Might the status of India and Pakistan fundamentally change?

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, here is the LiveMint version, here is one excerpt:

The status quo between India and Pakistan is temporary. The world should start thinking about a future in which the two nations have a fundamentally different relationship.

Full reunification, of course, is difficult to imagine. But there are many possible options that fall short of that: a loose confederation, a NAFTA-like trade structure, a military alliance, even a broader regional reconfiguration under which each nation loses some territory but the remaining parts move closer together.


What about arguments on the other side? They are mostly longer-term.

First, it’s worth noting that major changes in borders — whether through conquest, secession or unification — are the historical norm. In this respect, the post-colonial era is an anomaly. One view is that this era of relative stability will continue. Another is that it will prove temporary, and frequent border changes will become common once again — just as the border between Russia and Ukraine is being contested again.

If this second view is correct, India and Pakistan are hardly such longstanding, well-defined nations that they are natural candidates to stay exactly as they are. Both their borders and their political arrangements can quickly change.

Just think how unlikely today’s configuration in the Middle East might have seem fifty years ago.  We now have Iran as the enemy of Israel and America, a democratic Iraq, a devastated Syria, a wealthy UAE friendly with Israel, a rather passive Egypt at peace with Israel, and Lebanon no longer the jewel of the region, among other major surprises.  Get over your recency bias!

I suspect Ethiopians and Eritreans will have a relatively easy time digesting this argument.


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