I had a tradition every year where I would make predictions on India, Pakistan and US based on socio-political situations and my understanding of its nuances. I can happily say that a lot of my earlier predictions did turn out to be correct – including the victory of Obama (both times) and Modi. For last two years years, however, I have not been doing this. But this is a good time to begin it. So lets go for it.
Read the past posts on the different years.
India – Change will Happen but lots of dangers
In PM Modi’s years of government, India has followed an aggressive and engaged way of foreign policy which is intertwined with the exigencies of internal needs. For example, isolation of Pakistan is imperative as is blocking its economy – that’s the Indian way of putting sanctions on Pakistan for its state-sponsored terrorism. And for this, India has worked with Iran, Saudi Arabia, UAE and the US to put Pakistan in a corner. And this has succeeded.
But Pakistan has been clawing its way out of the ditch by doing what it has always done well – mortgage its own sovereignty by giving away its land or piling on of debts or just opening up its doors to any power who gives it some legitimacy and money. CPEC, the oil & gas pipeline that goes from China to Gwadar is one such step. With Russia pledging to not just support but also extend it, will further help the Pakistanis. And hurt India’s national interest deeply. PoK is the other part of Kashmir which constitutes the complete Kashmir that should rightfully be India’s. This simple fact was always ignored in the narrative of Indian establishment and commentators when discussing with Pakistan. Heck, it wasn’t even articulated as a formal official stand from India – despite its veracity. That always meant that India was on the back-foot on Kashmir. One part gone, now it was easy to keep putting pressure on the other part by everyone else. By bringing the pressure on the real ownership of PoK and the situation there, India has pushed back strategically. It is an important step to fighting Pakistan’s shenanigans in Kashmir.
To understand that see how China approaches it’s “One-China policy” and how aggressive it is to any statement from anyone to the contrary. Even though today it may not be taking control of Taiwan, but it double-downs on anyone who says it aint part of China. One day, when the time is right it can annex it. Just like Tibet and Hong Kong. That is how smart nations work. And that is what Doval-Modi method is. This will suffer BIG time in the wake of Putin’s aggressive postures against India.On the internal politics front
, things will get dirty. As Narendra Modi’s big push for countering corrupt individuals – including politicians – continues, more and more people will get caught and stakes against the PM rise. Recently Mayawati and BSP got into the dock for the moneys uncovered in BSP account worth crores in old notes. That means BSP will now resort to an all out war against Modi – as is being done by Rahul Gandhi and Mamata Bannerjee – the two who are most impacted by the anti-corruption drive.
As UP’s elections come closer, there will be all-out war between parties that are anti-BJP and BJP. As Congress is depending on Prashant Kishor as the political consultant, Samajwadi Pary is working with the SJB Strategies International, Inc – with Steve Jarding and Steve Bouchard advising them. Per the latest reports SJB has worked with the Samajwadi Party’s leadership to orchestrate the Akhilesh-Mulayam split drama. This political consulting group has worked on campaigns in Bangladesh, Bosnia, Brazil, Croatia, France, Germany, Indonesia, Kenya, Puerto Rico (US), Romania, Spain, Switzerland, Virgin Islands (US) as well.
This kind of use of the external consultants will bring the dirty tricks that were used in the US elections by Trump camp to India. And these tricks are used most by the challengers to the power – which means Congress, AAP or other such parties like the Communists. And, in that, one shouldn’t be surprised if these parties work in tandem with state and non-state actors in Pakistan and China to do things like hacking into Modi and/or Doval’s accounts and use them via an anonymous web site.
When the Indians are so passionately backing the Trump campaign’s alignment with a foreign power to bring down the democratic process in the US only because it suits their world-view – then they are lending legitimacy to all the practices that were employed in the US elections. I have seen most of activist Indians justify the Russian hacks by positing the interventions by US in external elections. The argument seems smart but misses the point. Indian democracy has the exact same weaknesses that can be and will be exploited. Like Krishna tells Karna when he points to Arjun’s shooting at him while he is stuck against the rules of the war – “You cannot raise the cry for violation of rules that you yourself have been at the forefront of violating unabashedly!” When AAP or Congress does to Modi what Trump did to Hillary, then most of the Indians will wake up. If Russia goes unpunished, mark my words – democracies around the world are dangerously placed thereon. It is not about this party or that. It is about democracies vs dictatorships. And the latter have found a way to break the former apart without firing a bullet! This will be the GREATEST danger to Indian democracy and to Modi’s work to take India forward hereon.
Narendra Modi will also not sit quietly. What happened to Mayawati – ousting of her and her party’s corruption – will be done to many. There will be no holy cows left anymore. Modi needs to get governments in major states like UP etc. and that is where he will act the most. This is the year he will get the majority in Rajya Sabha for BJP. That will change the trajectory of economic reform in India.
Therefore, this year I expect PM Modi to step up the pressure on many fronts. Income generation will get a boost by further opening up of the economy and easing of the business climate. Tourism will be given a big boost. Also, many new agreements will be done on the “Make in India” front.
Pakistan – Teetering on the Brink
Pakistan’s economy is literally in the ICU. The only way it can get some type of life support is the CPEC and some US assistance. And with the Republican establishment back in town, the assistance will be forthcoming now. If for nothing else, then on the pretext of “weaning it off China” – which again, would be a sham. One has to remember how the Republican White House earlier had helped Pakistan to get its complete Nuclear Plants program underway and engage in indiscriminate Nuclear proliferation. Here is an articulation of one of the worst instances of betrayal by a US White House – of Ronald Reagan no less – to benefit Pakistan. The CIA analyst being talked about in this piece is Richard Barlow.
Trawling through piles of cables, he found evidence that two high-ranking US officials extremely close to the White House had tipped off Islamabad about the CIA operation. Furious, Barlow called his superiors. “The CIA went mad. These were criminal offences,” Barlow says. The State Department’s lawyers considered their position. They argued that an inquiry would necessitate the spilling of state secrets. The investigation was abandoned just as Reagan made his annual statement to Congress, testifying that “Pakistan does not possess a nuclear explosive device.”
If this wasn’t bad enough, when in a closed congressional hearing to vet the intelligence concerning Pakistan’s bomb program – Democrat Congressman Stehpen Solarz tried to grill Reagan’s administration and question Barlow, then all hell broke lose.
Barlow recalls that Solarz got straight to the point: “Were Pervez and ul-Haq agents of the Pakistan government?” Without flinching, Einsel barked back: “It is not cut and dried.” It was a criminal offence to lie to Congress, as other hearings happening on the same day down the corridor were spelling out to Colonel Oliver North, the alleged mastermind behind Iran-Contra. Barlow froze. “These congressmen had no idea what was really going on in Pakistan and what had been coming across my desk about its WMD programme,” he says. “They did not know that Pakistan already had a bomb and was shopping for more with US help. All of it had been hushed up.”
Then Solarz called on Barlow to speak. “I told the truth. I said it was clear Pervez was an agent for Pakistan’s nuclear programme. Everyone started shouting. General Einsel screamed, ‘Barlow doesn’t know what he’s talking about.’ Solarz asked if there had been any other cases involving the Pakistan government and Einsel said, ‘No’.” Barlow recalls thinking, ” ‘Oh no, here we go again.’ They asked me and I said, ‘Yes, there have been scores of other cases.’ ”
The meeting broke up. Barlow was bundled into a CIA car that sped for Langley. It was a bad time to be the US’s foremost expert on Pakistan’s nuclear programme when the administration was desperate to prove it didn’t exist. Shortly after, Barlow left the CIA, claiming that Einsel had made his job impossible.
I expect the incoming Republican establishment to do a Reagan. Why? Because now there is another bogeyman on the horizon – China. It is the new monster. Specially for the Trump supporters, because China has the jobs they had. And, it is acting tough against the US. So who better to work with to counter China? No, not India. It will be Pakistan.
Meanwhile “for whatever reason” I expect the movements for Mohajirs and Balochistan to heat up a lot in the coming months. There will be militant groups as well. The only counter to this for Pakistan will be the reintroduction of sanctions on Iran and the pariah status that Trump and Republicans along with Israel want to thrust upon it. That one thing will severely impede the India-Iran joint project in Chahabahar and other cooperation projects with the Iranians. Thus helping Pakistan with the CPEC. This will leave very few options for India, and giving full fledged open support to Balochis will rank very high on the scale at that time.
Meanwhile, the Pakistani economy inherently will go from dangerously placed to literally tethering on the brink. To understand the real situation of the Pakistani economy, listen to this discussion where the analysts discuss how much debt the country has accumulated thanks to the plunder by its rulers. Even if the US – and China – may save Pakistan from impending collapse for now, the fundamentals of the economy will not change course. They are headed for the abyss.
And as it avoids the precipice for now, Pakistan will grow bolder – what with the backing of China to its terror infrastructure and US support in money – to use terrorism even more against India. Of course, quite a bit of the Islamic Jehadi fervor will hit Pakistan and even China pretty badly.
It seems very likely that some of the terror groups in Pakistan will start to work with the global terror actors to hit Western targets. That is what they have been looking to do – and as Drishtikone earlier said it was Pakistan, and NOT Osama Bin Laden, which did 9-11 – since long.
Overall, the next few years will cloak the complete destruction of Pakistan with help from China and US, but before the reality surfaces, it does have the potential of doing substantial damage to the world – both with terrorism (its main export) and with Nukes (with a shout out to Reagan for the good work!).
US – End of the Stay at the “Top of the world”
Putin’s great work during this recent elections of installing his own puppet – Donald Trump – and the Russian cronies like Rex Tillerson will lead to one consequence – re-establishing Russia as the other Great Power! For now, until Trump toes his line, US and Russia will be Братья – brothers. But when the “shit hits the fan” – and things go out of hand as Putin unveils his cards, then the gloves will be off.
I am convinced beyond a shadow of doubt that Trump is priming for impeachment. He is going so blatantly overboard that he himself does not realize why he was backed by the rust belt people. He – and anyone with a bit of common sense – knows that the jobs which have gone out will NOT come back. If they do, then most of the families which are complaining about jobs will go bankrupt anyways due to high inflation and product prices. Someone had to give them the news that we are now living in a global economy. And, the overall cost of a product in China IS cheaper than in the US. Majority of that is due to subsidies by the Chinese Government. Unless US opens its coffers to counter that, it is impossible to get the jobs back AND make middle class lives viable. So, rust belt has been screwed with badly. Specially by Trump. So, Trump will not be able to make up to any of his economic promises. And his “payments” in political favors to Putin (for the debt of Presidency) will make his administration oblivious to compromise on the national interest stuff to a large extent.
This may get some of the still nationalist Republicans off their inertia and do something. Lindsey Graham and John McCain will obviously lead the charge. That will end up in impeachment of Trump within the next year and a half. I have a strong feeling that it could happen within 2017 itself.
By then he would have done a lot of damage to the US interests. US will have a hyphenated relationship with Russia and China and be looked at in the same league. The economy will suffer as well due to reckless actions. But the worst impact will be on the American power – as Trump administration undermines UN and NATO, giving China and Russia what they need the most. Which will mean alternative and parallel universe with comparable organizations where Russia and China will hold sway over the other participants. US will no longer be involved in leading the world via such arrangements. Rather, it will be dictated to by the global bodies dominated by Russia and China.
New power centers will build up against the Russian – Chinese hegemony in Europe and Asia. Japan, India, Vietnam, Taiwan and possibly Australia will be part of one of the main coalition against these two.
2017 – The Year of Disruption
If 2016 was the year of bad news and hope from anarchists, then 2017 will be coming of age of the anarchists. With them these actors will bring about a complete disruption in the life as it was known to be in the past many decades.
Terrorism will be at its peak. Geo-political shenanigans will be unprecedentedly aggressive and direct. Old alliances and ways will give way to rhetoric sans facts ready to “rouse the base”. A base that has been and will continue to think from its arse as opposed to the brains. When the base realizes how they were taken for a ride, their ability to undertake a backlash would have been permanently compromised!!