Building Trust: Cooperation between Rivals India and Pakistan


History & Political Science

Document Type


Publication Source

The Round Table. Volume 108, Issue 2, Pages 189-201.

Publication Date



This article uses the case study of India–Pakistan to explore how rivals build cooperation over time. India and Pakistan have shared an intense rivalry since their independence and subsequent partition in 1947, having fought three major wars and several militarised disputes over the last 70 years. The authors use network analysis to study the pattern of all treaties between the two countries between 1947 and 2017. This expects rivals to focus on non-security issues such as trade as they work to build trust and patterns of cooperation. The article finds that given the long and intense rivalry between the two neighbours, and the subsequent lack of trust, India and Pakistan have adopted a functionalist approach towards building cooperation; most of their bilateral treaties are related to non-security issues such as trade, telecommunications, transport and technology. Only a few of their treaties are nested within prior treaties, indicating ad hoc rather than institutionalised cooperation. The authors also find that efforts by the two states to build cooperation has not spilt over into areas related to security, pointing to a continued lack of trust between the two states. The article notes the implications of this approach for the future of Indo-Pakistani ties as well as peace on the subcontinent.


treaty nestedness, India, Pakistan, rivalries, treaties, network analysis