A new model to understand the India–Pakistan rivalry

Table of contents

List of Figures
List of Tables
1 Introduction: International Relations Theory and the India-Pakistan Rivalry
2 The Existing Conceptualizations of Rivalry
3 Conceptualizing the Indo-Pakistani Complex Rivalry: A Hub-and-Spokes Framework
4 The Shock of Partition and the Initiation of Complex Rivalry, 1947-58
5 The Development of Complex Rivalry – I: Intensive Phase, 1959-1972
6 The Development of Complex Rivalry – II: Abeyant Phase, 1972-89
7 The Maintenance of Complex Rivalry, 1990-2020
8 Prospects for Rivalry Termination


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.

Surinder Mohan is Assistant Professor in the Department of Strategic and Regional Studies at the University of Jammu in India.

“A comprehensive treatment of the India-Pakistan rivalry, with a new model of complex rivalry that has broad applicability. This work demands attention from South Asian and rivalry scholars alike.”
—Paul F. Diehl, University of Illinois

- Paul F. Diehl

“A succinct but remarkably comprehensive account of India-Pakistan rivalry from the very beginnings to the present. It exposes the profound dangers of unending conflict while situating the issue in a theoretical framework that can potentially help us think through how stability and peace may be achieved some day.”
—Pervez Hoodbhoy, professor and author, Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad 

- Pervez Hoodbhoy

“Much of the rivalries literature relies on quantitative scholarship; this book adds to that by using a number of findings in the literature to provide stronger insight into one of the longest lasting and, arguably, most dangerous rivalries since the end of World War II.”
—Eric W. Cox, Texas Christian University

- Eric W. Cox

“This is a fine, subtle and sophisticated analysis of the India-Pakistan conflict. It draws heavily on prominent theories of interstate conflict (e.g., enduring rivalries, power transition, democratic peace, territoriality, etc.) and weaves these into an explanation of the India-Pakistan rivalry. The book provides a cross-paradigmatic framework for understanding the conflict and outlines the creation of what the author calls a ‘complex rivalry.’”
—Daniel S. Geller, Wayne State University

- Daniel S. Geller

“This thoroughly researched volume—with nearly 50 pages of bibliography—is a comprehensive examination of the India-Pakistan relationship that explores this continuing rivalry from the perspective of political science theory.”


"This volume is an essential reading for those interested in South Asian security matters." 
--Journal of Peace Research

- Journal of Peace Research