India and Pakistan: Forever rivals?

In this UpFront special, two former foreign ministers debate what it will take to fix India-Pakistan relations.

Seventy years since partition, and the independence of India and Pakistan, relations between the two nations remain turbulent. 

There have been four major conflicts and numerous skirmishes since 1947 and yet the territorial disputes between India and Pakistan remain unresolved, and bilateral relations are marked by mutual mistrust. 

So, can the two neighbours and nuclear powers ever become friends? What will it take to resolve the seemingly intractable Kashmir conflict? And how much of today’s hostility can be traced back to partition?

To debate this in this UpFront special, we’re joined by a former foreign minister of each country: Hina Rabbani Khar, Pakistani foreign minister from 2011 to 2013, and Shashi Tharoor, Indian  minister of state for external affairs from 2009 to 2010 and a current opposition MP.

“I believe the fundamental problem that prevents meaningful friendship is, and I’m being very blunt here, the nature of the Pakistani state,” says Tharoor, author of the 2017 book Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India. “In India, our state has an army; in Pakistan the army has a state. And the army’s desire to continue to control an extraordinary set of resources and privileges … gives it a vested interest in stirring up troubles.”

“[W]hereas in Pakistan the military historically had a role, and now the democratic dispensation is eagerly taking its space back,” says Khar, who remains a member of the Pakistan People’s Party, currently in opposition. “I fear that in India, the direction is quite the opposite.”

For more on this topic, extra content will be posted to our Facebook page Saturday, July 29 at 14:00GMT.

Editor’s note: This debate was recorded just prior to the resignation of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Follow UpFront on Twitter @AJUpFront and Facebook.