The use of paradiplomacy

The use of paradiplomacy



Recently, Shiromani Akali Dal party in Punjab state has released its manifesto, in which it has argued to exchange the territory of kartarpur sahib with pakistan and to increase economic engagement in both the punjabs.


This is an example of paradiplomacy where sub-state actors want to interact with foreign countries to build peace and to engage economically with the region. C. Rajamohan has argued in an article written in Indian express that, paradiplomacy can be an effective tool for building cordial relations with pakistan and to strengthen regional connectivity.


In this article we will see how paradiplomacy can be an effective tool for South Asian region, the larger context of India- pakistan relations and what can be the policy of India to reduce tensions in the region.


What is paradiplomacy?

Paradiplomacy refers to the diplomatic activities conducted by subnational entities, such as states, regions, provinces, or cities, on the international stage. While traditionally diplomacy was conducted exclusively by national governments, paradiplomacy has gained prominence as subnational entities seek to engage directly with other countries, international organizations, and other subnational entities.

Paradiplomacy can take various forms, including trade missions, cultural exchanges, economic cooperation agreements, and environmental initiatives. The case of building a transboundary economic zone in the SAD manifesto is an example. It allows subnational entities to pursue their own foreign policy objectives, often in areas such as economic development, tourism promotion, and environmental protection.

This phenomenon has become increasingly common in recent decades as globalization has empowered subnational actors to engage directly with the international community. Paradiplomacy can complement national diplomacy by fostering international cooperation and facilitating the exchange of knowledge and best practices between subnational entities around the world.


How paradiplomacy can be used in case of pakistan 

India could potentially use paradiplomacy as a strategy to enhance relations with Pakistan by engaging with subnational entities within Pakistan, such as provinces, cities, or regions. Here are some ways in which India could utilize paradiplomacy in its relations with Pakistan:

    1. Cultural Exchanges: Facilitating cultural exchanges between Indian states and Pakistani provinces can help build people-to-people ties and promote understanding between the two countries for example kartpur sahib corridor. This could involve organizing events such as art exhibitions, film festivals, or cultural performances.
    2. Trade and Economic Cooperation: Indian states and Pakistani provinces could explore opportunities for trade and economic cooperation at the subnational level. This will increase the economic interdependence and  prosperity in the region which can lead to initiation of peace talks  This could involve establishing trade missions, organizing business delegations, and signing economic cooperation agreements to promote bilateral trade and investment.
    3. Tourism Promotion: Encouraging tourism exchanges between Indian states and Pakistani provinces can help boost cross-border tourism and promote greater interaction between the people of both countries. This could involve promoting tourist destinations( eg,. kartarpur), organizing joint tourism campaigns, and facilitating visa liberalization for tourists.
    4. Environmental Initiatives: As South Asia is most vulnerable to environment and pollution problems. Collaboration on environmental initiatives such as water management, climate change mitigation, and renewable energy projects can provide common ground for cooperation between Indian states and Pakistani provinces. This could involve sharing best practices, conducting joint research projects, and implementing collaborative environmental projects.
    5. Education and Academic Exchange: Promoting education and academic exchange programs between universities and research institutions in Indian states and Pakistani provinces can help foster intellectual exchange and cooperation between the two countries. This could involve facilitating student exchanges, joint research projects, and academic conferences.
    6. People to people connect: South Asia is an Indo-centric region i.e. all the neighboring countries share commonality with India because they are part of the common Indic civilization . That’s why paradiplomacy can open the gate for more people traveling across the border which can strengthen the people to people connect which can build a positive narrative for India.

Other challenges in Ind-Pak relations 

India-Pakistan relations face numerous challenges, rooted in historical, political, and strategic factors. Some of the key challenges include:

  1. Kashmir Dispute: The longstanding dispute over the region of Kashmir remains a central issue in India-Pakistan relations. Both countries claim Kashmir in its entirety and have fought multiple wars and engaged in numerous skirmishes over the region.
  2. Terrorism and Cross-Border Violence: Pakistan’s alleged support for militant groups operating in Indian-administered Kashmir, as well as terrorist attacks on Indian soil, have strained relations between the two countries. India accuses Pakistan of sponsoring terrorism, while Pakistan denies these allegations.
  3. Water Disputes: The sharing of water resources, particularly the Indus River system governed by the Indus Waters Treaty, has been a contentious issue between India and Pakistan. Disputes over water usage and hydroelectric projects have periodically escalated tensions between the two countries.
  4. Nuclear Rivalry: India and Pakistan are both nuclear-armed states, and their nuclear capabilities add a dangerous dimension to their rivalry. The threat of nuclear escalation further complicates efforts to resolve bilateral disputes and maintain stability in the region.
  5. Cross-Border Incidents and Ceasefire Violations: Incidents along the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir and other border areas, including ceasefire violations and skirmishes between the two countries’ armed forces, frequently occur and escalate tensions.
  6. Lack of Trust and Communication: Decades of conflict, mistrust, and unresolved disputes have eroded trust between India and Pakistan. The absence of sustained diplomatic dialogue and communication channels exacerbates tensions and limits opportunities for conflict resolution.
  7. Regional Influence and Strategic Competition: India and Pakistan engage in strategic competition not only in South Asia but also in the broader region. Their rivalry affects regional dynamics and complicates efforts to address common challenges such as terrorism, extremism, and economic development.
  8. Domestic Politics and Nationalism: Domestic political considerations, nationalist sentiments, and public opinion in both countries often shape the rhetoric and policies of their respective governments, making it difficult to pursue conciliatory measures or compromise.

Way forward 

Moving forward in India-Pakistan relations requires a combination of diplomatic, political, and confidence-building measures aimed at addressing core issues, promoting dialogue, and fostering cooperation. Here are some potential ways forward:

  1. Resumption of Dialogue: Both countries should prioritize the resumption of bilateral dialogue at various levels, including high-level talks between government officials, Track II diplomacy involving non-governmental actors, and people-to-people exchanges. A sustained and uninterrupted dialogue process is essential for building trust and addressing contentious issues.
  2. Conflict Resolution Mechanisms: Establishing and strengthening mechanisms for conflict resolution and crisis management can help prevent escalation during times of tension. This could include hotlines between military and diplomatic authorities, protocols for managing cross-border incidents, and confidence-building measures along the Line of Control in Kashmir.
  3. Addressing Core Disputes: Both countries should demonstrate political will and flexibility in addressing core disputes, particularly the Kashmir issue. While a comprehensive resolution may be challenging, confidence-building measures, such as cross-border trade and travel facilitation in Kashmir, can help create a conducive environment for dialogue.
  4. Terrorism and Cross-Border Violence: Pakistan must take concrete action to dismantle terrorist networks operating on its soil and prevent cross-border infiltration into India. Enhanced cooperation on counterterrorism efforts, intelligence sharing, and joint operations against terrorist groups can help address mutual security concerns and build trust.
  5. Trade and Economic Cooperation: Promoting trade and economic cooperation can provide mutual benefits and create incentives for peaceful relations. Both countries should explore opportunities for enhancing bilateral trade, removing trade barriers, and investing in cross-border infrastructure projects to boost economic interdependence and stability in the region.
  6. Water Diplomacy: Addressing water disputes through dialogue, cooperation, and adherence to existing agreements such as the Indus Waters Treaty is crucial for ensuring sustainable management of shared water resources. Both countries should refrain from unilateral actions that could jeopardize water security and escalate tensions.
  7. Track II Diplomacy and Public Diplomacy: Track II diplomacy involving non-governmental actors, academics, and civil society can complement official efforts by fostering informal dialogue, generating creative solutions to longstanding issues, and building bridges between communities. Public diplomacy initiatives, such as cultural exchanges, sports diplomacy, and youth engagement programs, can help promote understanding and goodwill among the people of both countries.
  8. Regional Cooperation: India and Pakistan should explore opportunities for regional cooperation and engagement within South Asia. Platforms such as the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) provide avenues for addressing common challenges, promoting economic integration, and building trust among neighboring countries 


Download plutus ias current affairs eng med 22nd May 2024


Mains question 

Explain how paradiplomacy can be used as a tool to strengthen regional connectivity in South asia.


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