The First Biennial Conference on Contemporary Iranian Studies, Tehran, Iran, 10 - 11 November 2019, pp.23-24
Iran-Pakistan Relations: The Interplay between Identity Constructions and Power Politics
Dr Saadet Gulden AYMAN
Building shared understandings of regional peace and stability between Iran and Pakistan gained further importance after the US decision to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan. In an effort to figure out the prospects for an enhanced cooperation in Iran-Pakistan relations the paper attempts to evaluate the dynamics of conflict between the two neighbors and possible ways to restrain them. It asserts that in order to reach a comprehensive understanding on how Iran-Pakistan relations have evolved and what type of factors are likely to shape their future relations one has to analyse the relationship between construction of state identity and power politics. It argues that the link between state identities and power dynamics often tends to be neglected both constructivist scholars and their rationalist rivals. It assumes that the relationship between constructivism and realism is not one of mutual opposition. Neither a narrow focus on power politics nor an approach that centers only on constructivist method could provide full-fledged evaluation of Iran-Pakistan interaction in foreign policy. It attempts to demonstrate the tension and interaction between these two dimensions. State identity in this paper is defined in terms of various attempts by state representatives and other political actors to shape, weaken or redefine the currently held representations of state and the beliefs about the appropriate behavior. The paper will elaborate specially on the impact of Pakistan’s nation building process and Islamic Revolution of Iran on the two countries’ relations. It will also devote special emphasis to US being the most influential actor in the international arena that influences geo-political calculus of regional actors. The paper will demonstrate how the US’ hegemonic aspirations complicated Iran-Pakistan relations in spite of the absence of any territorial conflict between the two countries. It will conclude with a discussion of possible scenarios in order to distinguish the most important factors that would most likely affect the course of conflict or cooperation.