As Islamic “jehadi” hordes descend from the mountains in the north-west, reminiscent of the invasions from the same direction a few centuries ago, until stopped by the Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Pakistan looks increasingly unstable.
Pakistan is under threat of another take over by a military dictator. Parts of the country are already under Taliban control, providing safe havens for jihadi terrorist groups including al-Quida. Operating from these bases extremist Islamic groups can form alliances with Indian home-bred terrorists and destabilize the whole Indian subcontinent.
Politically, even India is not a very stable country, although for many reasons it is most unlikely to follow the same fate as Pakistan. India’s size, diversity of communities, Indian docile character, traditionally accepted horizontal and vertical religio-social and economic divisions and discriminations ensure that any sort of popular revolution against the system is unlikely. India’s instability is due to uncertain and indecisive coalition governments, which would continue to depend on the whims of regional parties. In the meantime the Hindutva agenda of BJP and other Sangh Pariwar organizations, will continue to antagonize the very sizeable Muslim minority providing breeding grounds for local Islamic terrorist groups, which are already forming alliances with external Islamic jihadis.
It is just conceivable that Hindu extremism can push India into another war with Pakistan. Both countries are nuclear powers and Sikh-Panjab is right in the middle!
Even a terrorist finger on the nuclear trigger is a possibility.
Pakistan’s problems are manifold. In fact, if one takes the Bangladesh internal instability into account, not to mention the Chinese threat from the north, and India’s internal security threats, the whole region is a troubled area.
The political struggle in Pakistan is between Nawaz Sharif who heads the opposition Pakistan Muslim League and President Asif Zardari who came to power, possibly on the wave of sympathy vote after the assassination of his wife Benazir Bhutto. The present political crisis in Pakistan centers around the supreme court Chief Justice Iftikar Chaudhry who was dismissed by ex-President Pervez Musharraf . Army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kiyani may decide to step in and take over if the situation gets out of hand during the present agitation by the country’s lawyers seeking the reinstatement of Chief Justice Chaudhry.
Zardari, with his previous connections with the Taliban, may have been behind the latter’s increased influence in Pakistan. It needs to be remembered that the Taliban were set up by the US in 1994 to fight Russian army occupation in Afghanistan. Barack Obama is now prepared to talk with the less extreme elements amongst the Taliban, a suggestion which has irritated some Indian observers.
Pakistan is half hearted about helping the US in its war on terror and US is not winning the war in Afghanistan. It is just possible that Obama may decide to pull out from the whole region under one pretext or another.
These are worrying times for the Sikhs of Panjab caught in the middle of these explosive events.