Pakistan will also go strongly at all radical groups and terror elements and forsake the policy of exporting terror as state policy.
Crystal-ball gazing is not a definitive science, and when it comes to the many uncertainties existing in Pakistan, the analyses of any strategic thinker is likely fraught with many inaccuracies. Nevertheless, most analysts opine that any of the four undermentioned futures await Pakistan, and its ability or otherwise to measure up as a nation and society to serious challenges it faces will lead to the shape of the nation in the years ahead.
Firstly, the good trajectory would be for Pakistan to truly strive to become a moderate, modern state at peace with itself and importantly its neighbours, primarily India. In this option, Pakistan will also go strongly at all radical groups and terror elements and forsake the policy of exporting terror as state policy. This option is perhaps the most difficult in the short term, considering the current mind-set of the Pakistan army, but presents the only chance for Pakistan to emerge as a normal country in the world community. The exercise of this option would naturally limit the powers of the Pakistan army in state governance and restore to its civilian and democratically elected government the powers in foreign affairs, defence, economic, educational policies et al., which are exercised by governments all over. This option presupposes Pakistan eschewing itself of India centricity in all its policies, including its mindless obsession with Kashmir. In addition, the United States and the UN may generously assist Pakistan in its economic and social recovery, with China and India also chipping in.
“¦China could use Pakistan more intensely as its proxy against India.
The second plausible future is the perpetuation of current policies or a business-as-usual option. In this situation, Pakistan will continue to ride in two boats, namely fighting terrorism selectively and supporting it at the same time. This has also been called the “muddling through” option and perhaps is the most likely according to most analysts. In such a setting, the “pendulum will continue forever,” which would mean that after this particular civilian cycle, there will be another military coup after a few years and the old history of Pakistan will get repeated off and on. In this scenario, Pakistan’s economy will be saved from a total meltdown by some doles from the United States temporarily, thence by China and Saudi Arabia, whose influence will increase exponentially in the country. China could use Pakistan more intensely as its proxy against India. Nevertheless, this option only delays the inevitable decline of the Pakistani state in the future and could trigger an Indo-Pak war or even a jihadist takeover of Pakistan.
The third “future” option for Pakistan is its becoming a full-fledged jihadist state by design and not default, somewhat like an Islamic Emirate. In this scenario, the Pakistani army and other state institutions, confronted with a very strong radical uprising in the country, will decide not to provoke a civil war and eventually capitulate to the extremists, strike a deal with them on sharing power, ease out the United States from Pakistan and thence try to replicate the same in Afghanistan. “Glory to Islam” and a call to the “Islamic Ummah” to confront the infidels the world over would unite most in Pakistan. For Pakistan to survive in this scenario, China, Saudi Arabia and Iran will have to assist substantially, which may not be very likely considering the world stage at the moment.
Conditions in Pakistan, ranging from an era of “ugly stability” to near or total collapse, carry grave implications for India, which must be prepared to face any situation occurring out of cataclysmic events in the neighbourhood.
Another option, which represents the worst-case scenario, and could be a consequence of the third option, stated above, is the collapse of the Pakistani state as known today. In these circumstances, with civil war not being able to be contained, some provinces will go their own way and the Lebanonisation of Pakistan will become a reality. Meanwhile, al-Qaeda and/or some Taliban/other radical elements would manage to lay their hands on nukes/nuclear materials and threaten the West/India. This nightmarish setting is not far-fetched, and only a united nonradicalised Pakistan army under a strong leader will be able to prevent this doomsday scenario for Pakistan.
Pakistan, both as a state and as a nation, has not been able to recover from its troubled legacy and now unmistakably seems to be in a downward spiral. Alarmingly, recent years have seen the militant nexus focus on Pakistani territory itself, with frequent targeting of soft targets in the Pakistani mainland with Punjabi militant groups becoming as active as their terror brethren in the violent FATA, Khyber Pakhtunwa and Waziristan belts. Even heavily guarded governmental and security installations not being immune to terror attacks from myriad terror groups, Pakistan is at siege from within. With all developmental indicators failing and the economy in near collapse, Pakistanis have to close ranks, fearlessly circumspect and seek answers for their survival themselves. Pakistan must muster enough courage to recognise its many faultlines. Before terrorists of inexplicable hues further consolidate and the many ethnic entities in Pakistan fructify their political yearnings, leading to the collapse of the nation, Pakistanis, notably their army, have to undergo a major transformation in their attitudes especially concerning the war on terror, the India centricity and the Kabul fixation.
Conditions in Pakistan, ranging from an era of “ugly stability” to near or total collapse, carry grave implications for India, which must be prepared to face any situation occurring out of cataclysmic events in the neighbourhood. It will be worth our while to be aware that whenever conditions deteriorate in Pakistan, the Pakistani establishment to restore their slipping power may indulge in military adventurism against India as a last resort. India thus needs to put into place more than adequate counter-response mechanisms embracing the political, the diplomatic and importantly the military to shield itself from any Pakistani machinations. As India prepares to take its rightful place on the global “high table,” it wishes Pakistan well in the larger interests of all who inhabit this region. And in the final analysis, for Pakistan to survive, it has to heal itself—sooner the better. The Pakistani army must undergo a radical attitudinal and professional transformation and ensure its country’s interests are above its own corporate interests.