Our interactive map demonstrates how the territorial claims of India, Pakistan and China would change the shape of South Asia THE late Richard Holbrooke, the Obama administration’s envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, had many virtues as a diplomat, but tact was not among them. His description of his theatre of operations as “AfPak” infuriated the Pakistanis, who wanted the Americans to regard their country as a sophisticated, powerful ally worthy of attention in itself, not just as a suffix to the feuding tribesmen next door. But that was not the only reason the coinage was unwise. It encouraged the understandable American tendency— shaped by the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the war against the Taliban and now the death of Osama bin Laden—to see Pakistan in the context of the fighting on its north-west frontier, and thus to ignore the source of most of the country’s problems, including terrorism: the troubled state of relations to its east. The border between India and Pakistan has seen a bloody partition in 1947 that killed hundreds of thousands; more than 15 ,000 dead in three wars and 25 years spent fighting over a glacier; 40 , 000-100 ,000 dead (depending on whom you believe) in the insurgency in the disputed province of Kashmir. And now both countries are armed with nuclear weapons. Bloodshed over the border is not the only measure of the damage this poisoned relationship does. In India it exacerbates feuds between Muslims and Hindus. But Pakistan has been worse affected. Fear and hatred of India have distorted its world view and politics ( see article ). Ignoring this—as the West seems to be doing again—is a terrible mistake, especially because a settlement is not beyond reach. Death and distortion Pakistan’s obsession with India has damaged it in three ways. First, it has given its generals too much power. Pakistan’s army, at 550,000 men, is too small to match India’s 1.1m, but too big for Pakistan. The armed forces eat up 16 % of the government’s budget, whereas education gets 1.2 %. Because the armed forces are powerful, the government is weak; and the soldiers’ frequent interventions in Pakistani politics exacerbate this imbalance and undermine democracy. Second, it has shaped Pakistan’s dealings in Afghanistan. In the 1990 s Pakistan helped create the Taliban partly in order to undermine India’s allies in northern Afghanistan. Although it signed up to fight the Taliban after September 11 th 2001 , Pakistan has continued to protect some of the Taliban in order to counter India’s influence in Afghanistan. Third, it has led Pakistan to foster Islamist terrorism—especially the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), a Punjab-based outfit whose purpose is to attack India. After the LeT attacked the Indian parliament in December 2001 Pakistan banned it, but it has survived—either ( as the Pakistanis claim) because it has grown too successful to crush or (as the Indians suspect) because the Pakistani armed forces continue to help it covertly. Either way, India is not the only victim of this murderously stupid policy: terrorism within Pakistan is being fuelled by splinter groups from the LeT—and is going global. As India grows in wealth and power, so do fear and obsession in Pakistan. Yet India, too, would benefit from a solution. The tension with the minnow to its west distracts it from the rise of the giant to its north, and China will surely dominate its security horizon in the 21 st century. America also has much to gain from a saner subcontinent. If Pakistan’s world view were not distorted by India, it might be able to see straight on terror. The soldiers growl Six and a half decades of bloodshed suggest that the problem may be intractable. The hostility springs from a potent mix of religion, history and territory. Although the fighting has subsided in Kashmir, the issue remains hypersensitive: the Indian government censors publications, including The Economist , that print maps showing the current effective border. Politicians in both countries find it hard to be sensible: even those who would like a resolution are susceptible to domestic pressure—the Indians from Hindu nationalists, and the Pakistanis not just from Muslim militants but also from the generals, who regard India as a military, not a political, problem. Nervous subcontinentals used to reassure themselves that neither side could use a nuclear weapon because the aggressor would suffer from the fallout. That may no longer hold. Since America destabilised things in 2008 by agreeing to give India civil nuclear technology, Pakistan’s determination to build up its nuclear arsenal has increased. Last month it announced that it had tested a new mobile missile with a miniaturised nuclear warhead designed to destroy invading tanks with little radiation beyond the battlefield, thus increasing the risk that a border incursion could escalate into something much more dangerous. On May 13 th the head of Pakistan’s powerful Inter- Services Intelligence told parliament that he had already picked targets in India, and rehearsed attacks. He did not specify nuclear attacks, but did not exclude them. This is a dangerous time: Pakistan’s militants are evidently keen to show that Islamist terror will survive bin Laden’s death, and—unlike the cold war—there is scope for terrorists either to provoke a nuclear conflict or to explode a dirty nuclear device. But while the soldiers growl, the politicians have made progress. In 2004-07 quiet talks established the framework for a settlement over Kashmir, under which Pakistan would in effect give up its claim to Indian Kashmir and India would agree to a “ soft” border (one allowing a lot of freedom of movement). That deal was scuppered by the attack on Mumbai by the LeT in 2008 that killed 170 people. But both governments have shown they are willing to get back to the table, and talks are now resuming. India’s prime minister, Manmohan Singh, met Pakistan’s, Yusuf Raza Gilani, at a cricket match in March; and their foreign ministers are due to meet in July. The ingredients needed for progress are clear. Pakistan has to make more effort to stop a terror group scuppering talks for a second time; India, to help Pakistan give up its claim to Indian-held Kashmir, needs to pull its army out, grant plenty of autonomy and stop shooting schoolboys who lob stones at its soldiers. (Last summer 120 died in this way.) Yet the risks—for instance from another terrorist attack— are immense. After Mumbai, India’s politicians showed great restraint. It would be difficult for them to do so again. America can help. The nuclear deal gives it extra clout with India, which it should lean on to show restraint in and flexibility on Kashmir. It should also change its approach to Pakistan. America plies Pakistan’s soldiers with military aid, and tends to talk to them rather than the politicians. Last year it pressed the government to give General Ashfaq Kayani an extension of his term as chief of army staff; and it informed Pakistan’s generals of the death of bin Laden before President Obama called President Zardari. Boosting the soldiers’ clout diminishes the chances of a political settlement with India. By itself, a settlement with India will not make Pakistan a safe place. But it would encourage a series of changes— reining in the generals, building up democratic institutions, spending more on health and education, rejecting Islamist terrorism, rethinking its approach to Afghanistan—which could start to transform the country. Until that happens, Pakistan will remain a disappointment to itself and a danger to the world.