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Complex Rivalry: The Dynamics of India-Pakistan Conflict
by Surinder Mohan
University of Michigan Press, 2022
Cloth: 978-0-472-07559-1 | eISBN: 978-0-472-22063-2 | Paper: 978-0-472-05559-3


While a substantial body of research explains how the conflict between India and Pakistan originated and developed over time, a systematic and multivariate inquiry cutting across different IR paradigms to understand this rivalry is rare or limited. Surinder Mohan contributes to the understanding of India and Pakistan’s rivalry by presenting a new type of framework, also known as complex rivalry model. This comprehensive model, by not limiting its theoretical tool-kit to any single paradigm, is unique in its approach and better positioned to debate and answer baffling questions that the single-paradigm-based studies address rather inadequately and in isolation.

This book, through an examination of fifty-seven militarized disputes between 1947 and 2021, explains the life cycle of India-Pakistan rivalry in four phases: initiation; development; maintenance; and a possible transformation/termination. Mohan delineates five specific conditions that evolved the subcontinental conflict into a complex rivalry: first, its survival in spite of the Bangladesh War and the end of the Cold War; second, its linkage with other rivalries; third, the inclusion of nuclear factor; fourth, the dyadic stability in the militarized disputes and hostility level despite changes in the regime type; and fifth, the dyad’s involvement in a multilayered conflict pattern. To break this deadlock and mitigate their longstanding differences, Mohan proposes that India and Pakistan must reframe their national priorities and political goals so that the new situation or combinations of conditions would assist their peace strategists to downgrade the dyadic hostility and implement risky policies to make headway to a promising transformation.

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