-155, and article by Asghar Ali Engineer, "Process of Nation-Building in South Asia" in Ramakant and Upreti (eds.), Nation-Building in South Asia, Vol. I, New Delhi : South Asian Publishers, 1991, p. 67. Other statistics quoted from reports in The Indian Express, Ahmedabad, June 14, July 5 & August 15, 1994. Also see "Walking the Razor's Edge," report on Pakistan by Zahid Hussain in India Today, December 7, 1998, p. 52.

10.  Statistics from Mahbub ul Haq, op. cit., (No. 3), p. 43. Also Tazeen M. Murshid, "The Sacred and the Secular: A Crisis of Governance in Bangladesh," in Subrata K. Mitra and Dietmar Rothermund (eds.), Legitimacy and Conflict in South Asia, New Delhi : Manohar Publications, 1997, p. 152. For a more detailed study of Bangladesh, see Rehman Sobhan, Bangladesh: Problems of Governance, New Delhi : Konark Publishers, 1993.

11.  Reported by S. Kamaluddin in an article titled 'Misplaced Hope' in Far Eastern Economic Review, June 25, 1998. Also see report on Bangladesh in Frontline, Chennai, February 12, 1999, pp. 56-57.

12.  See T. Louise Brown, The Challenge to Democracy in Nepal: A Political History, London and New York : Routledge, 1996, for a detailed analysis. Also see "In a Royal Fix," editorial in The Times of India, New Delhi, October 8, 1997.

13.  Mahbub ul Haq, op. cit., (No. 3), p. 50. See also '"Fifty Years of Sri Lankan Independence: The Past Holds the Clues," write-up by K.M. De Silva in The Indian Express, Baroda, January 29, 1998 and related report in The Times of India, New Delhi, August 9, 1998. For further details, see G.H. Peiris, "Economic Growth, Poverty and Political Unrest," article in K.M. de Silva (ed.), Sri Lanka: Problems of Governance, New Delhi : Konark Publishers, 1994, pp. 250-270.

14.  Statistics variously taken from Mahbub ul Haq, op. cit., (No. 3), pp. 58-60.

15.  Ibid., pp. 60-64.

16.  Refer to detailed arguments in Badruddin Umar, "India-Bangladesh: Love's labour Lost," article in Partha S. Ghosh, Cooperation and Conflict in South Asia, New Delhi : Manohar Publications, 1989, pp. 73-86, and Gowher Rizvi, "The Role of Smaller States in the South Asain Complex," in Regional Conflict and Global Security in the 1990s, Wisconsin-Madison : University of Wisconsin-Madison Publication, 1990, pp. 134-135. Also see report in India Today, New Delhi, March 15, 1994, pp. 96-99.

17.  Refer to Kaushik, Mahan and Ramakant (eds.), India and South Asia, New Delhi : South Asian Publishers, 1991, pp. 121-125

18. Quoted from Rajan Mahan, "The Nature of South Asian Region: Assonant Affinities, Dissonant Diversities" in Kaushik, Mahan and Ramakant (eds.), India and South Asia, New Delhi : South Asian Publishers, 1991, pp. 24-25. Also see Iftekharuzzaman, "The Nuclear Issue and Instability in South Asia: A Bangladesh Perspective," in P.R. Chari, Pervaiz Iqbal Cheema and Iftekharuzzaman (eds.), Nuclear Non-Proliferation in India and Pakistan: South Asian Perspectives, New Delhi : Manohar Publications, 1996, pp. 153-154 for a detailed argument.

19.  Statistics from SIPRI Yearbook 1997, Chapter 6, taken from the website: http://www.sipri.se/pubs/yb97/ch6.html . Also see Mahbub ul Haq, op. cit., (No. 3), pp. 80-81.

20.  Quoted in Partha S. Ghosh, Cooperation and Conflict in South Asia, New Delhi : Manohar Publications, 1989, p. 223.

21.  B. S. Shreekantaradhya, "Globalisation of Indian Economy: Strategies and Constraints" in S. Murty, The Changing Indian Economic Order, New Delhi : Indus Publication, 1993, p. 151. Also see Pran Chopra, "SAARC and the Assymetry Issue" in Poona Wignaraja and Akmal Hussain (eds.), The Challenge in South Asia: Development, Democracy and Regional Cooperation, New Delhi : Sage Publications, 1989 for a detailed discussion.

22.  Ibrahim Hussain Zaki, 'Recent Developments in SAARC and Prospects for the Future,' in South Asian Survey, 1:1, 1994, p. 2. Also see Vernon Hewitt, The New International Politics of South Asia, Manchester & New York : Manchester University Press, 1997, p. 223.

23. India Today, New Delhi, May 31, 1995, p. 149 and December 15, 1995, p. 125. Also refer to "Trade for Peace: Will India and Pakistan Work for Co-prosperity?," article in Indian Express, New Delhi, June 15, 1994. Also see Kamal Hossain, "Towards a Single Market for South Asia" in L.L. Mehrotra, H.S. Chopra and Gert W. Kueck (eds.), SAARC 2000 and Beyond, New Delhi : Omega Scientific Publishers, 1995, pp. 116-119.

24.  Reported in The Times of India, Mumbai, June 14, 1998.

25.  Reported in Haveeru Daily, Male,' Maldives, May 12, 1997.

26.  Table taken from a Study on Regional Economic Cooperation among SAARC Countries by the FICCI and the Institute of Economic Growth, New Delhi.

27.  Rajni Kothari, "Under Globalisation: Will the Nation-State Hold ?" in Economic and Political Weekly, July 1, 1995.

28.  Pervaiz Iqbal Cheema, "Nuclear Developments in Pakistan: Future Directions," in P.R. Chari, Pervaiz Iqbal Cheema and Iftekharuzzaman (eds.), op. cit., (No. 18), p. 143.

29.  Reported in Dawn, Islamabad, September 12, 1994 and in The Indian Express, New Delhi, March 20, 1995. Also see Rodney W. Jones, "Old Quarrels and New Realities : Security in Southern Asia after the Cold War," The Washington Quarterly, Winter 1992, pp. 115-120.

30.  Sunil Dasgupta, "South Asian Security: A Call to Arms," India Today, New Delhi, January 30, 1996, pp. 63-64.

31.  Mahbub ul Haq, op. cit., (No. 3), p. 80.

32.  Statistics taken from Mahbub ul Haq, op. cit., (No. 3), pp. 85 and 90.

33.  Ibid, p. 83.

34.  Achin Vanaik and Praful Bidwai, "India and Pakistan" in Regina Cowen Karp (ed.), Security with Nuclear Weapons? Different Perspectives on National Security, London: Oxford University Press, 1991, p. 261. Also see Ashok Kapur, "India: The Nuclear Scientists and the State, the Nehru and post-Nehru Years" in Etel Solingen (ed.), The Science Compact: Scientists and the State in Comparative Perspective, Ann Arbour: University of Michigan Press, 1995 for detailed argument.

35.  Leonard S. Spector, Deterring Regional Threats from Nuclear Proliferation, Carlisle, Penn.: Strategic Studies Institute Publication, 1992, p. 23. Also refer to Kalim Bahadur, "Pakistan and Problems of Peace, Security and Development in South Asia" in Mishra, Rasgotra and Chopra (eds.), Southern Asia-Pacific: Perceptions and Strategies, New Delhi : Continental Publishers, 1988, pp. 29-30.

36.  For a detailed discussion of Pakistan's nuclear history see Zafar Iqbal Cheema, "Pakistan's Nuclear Policies: Attitudes and Postures," in P.R. Chari, Pervaiz Iqbal Cheema and Iftekharuzzaman (eds.), op.cit., (No. 18), pp. 104-122.

37.  Seymour M. Hersh, "On the Nuclear Edge," The New Yorker, March 29, 1993 and Akhtar Majeed, "India Must Opt for the Bomb," article in The Times of India, Mumbai, September 2, 1994.

38.  As reported in The Times of India, New Delhi, September 8 and 9, 1997.

39.  Further details in reports from The Times of India, New Delhi, September 18 and 25, 1997.

40.  Details in Shekhar Gupta and Rahul Pathak, "Pan-Islamic Fundamentalism: Exporting Terror," India Today, May 15, 1994, pp. 45-48.

41.  See R.D. Kwatra, "Pakistan's Nuclear Agenda," The Indian Express, New Delhi, January 20, 1996. Also reports in The Indian Express, Baroda, April 18, 1996.

42.  See editorial in The Times of India, Mumbai, April 7, 1998. For further details see "Fire in the Sky," article by Harinder Baweja and Zahid Hussain in India Today Online, April 20, 1998.

43. Further details in R.R. Subramanian, "India's Nuclear Weapon Capabilities: A Technological Appraisal" in P.R. Chari, Pervaiz Iqbal Cheema and Iftekharuzzaman (eds.), op. cit. (No. 18), pp. 28-29

44.  See detailed argument in "Pokharan II and After," article by K. Subrahmanyam, in The Times of India, New Delhi, May 14, 1998.

45. Kumar Rupesinghe, "Strategies for Conflict Resolution: the Case of South Asia," in Kumar Rupesinghe and Khawar Mumtaz (eds.), Internal Conflicts in South Asia, London : Sage Publications, 1996, pp. 179-180.

46.  Stated in "The South Asian Nuclear Mess," the cover story by Amit Baruah in The Hindu Online, Vol. 15, No. 12, June 6-19, 1998, taken from the website: www.the-hindu.com/fline/fl1512/15120040.htm.

47.  Further details in S. Rashid Naim, "After Midnight" in Stephen P. Cohen (ed.), Nuclear Proliferation in South Asia, New York : Westview Press, 1991, pp. 29-30.

48.  Ibid, pp. 32-60.

49.  See "Out of the Barracks," article by Khaled Ahmed in The Indian Express, Mumbai, February 8, 1999 for further details on some post-May 1998 developments in Pakistan.

50.  Quotation taken from "Bomb, Science and the State," article by Partha S. Ghosh in The Hindu, New Delhi, June 9, 1998, p 10.

51.  Virendra Narain, "India and the South Asian Region: Hegemonism versus Mutually Beneficial Relationship" in Ramakant (ed.), South Asia: Some Reflections, Jaipur : Aalekh Publishers, 1993, p. 80. Also see Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar, "SAARCasm about SAPTA," article in The Times of India, Mumbai, May 8, 1995.

52.  Quoted in Shefali Rekhi, "Indo-Pak Trade: Talking Shop," in India Today, New Delhi, February 29, 1996, p. 109.

53.  Report by Swati Sucharita, The Times of India, New Delhi, May 4, 1995.

54.  For further details, see Ghanshyam N. Singh (ed.), The Economy of the SAARC Nations, New Delhi : Anmol Publications, 1993.

55. Reports in The Times of India, New Delhi, July 30 and August 1, 1998.

56. See reports in Frontline, Chennai, January 1, 1999, p. 21 and India Today, New Delhi, February 1, 1999, p. 51.

57. Refer to various reports in The Indian Express, Mumbai, February 19-21, 1999.

58. Reported by Shekhar Gupta in The Indian Express, Baroda, February 19, 1999.

59. See Subrata K. Mitra, "India and the South Asian Security Dilemma," article in Werner Kaltefleiter and Ulrike Schumacher (eds.), The Rise of Multi-polar World : Papers presented at the Summer Course 1997 on International Security, Frankfurt am Main :

Peter Lang GmbH, 1998, pp. 79-83 for a detailed argument.

Monica Bhanot is a lecturer at the Department of Political Science, Baroda University of India. She has recently completed her Ph.D. in International Relations, with specialization in South Asian politics, following a two-year long tenure at the South Asia Institute, University of Heidelberg in Germany. In Heidelberg, her doctoral work was supervised by Professor Subrata K. Mitra, Head of the Department, Heidelberg and former Director of the Centre for Indian Studies, University of Hull (U.K.).

OJPCR: The Online Journal of Peace and Conflict Resolution is published by the Tabula Rasa Institute, www.trinstitute.org.