by Omar Ali
IF the US has already decided to get out no matter what, then they may feel the need to get Pak army cooperation for a safe exit from Afghanistan. Saleem Shahzad states that this has caused the US to dump Zardari in favor of the army and to dump Abdullah in favor of Karzai. The first is more believable, after all the US is not Zardari’s maternal uncle. If Zardari bhai is a liability, he will be dumped. But the second assertion may be spin on someone’s behalf..
Let me put on my optimistic cynical hat and make some counter predictions (not necessarily true, but I do think they are likelier than some of yours):
1. Pepe Escobar is not a reliable witness.
2. Modern Nation states are remarkably stable. Most have irrational boundaries (gifts of colonialism and accident) but only a couple have actually broken apart (Pakistan being one of them, but I think you will agree that East and West Pakistan was an especially irrational case). Pakistan and India will remain in present boundaries for the foreseeable future. Balkanization will be a threat, but will not actualize. There is too much holding the countries together, though “remote” areas will continue with insurgencies.
3. The nascent capitalists in both India and Pakistan will continue to spout nationalist hate speech, but it is in their monetary interest to have a reasonable level of cooperation. Full blown conflict does not suit either of them. Of course, there may be other interest groups that ARE benefiting from conflict. In India, they are already no match for the massive “real economy” of industry and commerce. In Pakistan, the commercial sector is smaller and the army is RELATIVELY bigger, but the “rent an army” business model is on its last legs. Actually, if the Americans pull out in some reasonable manner and no longer pay the army to do their work, neither China nor Saudi Arabia can fill the gap. The army will have to adjust to new conditions. Instead of sending Jihadis into India, they will sell them Fauji cement and skim 13% off the gas flowing that way. Other more criminal enterprises (smuggling, kidnapping, etc) will no doubt be taxable in some form as well.
3. The real threat to stability in both countries is from the countless poor people whom the states shamelessly abuse but to whom they do not provide security or service. But these populations CAN be brought into the national mainstream. Not necessarily as nicely and justly as leftists would like (look at the harsh conditions of labor in China) and I am not saying it will necessarily work, but it CAN work. The poor have low expectations in the subcontinent. I will absolutely agree that even those low expectations are not being met in most of India or Pakistan (there is a reason we have 20 Maoist insurgencies in India) but unlike Arundhati Roy, I dont think Indian democracy will necessarily fail. In fact, I think even Pakistani democracy will not necessarily fail…
4. Afghanistan is the weakest link but even Afganistan will not break up (at least, I don’t think that is the likeliest scenario).
5. The truly sincerely RELIGIOUS fanatics are a tiny minority. The .. army and national govt can fight them off once they decide its in their interest. Of course, I expect it will be a nasty fight.
Courtesy: Omar Ali and firstname.lastname@example.org