UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Political bargaining and the Punjab crisis : the Punjab Accord of 1985 Rodríguez, Alvaro Joseph


Since the early 1980's, the Punjab state of India has been in turmoil as a result of a separatist movement that developed among elements of the Sikh community. Political tensions not only characterized the relationship between the Punjab and New Delhi/ but also between Sikhs and Hindus and among different segments within the Sikh community itself. The most important attempt to end the conflict in the state has been the Rajiv Gandhi-Sant Longowal Accord signed on July 24, 1985. However, the Accord failed and by mid-1987 the Punjab was once again racked by political violence. This thesis focuses on the events that led to the signing of the Accord and the forces that caused its demise. Bargaining theory provides the general theoretical framework against which the data are analyzed. This thesis highlights the fact that political bargains in Third World weakly-institutionalized states are often the result of particular configurations of political power which are short lived. The corollary of this is that once the configuration of political forces changes, the chances of success for the previously reached political bargain are weakened. In the particular case of the Punjab Accord, there was a change, beginning in late 1985, in the relative political power of the participants in the bargain. Also, the terms of the bargained Accord unleashed forces on both sides which undermined its implementation. Third World leaders should draw two major lessons from this. First, they should be careful not to have exaggerated perceptions of their power since this may be counterproductive in the future if they cannot deliver what they have promised. Second, these leaders should attempt to consult all interests with a stake in the bargained settlement as a way to prevent opposition to it.

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