Pakistan: revolution and war by Nadir Mir…

Nadir MirPakistan may face revolution at home and war on the border. The environment in Pakistan is charged, to say the least. This is a combination of internal dynamics and geopolitics, reaching critical mass.

For over a decade, the Pakistani nation has been squeezed on many fronts. Ever since the war on terror began, Pakistan’s western border has become a war zone; its economy has been ruined, inflation gallops and militancy prevails. On top of that Indian threats mount, even as America plans to withdraw from Afghanistan.

Against this backdrop, three major dynamics are combining. These include US drawdown from Afghanistan, Pakistani people’s demand for change and India’s overt hostility toward Pakistan.

Pakistan Revolution: In Pakistan, the people have been deprived of the basics of life. Law and order problems persist in the country. Many people, who joined the long march, merely wanted electricity, gas, affordable fuel, jobs, etc. Undoubtedly, they have been robbed and deprived of their basic rights for ages. Still the brave, frugal and patriotic people maintain great love for their country and faith in Allah for a bright future of their children.

Pakistan’s main problem is the corrupt and decadent elite that is self-serving and foreign influenced. They have robbed the wealth of this country and transferred it abroad. For this, they were either facilitated or blackmailed by the foreign powers. In power circles, thus, the elite continued to do their bidding for geopolitical ends. Resultantly, poor and middle income people are getting poorer, while the country is getting destabilised.

Certainly, the elite outlook is parochial and not nationalistic. They have entrenched themselves in lands, business, bureaucracy and other levers of power. They monopolise wealth and there is little trickledown effect. This has not only deprived the masses, but also marginalised and confused them. Every effort has been made to divide Pakistanis by our internal and external enemies.

But now they are awaking from their deep slumber. They are uniting for a new Pakistan; they are seeking their basic rights. The next wave of revolutionary fervour would obviously be much more radical. Of course, democracy is still the way out, and the elections must lead to a reformed Pakistan. In future, two hundred million Pakistanis must be shareholders and stakeholders.

War against Pakistan: Even as the Americans depart from Afghanistan, India has started beating the war drum. Pakistan had hoped for peace once the Americans had left Afghanistan, but the eastern border became hot. After the recent clashes in Kashmir, the Indian army and air chiefs threatened Pakistan. Even the Indian Prime Minister has changed his tone towards Pakistan.

The Pakistan Army, while bravely defending the country, has acted with restraint and prudence. Surprisingly, despite Islamabad’s sincere efforts for peace, New Delhi is moving away from it. In spite of the fact that recently no terror strike took place in India for which Pakistan could be blamed, India intends to increase military presence along the border.

There are three basic reasons why India could follow a policy of confrontation with Pakistan. First, the USA’s military withdrawal from Afghanistan is making it nervous. Second, India wants to exploit any turmoil in Pakistan before it regains balance. Thirdly, New Delhi itself was unnerved by the rape protests and the gloss being removed from ‘Shining India’.

Furthermore, Kashmir or other problems add to its internal woes. And then there is little point of being the world’s number one arms importer and having a big army, if the neighbours are not to be bullied.

Reform Pakistan: The time to reform Pakistan has arrived. In Pakistan, the elite-based society must give way to a welfare society. The new political future of Pakistan should be of a united, wealth-sharing, peace-oriented culture with nationalistic aspirations. In Turkey, for example, much has been achieved through free and fair elections, while Egypt represents the much-hyped Tahrir Square model. However, an elected government can reform the country; if not, then a revolution may be likely!

Cold Peace with India: Nuclear armed Pakistan and India must avoid war. By resolving the Kashmir dispute, permanent peace can be achieved. The Pakistani government should neither confront India, nor appease it. A middle course will be ‘cold peace’, which means “peace but not friendship.” Friendly relations, however, can be maintained between the two countries once the core issues are resolved.

Pakistan’s army is well prepared, but India can miscalculate. Spending billions of dollars for buying more arms or Rafale fighter aircrafts after the Kashmir clash is suggestive of New Delhi’s militarist intent.

In addition to enhanced nuclear deterrence, Pakistani army needs to build up conventional deterrence, even while avoiding an arms race. This implies peace on the western border and internal front to refocus in the east. While pursuing peace with India, Pakistan must be fully prepared to deter war.

Having said that, the Kashmir border escalation has been controlled this time. But will the war be avoided next time?

The writer is a retired brigadier and has authored a book titled Gwadar on the Global Chessboard.

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