A Happy New Year to all of you. Here’s hoping that 2018 will prove to be better than 2017, though I wouldn’t bet on it. The year gone by has been fraught with instability and uncertainty for Pakistan and the world. Uncertainty is a cancer of that eats at the vitals of continuity and future planning. But that is what happens when we are trapped in the headlights of the juggernaut of global change wrought by the inexorable movement of historical forces that lead to a change in the global status quo, to shifts in the various centers of gravity causing boundary changes and a New World Order or disorder, call it what you will.
Countries must first try and survive the onslaught and then forge for themselves a better position in the New World Order, this time in a multipolar world, no longer a unipolar world when the end of the Cold War saw the end of a bipolar world. Now, like after Yalta post Second World War, the world will be carved into blocs or orbits of influence around each superpower. Each pole will have its own economic, military, intellectual and ideological gravitational field and the rest will have to revolve around at least one of them. The three poles will be the U.S.A., China and Russia with some overlap between the gravitational fields of all three. The prime purpose of each pole will be to extend its economic and political reach and influence as far and wide as it can: consider China’s OBOR. Pakistan must decide which gravitational field or fields it wishes to be pulled by without alienating the others. When China comes up with a reserve currency: it is about to launch the Petro-Yuan and the ability to convert Yuan into gold at the Shanghai Gold Exchange and take it anywhere. It will be the return of the Gold Standard in another way and the primacy of the
U.S. dollar will be over and so will the overhang of that country over the global economy. The concept of non-alignment has gone down the chute, thanks to India and Cuba putting NAM into the lap of the late Soviet Union. It remains so much hot air right now. Every country will have to take a clear position.
The three poles will wish some regional countries to act as ‘regional policemen’, like Iran was under the Shah regional policeman for the Middle East. Saudi Arabia wishes to take that position now, which is fraught with multinational conflict with Iran. Bari Al Atwan says that a Saudi-Iran doctrinaire war to determine Sunni or Shia primacy in the Middle East is not just imminent but inevitable. That will change the complexion of the Middle East. The U.S. wishes India to be the regional policeman of South Asia, which is also fraught with increasing conflict between India on one side and Pakistan with China and possibly Russia too and inevitably with the rest of South Asia. Nuclear conflagration would then be on the cards. Germany will continue to call the shots in Europe, whatever happens to the EU and
Euro and might become the fourth pole as well. Brazil at least could become the policeman of Latin America. And so forth…
What of the Far East? Difficult to predict where the U.S.A.-North Korea standoff will lead or the spat over sovereignty over various South China Sea islands, but the inevitable overriding policeman over the area will have to be China, though America will try to prop up Japan into that role.
As far as we are concerned, America, woefully bereft of a sense of history, is repeating its hackneyed mantra of ‘do more’. That’s because, as usual, it has lost its war against a ragtag Afghan Taliban militia of Afghanistan with ISIS also getting into the act. Making excuses and passing the buck to duck failure is a hallmark of the loser. Do more, what? Win the war for you, as we did against the late Soviet Union? Enough. We should reply: “NO MORE”. We have suffered enough fighting your wars: invited an avalanche of drugs and lethal weapons, suffered untold terrorism much more than you have, incalculable human and material losses and billions of dollars in loss of investment. But those holding begging bowls cannot say “No more” with confidence for they will drown under a sea of huge debt. Borrowing more to service the debt will only exacerbate the problem like digging the hole you are in and put paid to what is left of our tattered sovereignty. For an economic bailout, the conditions of the lenders will be impossible to accept.
But we should realize that desperate losers cannot call the shots. So we should set the conditions to “do more”, the most important of which has to be to get our debt written off in exchange for the over $120 billion we have lost in America’s war on terror, and the money looted by our rulers and their crony ‘businessmen’ stashed away in the West returned to us. Else we will have to build a Ritz Carlton in Islamabad. Not easy, but doable with the right leadership that can look the hegemon in the eye and set his own conditions. But we don’t have that leadership…yet if we ever will.
If not, debt-equity swaps will be another option, and that is where China comes in. So be prepared to live life switching from British to Chinese style, chopsticks and all. The wretched of the earth will, obviously, continue to live in the lifestyle they are sadly used to
since the beginning of history — abject poverty.
Methinks and fears that the “do more” demand is calculated to prepare the conditions or excuse for later action against us, starting with internal destabilization, which India with Afghanistan are doing and the U.S. looking the other way to prepare the ground for physical action. External interference has now exposed itself, what with Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif being whisked away to Saudi Arabia for ‘talks’, most likely at the behest of the U.S.A. Disqualified recalcitrant Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is slated to leave for Saudi today. What comes out of it one wouldn’t risk guessing. It could be the ‘Hariri Effect’, for all I know. Perhaps the arrested Saudi princes revealed the involvement of the Sharifs in their corruption. God knows best but we will soon find out. Our National Security
The adviser had a five-hour long meeting with Nawaz Sharif. The army is obviously on board with whatever shenanigans are taking place in Saudi. The NSA and Nawaz couldn’t have discussed the recipe for ‘Nihri’ all this while. President Mamnoon is more suited for that.
The U.S. can hardly militarily attack a country of 120 million when it couldn’t defeat a country of 20 million, unless the 120 million wish to commit suicide by creating chaos and anarchy. Images of 1970 and East Pakistan spring to mind. Pakistan is sitting on the lip of a
volcano. A rising dollar is making it harder for ends to meet. There could be an explosion any time. God help us.
Our founder, Mohammad Ali is said to have said: “No power of earth can undo Pakistan.”
He forgot his Pakistanis. We have already broken his Pakistan once.
BY HUMAYUN GAUHAR