Aditi Malhotra & Usama Nizamani
Global division following Russia’s war in Ukraine has rekindled the public debate on ‘strategic autonomy’ in South Asia. According to S. Kalyanaraman, “strategic autonomy denotes the ability of a state to pursue its national interests and adopt its preferred foreign policy without being constrained in any manner by other states.” This concept has gained greater salience as both India and Pakistan have attempted to define their viewpoints amidst their longstanding rivalry and relationships with other global powers. While analysts have viewed India and Pakistan from all possible lenses, the subject of ‘strategic autonomy’ has remained one of the least analyzed and understood factors. Furthermore, few have attempted to compare how New Delhi and Islamabad perceive the idea of strategic autonomy and practice it.
India’s pursuit of strategic autonomy is connected to its deep-rooted skepticism towards dependency on or domination by a single foreign power. For Pakistan, the quest for strategic autonomy mainly forms a response to its security threat perceptions vis-a-vis India. The rise of China and the ongoing war in Ukraine provide contemporary examples to assess how India and Pakistan practice strategic autonomy.
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