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The nuclear rivalry between India-Pakistan: A social constructivist analysis

Dr. Shoaib Pervez, Assistant Professor, Department of Social Sciences, Lahore School of Economics

The nuclear security relations between India-Pakistan are generally studied through traditional realist theories of state power. These theories are mostly interested in explaining rational motives behind states decisions to go nuclear and often give little credit to issues of state identity and norms behind such decisions of pristine importance. Treading on a different path this paper studies the nuclear rivalry between India and Pakistan by a social constructivist analysis based on socio-cultural norms of state identity. This social constructivist approach explains the strategic behavior of states by problematizing states identities and brings to light some socio-cultural norms which led to such decisions in the first place.

Here norm is defined as the expected behavior of an actor with a given identity. For example the expected behavior of an Indian elite towards Pakistan who belongs to right wing Bharatiya Junta Party will be that of war mongering and similarly all Pakistani elites carrying the identity of right will follow the same behavior towards their Indian counterpart. I have argued that the India and Pakistan rationale to tread on a nuclear path involves an equally important socio-cultural perspective in addition to a material calculus based on power and prestige. This perspective in the Indian case is tied to Hindutva norms of identity developed by stat elites with the rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 1990s. In the Pakistani case the identity of the state is being India-centric along with the slogan of having an Islamic bomb. An in-depth analysis of the missile programmes of both these two sates explains some interesting analogies related to the nomenclature of these missiles progarmmes. This study unravels the socio-cultural perspective of the nuclear rivalry between these two states which hitherto remained unexplained in most prior strategic studies. 

About the presenter:

Dr. Muhammad Shoaib Pervez joined LSE as an Assistant Professor in International Relations in the Faculty of Social Science in March 2012. Previously he has worked as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Punjab University, Lahore. Pervez did his PhD (International Relations) from Leiden University, Holland in the year 2010. He has won the prestigious Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan overseas scholarship for PhD studies abroad (2007-2010). His PhD dissertation is on ‘The socially constructed security dilemma between India-Pakistan: an exploration of norms for a security community’. His monograph, ‘Security community in South-Asia: India-Pakistan has been published across the world by Routledge (2012, New York). He has also written articles in foreign peer reviewed journals like Contemporary South Asia, Religion Politics &Ideology. He has presented his papers in numerous conferences both local and abroad. Pervez is also an HEC approved PhD supervisor for the subject of International Relations. Presently his interests lie in issues of security, strategic culture, identity politics and theories of International Relations particularly social constructivism. He can be reached at (+(0) 92-423-6560939,

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 4/04/2014 03:30:00 PM,

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