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Deadly Impasse: Indo-Pakistani Relations at the Dawn of a New Century, Sumit Ganguly

Reviewed by Paul Kapur



Sumit Ganguly’s book Conflict Unending (2001) traced Indo-Pakistani security relations from the dissolution of British India and independence in 1947 through the 1999 Kargil War. In his new book, Deadly Impasse: Indo-Pakistani Relations at the Dawn of a New Century, Ganguly takes up where he left off, offering a detailed history of the two countries’ security relations from Kargil to the present day. The book is not simply an empirical account, however; Ganguly uses it to make a theoretical point about the causes of the Indo-Pakistani rivalry.

Scholars and commentators generally characterize conflict between India and Pakistan, including Pakistan’s efforts to seize Indian Kashmir, as a security competition. Packed into that label is the assumption that the motive underlying Pakistani efforts to upset South Asia’s territorial status quo is Pakistan’s desire to make itself safer. The implications of this assumption are significant. First, it means that Pakistani behavior is susceptible to external influence; if India changes its behavior, it can expect that Pakistan will do the same. Second, it means that the optimal Indian policy would be one of reassurance. India would be able positively to influence Pakistan not through the use of threats or coercion but rather by assuaging its security concerns.


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