Discussion Document: The India—Pakistan conflict escalation framework

The India—Pakistan conflict escalation framework
Pranay Kotasthane, Pavan Srinath, Nitin Pai and Varun Ramachandra, The Takshashila Institution

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Executive Summary
The India—Pakistan conflict has variously been described as an ‘enduring rivalry’ or a ‘protracted conflict’ — characterised by its long duration, recurrence of armed exchanges, and the involvement of state and non-state actors.

  • To explain this complex conflict analytically, a framework is presented in this paper which highlights the following:
  • There is an asymmetry in nuclear & conventional thresholds between the two states
  • There are a total of five conflict levels — the levels of conflicts preferred by India are different from the ones desired by Pakistan
  • The different ways in which a conflict between the two states can escalate as a result of their differential conventional and nuclear thresholds
  • India will have to rely on its covert capabilities until it develops precise air-strikes as a credible option for eliminating terrorists
  • India will have to enhance the credibility of its nuclear deterrence against all weapons of mass destruction

This realist assessment of the nature of the India—Pakistan conflict will be able to better explain the nuances involved during times of hostility between the two countries. It will help the decision makers of both nation-states to make prudent judgment calls in de-escalating conflicts.

Download the discussion document in PDF format (339KB)

This discussion document can be cited as: Pranay Kotasthane,Pavan Srinath, Nitin Pai and Varun Ramachandra, “The India—Pakistan conflict escalation framework”, Takshashila Discussion Document, 2015-02. (2015) www.takshashila.org.in/1534524506254.