The IUP Journal of International Relations
Mapping the Role of Political Narratives in the Protracted Conflict Between India and Pakistan

Article Details
Pub. Date : Oct, 2020
Product Name : The IUP Journal of International Relations
Product Type : Article
Product Code : IJIR11020
Author Name : Akshaya Saroha
Availability : YES
Subject/Domain : Arts & Humanities
Download Format : PDF Format
No. of Pages : 12



This paper examines the role of political narratives in the making of a conflict and its resolution. India-Pakistan rivalry has persisted far too long now. It has been one of the most protracted and intractable conflicts. Furthermore, this paper develops a linkage between the distorted narratives and intractability of a conflict. Intermittent military engagement has sowed the seeds of mutual distrust between India and Pakistan. Nevertheless, the lamentable part is that the rivalry has been accentuated by distorting the narratives. Narrative is a very powerful force in the realm of international political arena. It is strong enough to change the trajectory of any relationship that exists in international system. It is notable that the distorted narratives are very much useful for the ruling elite to divert the attention of the masses from the pressing demands such as employment, education, decent standard of living so on and so forth. Political narratives in Pakistan against India still breed fear psychosis in the civil society of Pakistan. Among these, one has been that India has not accepted the partition of Pakistan as a reality and would try to undo the partition eventually. In the light of the above-mentioned correlation between distorted political narratives and sustainability of the conflict, this paper dwells on how the deconstruction of the political narratives (which portray false political realities) is quintessential to understand the practical details of the conflict.


Recently, the study of narratives has featured importantly in the academic discipline of humanities and social sciences. An event of history cannot be studied with scientific precision. Every single event always remains susceptible to multiple interpretations. The link between political narratives and political reality is always contested. Because political narratives always bear tremendous pressure of ideological focal points, as a result narratives may not portray the reality of an event. The role of narratives is central in understanding the world views. "We dream in narrative, day dream in narrative, remember, anticipate, hope, despair, believe, doubt, plan, revise, criticize, construct, gossip, learn, hate and love by narrative".1 Every society is flooded with the political narratives. However, not necessarily they depict the political reality. Sometimes, a past can be invented to make it usable for the present's political needs. "The dramatis personae of national history, like its landmarks, are chameleon, disappearing apparently without a trace and then reappearing in new guises" (p. 120).2 Hence, the ruling elite to pursue their skewed political interests can use narratives. Thus, a political narrative is one, which emerges from a formal political forum, such as a parliament, a cabinet, party meetings or political demonstrations, or as narrative produced by politicians and public officials in the course of their duties (p. 247).3


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