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Intra Regional Interactions


Hasan-Askari Rizvi

SOUTH ASIA IN WORLD POLITICS
Edited by Devin T. Hagerty
Oxford University Press, Karachi, 2006, pp. 312, Rs. 495.00

VOLUME XXXI NUMBER 3 March 2007

South Asia’s interaction with the rest of the world has varied over time, depending on the global agenda of the major powers, policy choices and internal politico-economic dynamics of each state of South Asia.  South Asian politics is complex because the states of the region, especially India and Pakistan, do not have a shared vision of regional security. India and Pakistan diverge in their approaches to the rest of the world. They have often devoted their diplomatic resources and skills to build pressures on each other. Some of the other states have also toyed with the idea of asserting their individual entity in foreign affairs but were not always successful.  All this adversely affected South Asia’s global role as an autonomous entity. It could not articulate an effective regional personality with intra-regional institutions and processes for coping with region-wide issues and extra-regional pressures with the exception of holding ritualistic regional conclaves and issuance of declarations for creating effective regional mechanisms.   There are additional reasons why South Asia could not articulate a widely shared regional outlook. The states of the region face problems of internal disharmony and other domestic challenges to their national identities. As long as these problems are not adequately addressed the states of the region are cautious in building region-wide institutional architecture and opening up cross border movement of people, services and goods. Their cautiousness can also be attributed to the actual or perceived linkages of one country’s internal ethnic and identity problems with the neighbouring state. In this way one country’s internal security is affected by the policies of the neighbouring state or by what happens in its domestic context, especially in the bordering areas. This problem is complicated by proliferation of small arms and terrorist groups in the region.   These factors make the study of South Asia a complex but interesting exercise. A comprehensive study needs to focus on domestic, bilateral, regional and global levels to adequately address the diversities and divergences in South Asia as well as its interaction with the outside world. The major feature of the book under review is that it offers a succinct analysis of these issues. Each chapter is self-contained, giving historical and analytical perspectives on the subject under study against the backdrop of theoretical formulations in international relations.         The first four chapters offer a concise statement on the foreign policies of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, ...


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