One of the most volatile relationships in the world is between India and Pakistan. The age old us v/s them and who turns out to be more powerful is what this article will attempt at answering. At the onset, it does seem like India will be the obvious winner, but as the legendary Chinese war general said, “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting”. Thus, this article will not make an apple-to-apple comparison between the military strength of both countries, but the diplomatic and espionage strength of each.
From 1947-1991 USSR supported India over the core issue of Kashmir. This does not, in any way, mean that Pakistan is an isolated country in this issue; it enjoys strong alliances not just with China but has been a part of major alliances like CENTO and SEATO. Both were primarily created to contain the communist movement from spreading, however as an active member of CENTO, Pakistan was able to train and consequently develop nuclear capabilities.
SEATO on the other hand, helped Pakistan train it’s military in a sophisticated manner and thereby, it is important to consider the importance of such historical military alliances. Currently, it is a full member of IMF and has received several monetary aids from it.
Pakistan is also the founding member of ECO, an economic co-operation organization, between Iran, Turkey and Pakistan. The bilateral relationship between US and Pakistan is well known, but it also enjoys the very cordial relationship with countries like Japan, that helped Pakistan in a lot of infrastructure projects, as well as Germany, which is the fourth largest trade partner with Pakistan.
However, compared to the participation and global presence of India on the world diplomatic stage, Pakistan has but a minor side role. For a very brief idea, chew on this thought, India has 156 diplomatic missions within its borders, compared to 78 in Pakistan.
India is an active member of most international organizations, from renowned organizations like IMF, Interpol, etc. to lesser-known yet equally important ones such as International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (ITSO) and International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). Not to mention that the current President of NDB, BRICS’ multilateral development bank, is the iconic Mr. KV Kamath.
Even though in diplomacy we come out as a clear winner, it is espionage that the line gets a bit muddled. Pakistan’s ISI has been historically known to fund and support terrorist organizations like Taliban, as noted by the Human Rights Watch. The famous bombing of the Indian Consulate in 2008 was also alleged to be performed by ISI.
With regards to their activities in India, there is no dearth of the disturbance that they have caused, they assisted the Khalistan movement, as indicated by this South Asia Analysis Group’s report. And lastly, the operation Tupac, an operation to support the freedom fighters in Kashmir, which is largely responsible for the violence experienced in the state, is not just an ISI operation anymore but is now part of Pakistan’s state policy.
Compared to this, RAW’s most prolific operation was the Independence of Bangladesh, as a direct confrontation with Pakistan.(Operation Smiling Buddha, primarily being a covert operation against the US).
In terms of diplomacy, there isn’t an iota of doubt that Pakistan not just falters, but lags far behind and can barely be considered competition to our diplomatic strengths.
However, in espionage, it is a subjective call whether one large attack triumphs over a strategy of repeated small ones. In terms of nuclear capabilities, Pakistan might have more number of warheads, yet, India’s nuclear triad (capability of nuclear attack via land (ICBM), water(SLBM) and air) will always act as a huge deterrent and most likely prevent the first strike from Pakistan.
Lastly, war is never a solution, but that doesn’t mean we should not be well prepared for it, in the words of George Washington, “To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.”