Pakistan and India, the failure of nation state idea

Pakistan and India are two foremost examples today of why the idea of nation state as organization of humanity has turned out to be an unmitigated disaster at least in this Century. The Peace of Westphalia in 1648 was no doubt an iconic achievement bringing to an end the wars of religion in Europe and establishing the idea of state sovereignty. However it no longer has any relevance in the modern world where we must be governed by globally accepted minimum standards of human conduct that should trump questions of sovereignty and national identity. The two South Asian nuclear powers are essentially mirror images of each other and this is not a new development. Modi is merely taken the mask off.

Many of our indophile Pakistani ‘liberals’ have tried to argue that India is only becoming like Pakistan now. The difference between Pakistan and India has always been that Pakistanis have never attempted to be subtle about their nationalist bigotry. India has always expressed its bigotry subtly, without openly enshrining it in the Constitution like Pakistan has since 1973. Just as Pakistan has been a badly majoritarian Sunni Muslim state especially after the departure of East Pakistan, India has been a deeply communal, casteist and racist state since its very inception.


The writer is a practicing lawyer and a Visiting Fellow at Harvard Law School in Cambridge MA, USA. He blogs at, twitter @therealylh

Published in Daily Times, May 7th 2018.

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