Old foes in the lens of Realism

Since its inception, COVID-19 has remained detrimental to the world. Be it developed countries or countries with the strongest health system, coronavirus has shackled the world somehow. From changing friends into enemies and enemies into friends, coronavirus has translated the changing dynamics of the world. In the early days, European countries closed their borders for other European friends, whereas, China sowed the seeds of friendship for many countries by showing its propensity to counter the COVID-19.

Unequivocally, Covid-19 unleashed many factors, and the changing phase of security from traditional to non-traditional in the 21st century remains the foremost one. Why nuclear heads and armaments when the subjects of your nation are vulnerable and dying because of a virus? Here, our attention is driven towards old foes – Pakistan and India. Both of them hold the position in the list of 8 countries that are nuclear powers.

To look over facts, both of them tested their last weapon this year. Haplessly, the social indicators in both India and Pakistan are abysmal. Worst still, this week the population of India turned out liability, and people in the country faced a shortage of oxygen. Numerous pictures and videos were looming on the internet which displayed the suffering of human beings in the country. On the other hand, Pakistan is facing a dearth of vaccination. In the meantime, the people of Pakistan raised public opinion to put aside all the historical differences and to help out the people living on the other side of the border. Happily, the love for humanity was depicted, and what could be better than that.

This ongoing scenario has posed a question, will the individual of Pakistan – Prime Minister Imran Khan – go with the public opinion? Most importantly, is it how the international arena works? In the lens of Realism, NO!

As the father of Realism Hans J Morgenthau renders human nature as selfish in his book “Politics among nations”, the same will perpetuate at the state level. The premier of Pakistan may showcase his condolences by words and through social media but in practicality, he will pursue raison d’etre of the state. For realism, all the acts are followed based on an individual’s nature which is selfish and amoral so the state is ultimately self-interested. Thus, in the meantime rather than being altruistic or humanitarian Pakistan will save its self-interest and would prepare to prevent any such turbulence to transpire there.

The proponents of realism render the international arena anarchic. By anarchy, it means that the international system lacks central government. The shield and protection for a state to survive are three “s” – statism, self-help, and security. Ergo, the political government of the state is the only legitimate authority, and in the time of need and security, the only option available for a state is to rely on oneself. To trust on other nation-states and to pin one’s hope on them, is nothing but folly. Thus, in a time of crisis, the only hope the Indian government can look upon is itself which can take it out of the mayhem and maintain its security.

Holistically, keeping the old adversary in mind, Pakistan will view the situation as a zero-sum game. The losses that India would incur in economic terms would be a win-win situation for Pakistan. Thus, as the people will view the situation on humanitarian ground, the government of Pakistan will view it from two stairs up – humanitarian, economic, and above all the benefit of Pakistan. In pursuance of this, what Pakistan will try to do is complement its social, political, and economic spheres. Most importantly, it will take stringent steps to preclude any such situation from occurring here.

The efficacy of the Realist theory is just translating effectively as the years passing by. Humanitarian grounds and humanity are just deception and still need a lot of time for their applicability in the international world. Despite working tirelessly by every nook and cranny, institutions flunked to thwart the COVID-19. Above and beyond, as liberalism was labeled as “idealism” by many Realists, it remains one to date.

Postscript: While writing this, I came to know that the army of Pakistan is already on the streets of the capital to ensure SOPs. All in all, the concept of self-help and raison d’etre prevailed.


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  1. AMNA says

    Informative, indeed a practical application of realism…..

  2. Shozaib Ali says

    Very well articulated

  3. Sarang Khan says

    Realist perspective is covered in 360 degree

  4. Muhammad Ali says

    Would love to see liberal and constructivist theory as well.

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