China annexed Tibet, and it is widely accepted even though people still host Dalai Lama for tea now and then.

I was exploring the idea of legitimacy, and of where is the threshold, where people(international community) will accept the change you made in status quo, and people will bomb you for changing the status quo.

Threshold in terms of

  • perceived righteousness of the action

  • the perceived power of the actor

  • the perceived value of the object

  • and the perceived irreversibility of the change in status quo made (example: the ending of the Caliphate by Kemal Ataturk)

And is there a threshold at all, or is it all relative?

Auxiliary Question

As a case/example, how would various world powers respond if India were to

  1. invade Pakistan, with the motive of

    • Conquering Pakistan or
    • Disintegrating it while annexing some states and granting independence to some
  2. counterattack in an action initiated by the State of Pakistan with the goal of

    • Conquering Pakistan or
    • Disintegrating it while annexing some states and granting independence to some

How would their stance change if this invasion were

  • Failure( State of Pakistan maintains its integrity)
  • Long drawn and partially successful( State of Pakistan continues to exist crippled)
  • Success
  • overwhelmingly successful (short time and little loss of lives and resources for India)
  • 6
    Pakistan would object quite forcefully, and they have nuclear weapons, so...
    – cpast
    Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 21:59
  • 2
    The world map changed a lot in the 20th century. The argument of what is historically part of which country is self-defeating, how far would you want to go back? Everything was part of something else historically. Sometimes areas and people depart for a mutually benificial purpose. How many borders should be redrawn and countries annexed if we gave up diplomacy and the respect for the sovereignty of todays existing countries. Commented Aug 7, 2015 at 1:03
  • 1
    What does "suzerainity" mean? Commented Aug 7, 2015 at 7:32
  • 1
    At many times, significant parts of what now is India have been under Muslim rule. Does that entitle Pakistan to take over 30% of Indian territory by force? I would say that no, in either case. In any way, USA and China are long standing allies of Pakistan, and any war of conquest will be contested by almost every country in the world.
    – SJuan76
    Commented Sep 20, 2015 at 23:51
  • @SJuan76 Muslims != Pakistan
    – CinCout
    Commented Dec 7, 2016 at 12:36

2 Answers 2


There are many flawed premises in your question.

Comparing Apples with Oranges

First mistake you have made is, comparing or equating very different entities.

Pakistan is not Tibet and India is not China. Moreover, 2016 isn't 1949.

Pakistan has a pretty strong military (Ranked 13th in the whole world by GlobalFirePower) which is of course still not as strong as Indian military but they ought to able to defend themselves. Please do not cite war of 1971 here because the circumstances aren't what forced a Pakistani defeat in 1971. In 1971, Pakistan lost because:

  1. Local population was against them
  2. Their armed forces were isolated from Pakistani heartlands by a 1000 Miles of Indian territory lying between West Pakistan and Bangladesh.
  3. Pakistan did not have a strong navy to protect supply routes to Garrisons in Bangladesh.
  4. Pakistan had to fight with Indian backed rebels in the rear while fending off regular Indian troops on the front.
  5. Pakistan had virtually no airpower in the east, capable of providing air support and defense to the ground troops.

If let's assume, India is to invade Pakistan now, do you see any of these decisive factors playing in India's favor? If these things do not happen, we see results of other Indo-Pak wars:

  1. Kashmir War 1948 - Stalemate, Partition of Kashmir in Pakistani and Indian zones
  2. War of 1965 - Stalemate

So if those two wars are any indicator, under normal circumstances, India can't "conquer" Pakistan.

Not to mention, Pakistan has nukes and so does India. So neither can afford the adventure of a war without decimating each other completely. There will be naught for the conquest for either of you, except nuclear waste.

So as Evident, Pakistan will be a far tougher foe for India than Tibet was for China.

Material Capability to fight a war of Conquest

However, neither country is capable of fighting a decisive war. They can only fight wars for one to three weeks, after that their supplies start dwindling.

Things become more complicated as both are dependent on foreign suppliers for their arms and International community has always banned sales of arms to both nations in the past in event of a war. So it is safe to say, neither can fight a war of conquest and will be forced to negotiate a ceasefire within few weeks of fighting due to material and logistical constraints.

Historically "Indian" Lands

I find it quite interesting that while you claim that the lands have been Indian for centuries, you refrained from pointing out that so have been the people.

Creation of Pakistan is not quite as simple as you have described here however. Pakistan did not just came to existence out of the blue. The people had been there for centuries and so had been the sense of being a distinct group, different from the rest of India.

Indians have been a multi-faith people for thousands of years. The problem however was that given the Muslim rule on India, the faith of Muslims was seen more like ethnicity than as a religion. Despite living together, Hindus and Muslims of India didn't quite become one nation at all.

If you look at historical context, you will find that heroes and villains of the two people are quite opposite.

  1. In Umayyad invasion of India, Muslims tend to consider Muhammad bin Qasim their hero while Hindus consider Raja Dahir as their hero.
  2. In Battle of Panipat, Muslims consider Ahmad Shah Abdali their hero while Hindus consider Marahtas their hero.

The list is too long, I will just cite these two only. As you can see, we see the two pitted against each other in battle. Of course, Then the British came along and some sense of one nation started getting developed however that wasn't enough to satisfy the Muslim majority regions who demanded to be separated from Independent India as they did not want to live under a Hindu majority rule, which obviously a democratic India would have been given that overwhelming majority was Hindu.

TLDR, Indian North-Western and Frontier-Eastern regions breakaway and Indian people in those regions adopt a new national identity, Pakistan.

The historical claim absurdity

Of course there was no Pakistan before 1947, but was there a Republic of India before 1947?

Since 1200s, there had always been a central Muslim state at head of India which was seen as theirs by the Muslims and evidently as occupiers by the Hindus as evident by the many revolts against those Muslim rulers.

Republic of India was founded on 15th of August 1947 and therefore has no historical claims on Lands to the West.

When you say India has historical claims, you are implying to be successors of Pre-British Indian states. Which states were those? Mughal Empire? Muslim. Lodhi Sultanate before them? Muslim. Sayyid Dynasty before them? Muslim. Tuhglaq dynasty before them? Muslim. Khalji Sultanate before them? Muslim. The slave dynasty before them? Also Muslim. So in that way, Pakistan could also lay claim to be successor of those Muslim Empires and assert that they have a historical claim on India.

Should Iran have a claim on India based on Persian Empire's pre and post Islam conquests of Indian lands? Should Afghanistan have a claim on India based on Afghan conquests of India?

Of course the "Historical claim" bit is amusing, It is just one of the many pretexts a powerful country can use against a weaker neighbor. If we talk about Historical claims, everyone would have one against everyone.

International reactions

It's not that hard to speculate about International reactions.

The world as a rule has evolved beyond "conquest", "reconquest" or "annexation". Countries go to war, Countries get occupied but they aren't annexed now.

Of course there is the recent annexation of Crimea by Russia. Countries have condemned it, most don't recognize it however there haven't been any serious efforts to liberate the said region.

Then there is annexation of Kuwait by Iraq, based on Historical claims. The result was the First Gulf war which resulted in near-destruction of Iraq and liberation of Kuwait from Iraqi jaws.

So as you can observe, In case of Stronger Russia, nothing more than sanctions or condemnations was done. In case of Weaker Iraq, World started a war to undo the annexation.

India isn't Russia but it isn't Iraq either that any misadventure might result in global war against them. However Indians can expect that key global and regional power players would be very much against any such act.

Chief among them would be:

  1. USA - Has a vested interest in Pakistani state as a tool to further their agenda in Central and South Asia.
  2. China - Has a vested interest in Pakistan as a key ally against India.
  3. KSA - Has a vested interest in Pakistan and uses them to further their agenda.
  4. Iran - Relations not as they were back in the days of the Shah but still doesn't appear to be welcoming to any Indian aggression.
  5. UK - Has an interest in Pakistan because Pakistan is a member of the Commonwealth and British Troops are in Afghanistan.
  6. EU & NATO - Have an interest in Pakistan because of Afghan war.
  7. Russia - Traditionally not friends but getting closer with Pakistan and in search of new partners.
  8. Pakistan - I have a feeling that the nuclear armed state would have a word or two to say about their proposed annexation by India. I suspect them to be quite strong words.
  • A well informed answer. I have edited the question. Do see if you have to edit the answer. I would appreciate it if you expand on the last part of your answer.
    – Rohit
    Commented Dec 23, 2016 at 1:34
  • @yahoo.com I did note that there won't be a military invasion India isn't Russia but it isn't Iraq either that any misadventure might result in global war against them..
    – NSNoob
    Commented May 7, 2018 at 7:41

I am neither Indian or Pakistani but independent observer in south Asian geopolitics and the reality is that if India ever try to invade Pakistan, that would be the last day of India's peace or even her existence in this REAL WORLD.

The reality is India was trying to isolate Pakistan in every cost, but the reality is that India has now isolated herself in the region. In my study and investigation, Pakistan is far more superior on nuclear and missile technology than overstated India. This is not 80's or 90's where you just invade the country with numbers. Size does not matter in this current century. The reality is that India should now think about her own existence as she is going to/ or have been almost blocked by Pakistan & China from the west, by China through Sri Lankan port from the east and will be and certainly from POK once CPEC have been completed. Look at the reality:

  1. India has lost influence in Afghanistan and Pakistan position is strong and always will be due to strategic location.
  2. As per international statistics and facts, Pakistan has successfully raided against terrorist and within a year 90% of sectarian and bombing has been eliminated. Even no any suicide bombing has been reported since last 14 months. Pakistan is now taking a turn for the better.
  3. Pakistan have established new alliance with Russia and even more close to China. Pakistan & China alliance is now not only strategic, but also counter geopolitics situation and well aware of game changing situation in the region. Whereas India is still living in 20th century and playing the same CHILD games with Pakistan.
  4. India has been unable to leverage uncertainty in the region to secure Iranian partnership with Pakistan. And despite the regional sectarian turmoil Iran-pakistan relations are surprisingly stable. Remember Pakistan is now more close to China and even Russia than United States whereas, India has joined United States club and guess what Iranian and Russian know very well what to do next.
  5. Alongside its internal reform, Pakistan aided by China, is engaging in a smarter, most effective approach towards the region, reflecting aforementioned gains. But, India's evolving, more strident, strategic culture has resulted in a false of confidence amongst its strategic planners.

Above are the only very few points out of hundreds. It is unlikely that US, Australia, Iran, Russia etc would come to help in a war against Pakistan. The reality is that no other countries are that much close as China and Pakistan and no such country would even try to tickle them.

  • 7
    Mike Hodge Your answer contains simply no point, of what was raised in the question. Instead, you go on a quite disconnected rhetoric, for I don't know what. Maybe you feel, frustation, or enthusiasm about the India-Pakistan question, and you want a place to express yourself, or to satisfy your instinct to prove that you know a lot of things. Whatever the reasons be is none of my buisness. Stack Exchange is a question and answer forum, not a 'listen i know this' place. So, as a part of the community, i request you, please restrain from this in the future.
    – Rohit
    Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 14:58
  • 1
    And yes, the quality of the rhetoric is also a little..... well, I better not say anything on that
    – Rohit
    Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 14:59
  • You really need to rewrite the answer for it to be taken seriously. Just the facts, please, none of the "my dear" stuff. Commented Aug 7, 2015 at 7:30
  • 4
    @MikeHodge I removed various insults from your question. Please try to write in a civilized and respectful manner.
    – Philipp
    Commented Aug 7, 2015 at 9:30

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