The Politics of National Security in South Asia

South Asia has witnessed intense geopolitical rivalry between India and Pakistan since the late 1940s. Today this rivalry is in a state of flux as India continues its economic expansion, Pakistan is beset with internal unrest, and both attempt to manage complex domestic political agendas.  Instability among long-standing rivals has traditionally been a recipe for crisis, making the two states, their allies, and adversaries understandably concerned.  Understanding the compulsions of South Asia’s two primary military powers is thus critical to managing the rivalry itself and its spillover effects throughout South Asia.

Under Dr. Vipin Narang, this project accordingly focuses on two central questions.  The first asks how India’s coalition politics affects its internal and external security strategy and explores how India’s grand strategy is refracted through a chaotic domestic political lens. The second and related question explores perceptions of threat in the Pakistan Army—the state’s dominant institution—and how its worldview affects its willingness to reorient its power against domestic militancy. Understanding the coupling of these two nuclear powers and the drivers of their security strategy has clear real-world implications.  For instance, domestic instability in Pakistan could touch off a series of events that leads to inadvertent escalation in the region; alternatively, a nationalist and increasingly wealthy India might feel free to challenge the status quo in areas such as Kashmir.  How both nations can manage that instability and crawl away from conflict in the event of a crisis is of utmost importance to both scholars and policymakers.

Related Publications

Vipin Narang, “Pride and Prejudice and Prithvis: Strategic Weapons Behavior in South Asia,” in Inside Nuclear South Asia, ed. Scott Sagan (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2009).

This project is managed by Dr. Vipin Narang, Assistant Professor of Political Science