NDA’s vice presidential nominee M Venkaiah Naidu has warned Pakistan against “aiding and abetting terror”, adding that it should recall what happened in the 1971 Indo-Pak war when it faced a “humiliating defeat” and Bangladesh was born. Naidu’s intemperate and churlish remarks constitute bellicose rhetoric that will, in all likelihood , be equally matched by rhetoric on the Pakistani side. This is a sad commentary on the nature of relations between arch antagonists and rivals, India and Pakistan. Both sides can get so trapped in bellicose rhetoric and posturing that it can lead to ungainly outcomes. The sufferers of this aggressive rhetoric will be the people of the subcontinent. Now returning to Naidu’s statement, the vice presidential nominee of India is guilty of elision and omissions. Pakistan of today is not the Pakistan of 1973 and neither is India the same. Both sides have acquired nuclear weapons and a fragile deterrence paradigm that can crack under stress(s) obtains between the two. Moreover, international relations and politics , both in terms of system and structure operate under a different dynamic than in 1973- the year when the Cold War was at its peak and the United States had engineered a Sino- Soviet split under the aegis of the duo of Henry Kissinger and Nixon. The contemporary system of international relations corresponds somewhat roughly to “ loose bipolarity” with the United States and China at the centre of this structure. China is Pakistan’s ally and after the CPEC- a component of OBOR- has a stake in Pakistan and the stability of the subcontinent. Overlaying this is India’s economic trajectory which the country cannot squander by going to war. Disaggregated and stripped of accretions then Naidu’s statement defy and fly in the face of realities of a structural nature. However, despite structural, economic and political conditions that militate against war between India and Pakistan, there are no grounds for complacency. Rhetoric of a bellicose nature has a dynamic and momentum of its own; if the two sides get caught in the melee of rhetoric and posturing, these might assume a dynamic with India and Pakistan trapped in their respective positions from which it might be difficult to climb down. The exigent requirement of peace in South Asia and in this interdependent era beyond demands that prudence and a sense of proportion define the relational and even rhetorical dynamic between India and Pakistan. Naidu, given the gravitas of the office he will, in all likelihood hold, should realize and take this to heart.