Anyone who follows the course of events on the India-Pakistan subcontinent will be struck by its utter immunity to the winds of change that have recently blown over theglobe. The former Soviet Union withdrew itstroops from Afghanistan, and the regime it had installed collapsed. The two Germanies reunited ; the Soviet empire in Eastern Europe collapsed, and the Soviet Union itself fell apart. The Israeli-Palestinian accord and the adoption of a constitution for a multiracial democracy in South Africa followed the trend.
Estrangement between India and Pakistan is a disturbing exception to that trend, particularly so because both states possess nuclear weapons capabilities, official denials notwithstanding . Since the end of British rule in 1947, nothing like a sustained period of detente has ever come about on the subcontinent. Rather, adversarial relations have been the abiding norm. In these countries where very large sections of people live in dire poverty, the enormous expenditure on arms and the tragedy of three wars is atestimony to the failure of leadership.