By Dr Jay Dubashi
Let me take out my crystal ball and have a good look at its insides. We have just entered 2012, which is a leap year, and, therefore, a dangerous one. Leap years start very gently, like a train just leaving a station, but often meet with accidents. The crystal ball tells me that we are in for more disasters than can be counted on the fingers of both hands, and some of the disasters may shake up not only India, but the whole world.
Take India first. We are in for a series of disasters – I mean political disasters – that can end up re-casting our political map. It is too early to guess what form they will take – I mean the disasters – but I won’t be surprised if some parties, or so-called parties, cease to exist after the shake-up. I see no future for the likes of Lalu Prasad Yadav and Mulayam Singh, as also for Sharad Pawar in Maharashtra. One or two groups in the South will also come to a sticky end. Only two parties will survive at the end of the turmoil, but, at this stage, it is hard to see which ones.
Economically, we are in big trouble. There will be depression with capital ‘D’ in the West, particularly in Europe and the US, and it will affect all of us. Europe is likely to break up, with a couple of countries being thrown out of the Union. That will be the end of Euro, and with it, the end of the European experiment, once and for all.
Let me come to the Middle East, which was much in the news throughout last year, beginning with Tunisia and Egypt. When Islamic countries are in trouble, Islamic parties rise to the top, and this is going to happen again. All the countries that ushered in the so-called Arab Spring will be taken over by the Islamists who will grab power in cities like Cairo, Tripoli and Damascus. But nothing is permanent in the Islamic world, and the Islamic parties will simply mark time until some other groups take over. A permanent feature of Islam and countries ruled by Islamic parties is chaos. And chaos will rule the Islamic world throughout the next disastrous decade.
There will be chaos in Iraq and Iran, and both the countries will collapse, if you can call them countries. Iraq will split three ways, with the Kurds setting up their own breakaway country in one corner. This will, of course, annoy the Turks, who have had always more than an eye on the oil wells of the Kurds, and they will invade the place. It is too early to say what the Americans will do, if the Turks push their army across the border, but they are not going to remain silent. The result will be break-up of Iraq and trouble for Israel and countries nearby.
Iran is a different kettle of fish but it considers itself as an imperial power and will try to assert itself, but in vain. The net effect of the turmoil in the rest of the countries in the Middle East is likely to lead to the collapse of Iran, but too many countries have a stake in Iran and its oil, and the collapse may not come about immediately.
Let us first talk about Russia before coming to Pakistan. Vladimir Putin is likely to be elected President of Russia, but the man is in big trouble and his problems will mount as he ascends the gaddi. Russia is already a broken country, though it tries to behave like a superpower which it once was, or which it believed it was. Of course, Russia has oil and natural gas, but as we have seen in Arab countries, oil doesn’t really help, when your time has come. And it seems that Russia’s time has come.
Russia is not going to break up, because it cannot really break up further than it already has. Its big size is a big advantage as well as a liability, but its biggest enemy is its own government. This was so during Communism and it is so now. Putin, a former KGB man, is a wrong man in the wrong place, but like Lenin and Stalin, he doesn’t think so. He is going to be under increasing pressure during the year, and a great deal depends on whether he can take it in his stride – or go under. My hunch is that he will go under, but Russia will survive, as it did after Gorbachev.
Now I come to Pakistan. There are people in India, particularly in the Press Club in Delhi, who go ga-ga when you mention Pakistan. That is because they were born in what is now Pakistan and they have not forgotten it. But there is no reason why we should take them seriously. They go on and on about why we should befriend the country, as if our fate depended on Pakistan and its so-called rulers.
Pakistan is not a country at all. Almost everything you learn about Pakistan is just make-believe. There is no country called Pakistan. There is only a Pakistani army, and it is Pakistani because it is located in Pakistan, or what is known as Pakistan. The country has been kept on oxygen all these years by some interested powers like United States which finances it. When the US stops financing it, it will collapse and vanish from the map.
Will it happen this year? My guess is as good as yours. But my crystal ball says it might happen. The Americans will be leaving Afghanistan soon, though one doesn’t know how soon. When the Americans depart, the country called Pakistan – though there is really no such country – will disappear, or will begin to disappear, despite the efforts of the army and the ISI to keep it together. After all, if indeed there is such a thing as Arab Spring, it is bound to affect Pakistanis also, for they have or think they have a kinship with Arabs. And when the Arab Spring hits Pakistan, nothing will be left of the country, despite the attempts of the denizens of the Press Club in Delhi, and, of course, its patron, Sardar Manmohan Singh, who, please remember, was also born in Pakistan.
Will the collapse of Pakistan affect India? No, it will not, for flies don’t affect elephants, though when they buzz about noisily, as Pakistan has been doing all these years, they can create lot of noise and, of course, lot of nuisance. We should never have taken it seriously, but there were some stupid people who did, and gave it too much importance. But time has now come to regain a sense of proportion in regard to our neighbours; the current year will be a good year to make a beginning. My crystal ball says that there will be one country less in Asia by the time the year is over, which will make the year quite a historic one!