The Nexus between Domestic Politics and Bilateral Relations: Exploring India-Pakistan, Pakistan-China, and China-India Dynamics
Foreign policy is an extension of domestic politics in myriad ways. However, no meta-theory offers a framework of analysis that could explain the nexus between domestic politics and foreign policy within the bilateral relations of three politically and culturally distinct states i.e. China, India, and Pakistan.
In this paper, Sadia Tasleem explores the nexus between domestic politics and foreign policy to explain what do the contemporary domestic political trends in China, India, and Pakistan indicate about the future of their bilateral relations. Tasleem identifies the most relevant and important domestic political determinant of bilateral relations in each case (India-Pakistan, China-India, and Pakistan-China) and how it affects the bilateral relations in the respective dyads as well as what those effects portend for the future of these relations. Tasleem argues that the situations in which a small elite dominates both the discursive trends and policymaking may result in malleable notions of national identity. This provides the elite, flexibility in shaping and reorienting foreign policy (when they want). On the other hand, the situations in which foreign policy is contingent upon national identity conception as articulated by the mainstream political parties with a strong support base among the masses are highly susceptible to the electoral pressures, shrinking the space for major shifts.
This report was produced under the China-India-Pakistan Nuclear Trilemma project, a collaboration between the Asia-Pacific Leadership Network and the Toda Peace Institute. The initiative is an effort at mapping the contours of China, India, and Pakistan’s nuclear relationship, identifying the key drivers of conflict, and exploring practical measures for nuclear risk reduction, crisis stability, and confidence building amongst the three countries.
About the Author
Sadia Tasleem teaches at the Department of Defence and Strategic Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University, Pakistan and is currently a PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia, Canada. Her PhD research focuses on the hegemony of nuclear deterrence in Pakistan. She is a member of the Asia-Pacific Leadership Network for Disarmament. Previously, she worked as a senior research scholar at the Institute for Strategic Studies, Research and Analysis at the National Defense University; a research associate at the International Islamic University; and a lecturer at the Department of International Relations, National University of Modern Languages in Islamabad. As a Robin Copeland Memorial Fellow for Nonproliferation from 2014 to 2015, she undertook a research project entitled “Creating a Constituency for Unilateral Nuclear Arms Restraint in Pakistan.” She has also done extensive research on various aspects of Strategic Stability, Nuclear Learning and the implications of Knowledge Diffusion as a core member of the Program on Strategic Stability Evaluation (POSSE).
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