I had gone to Lahore with a message of goodwill but in return we got ...


I had gone to Lahore with a message of goodwill but in return we got ...

committed to building trust with Vajpayee but he was frustrated in this by

domestic forces at home, crucially the military.

Despite the failure of Vajpayee’s leap of trust, it is important to explore

what lessons might be learned from this case for any future leaps of trust that

Indian and Pakistani decision-makers might make to avoid an escalating nuclear

arms competition. The paper is divided into four parts. First, I briefly explore the

concept of a leap of trust and distinguish it from other approaches to trustbuilding.

I use security dilemma theorising to show how leaps only become

possible in a context where decision-makers in adversary relationships

understand their hostility as driven by mutual fear and suspicion. Next, the

paper explores how it became possible for Vajpayee to make his extraordinary

trust-building move, and the role that Sharif played in facilitating the Indian

leader’s leap. I assume in this part of the paper that the Pakistani leader was

genuinely committed to working with Vajpayee in developing a new cooperative

relationship. The third part of the paper revisits this key assumption. It does so

by examining how far Sharif deceived Vajpayee by planning with his generals the

attack at Kargil. The final part of the paper considers whether the trust that had

made possible the breakthrough at Lahore completely disappeared after Kargil.

The leap of trust

The concept of trust has been marginalised in the theory and practice of

International Relations, and I would argue that this has had negative

consequences for exploring viable alternatives to a nuclear-armed world. As John

Dunn so aptly expressed, ‘The question of whom to trust and how far is as

central a question of political life as it is of personal life’ (Dunn 1993). I define