South Asia in Turmoil
South Asia today presents a bleak picture today in terms of its security and political landscape. As one surveys the South Asian scene one finds that there is not even one corner which one can say is peaceful and placid. South Asia was drawn into the vortex of Cold War rivalries from the 1950s onwards by Pakistan's over-eagerness to offer itself as a rental state to serve United States strategic containment policies. The Cold War finished in 1991 but South Asia still did not cease to be less turbulent or less conflictual, again because of Pakistan's propensities to strategically rent itself out to yet another bidder and this it did to become a strategic prot'g' of China , a process that Pakistan began after 1962 Sino-Indian Conflict and picked up steam in 1965 when the United States did not support Pakistan's military adventurism against India. Pakistan thus emerged as a regional spoiler state and in the process has kept South Asia turbulent.
In 2009 Pakistan itself has become so highly turbulent that its very existence is at stake today. Pakistan after decades of sponsoring proxy wars against India by using Islamic Jihad as the motive force ironically today finds its existence endangered by the very same Islamic Jihadis that the Pakistan Army and its intelligence agency, the ISI, had nurtured to destabilize India. These creations of the Pakistan Army are today on a roll towards the capital city of Islamabad and the Pakistan Army till today seems to have abdicated its primary mission of defending Pakistan.
Bangladesh which this year emerged optimistically as heading towards political stability with a two thirds majority mandate won by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and intent on forging good relations with India, found that its political stability was an anathema to many in Bangladesh and their external sponsors. The Islamic fundamentalist elements which were trying to steer Bangladesh towards Talibanization and which stood checkmated by the election results struck back through a contrived violent mutiny by Bangladesh's para-military force- the Bangladesh Rifles. The violent mutiny was brought under control but it portended that the Islamic fundamentalists in Bangladesh working on an external agenda would be ready to strike again in the future.
Nepal which stood gifted to the Maoists by India's flawed foreign policy under the present Congress Government and by implication allowed to slip into China's strategic orbit is turbulent. The people of Nepal do not seem to have accepted the Maoists rule and dominance and more so the Maoists policies after they were pushed into power by wrong Indian policies. As if aware of this hostility, the Maoists are now in the process of targeting the Nepal Army whose soldiery and officer cadre were strongly loyal to the erstwhile Nepalese King. As a first step to 'communize' the Nepal Army the Maoists Government is planning to sack the present Nepal Army Chief as a prelude to sack other senior officers and also to induct Maoists cadres in the Nepal Army which the Army Chief was resisting.
Nepal could be headed towards a military coup and which would not only add turbulence that India is facing from Pakistan but also bring China in as China would be reluctant to tolerate the Maoists losing grip over Nepal. Wrong Congress Government policies would now add another turbulent border concern for India as if Pakistan was not enough.
Sri Lanka is presently in the midst of an all-out war against the LTTE's remaining stronghold in the North East. The Sri Lanka Army has gained spectacular successes against the LTTE who now are cornered in a ten square mile area and could crumble any day. More than in Sri Lanka there is greater political turbulence generated in India's Tamilnadu State where the fate of LTTE leader Prabhakaran has emerged as a highly sensitive electoral issue.
But it is Pakistan's precarious state of being besieged from within which is making sensational headlines the world over and that too for a very good reason. The United States and the West are perturbed that a Taliban take-over of Pakistan leads to Pakistan's nuclear arsenal coming under the control of Islamic Jihadis with unimaginable consequences for the United States and the West.
Today the Taliban is only 60 miles from Pakistan's capital city, Islamabad. And the Pakistan Army has shown no inclination to move forward to stem the Taliban's threatening advances towards Islamabad. As I have written elsewhere it seems that the Pakistan Army is either 'in an inglorious retreat' or it is in a 'calibrated , collusive collaboration' with the Taliban take-over of Pakistan.
The latter, however cynical, strategically seems nearer the truth. South Asia seems to be destined for more turbulent times as a consequence.
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Dr. Subhash Kapila
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