Indo – Pak relations, Cooperation and William Faulkner

“When the players will never meet again, the strategy of defection is the only stable strategy.”

Robert Axelrod, The Evolution of Cooperation

Currently Indo- Pak relations are at its lowest due to surgical strikes, rethink on Indus Water Treaty and banning of Pakistani actors from working in India.

Indo- Pak relations keep swinging between collaboration and conflict (it is mostly conflict).


Robert Axelrod has written book called The Evolution of Cooperation. Based on principles of Game Theory, he advices following steps for conflicting parties.

  1. Be nice, don’t be first to attack.
  2. Retaliate if other attacks
  3. Be forgiving, if other cooperates to back to cooperate mode.

Robert Axelrod

“Based upon the tournament results and the formal propositions, four simple suggestions are offered for individual choice: do not be envious of the other player’s success; do not be the first to defect; reciprocate both cooperation and defection; and do not be too clever.”

― Robert Axelrod, The Evolution of Cooperation


India and Pakistan always follows this path ex.first Pakistan attacked our soldiers, so India retaliated with surgical strikes, now Pakistan wants to have talks with India, so Indians will forgive Pakistanis and soon we will have cultural exchange program. This will go on till Pakistan attacks us one more time.

There are two  books which reflect on impact of cooperation over conflict.


Tony Ashworth has written a book called “Trench Warfare”, where he states that during first World War, the enemies ( Britain and Germany) got into cooperate mode and stopped killing each other, they exchanged gifts during Christmas and sang together. The superiors did not like this cooperation and they encouraged soldiers to stop cooperation and attack each other.

william-faulkner a-fable

William Faulkner, a Noble Prize winner has written a novel “The Fable”. The novel talks about Corporal Stefan, who stops soldiers from attacking Germans, in turn the Germans, too stop attacking them. The war comes to an end. Cooperation wins over conflict. But the General is not happy with this; he wants war to continue, so he orders Stephan to be executed. The novel won Pulitzer prize.


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