PTH is grateful to Johnny ( also known as Jai ho) for contributing this article.
Many thinkers on both sides of the border believe that that India and Pakistan may be two different countries but their destinies are tied together for ever. And they are right. Because the partition was an internal arrangement of the peoples of the British India and other foreign powers were not affected by it. Rather, from single market point of view. foreign trading powers are more affected by separated countries than benefitted. As the trade between the two hostile neighbours is not free and also not likely to become free for the near to medium future, they are more inclined to atleast see and think both the countries as one entity. This is also true for the global political powers particularly after the end of the Cold War in the 1990s. After the end of the Cold war , both the countries vied for the attention of the sole Super Power and not to say that in this race, India raced much ahead of Pakistan. So much so, that but for the past obligations of Pakistan, the marriage between the US and Pakistan almost but ended with US finding a new bride in India. But of late,the things have started to change with the US realising that the new bride is too much stubborn and too much demanding and to some extent-unrealiable.
After the end of Cold War and disintegration of the Soviet Union, a new term “The New World Order” was coined. It basically meant that the US was to be acknowledged as the Sole super power, the former East Block was to be balkanised and he remanant of the Soviet Union i.e Russia was to be put in the back waters of the World. This arrangement worked well for a decade but ended abruptly on 9/11/2001 when an unknown rag-tag Islamic group calling itself Al-qaeda “attacked” the mighty US empire in its own home. Worse, the new warfare adopted by Al-qaeda, which was termed as “terrorism”, appeared to be so potent that the modern civilised world appeared to have no reply to it militarily.
On the other hand, yet another development was undergoing in the far-off world(from the US) which had the potential of changing the economic and military equations of the world altogether. That was the rise of China as the new economic and military superpower. Finding itself between a rock and a hard place, the US decided to take the bulls by their respective horns. The threat of Al-qaeda was taken up directly through military action whereas for China, the US decided to take a longer circuitous route. For the next 15 years from 9/11, the US spent its entire energies on these two fronts which resulted in weakening of its economy too. In between it put up two old feathers for its cap i.e. destruction of Saddam Hussain of Iraq and capping of Nuclear program of India and recently of Iran. Fifteen years later, the US seems to have won half the battle and lost the other half.
First things first.Al-qaeda has been destroyed but a more dangerous clone in the form or ISIS has born. Whereas Al-qaeda was limited to fighting with the US only, ISIS has much more wider plans. It aims to establish a Islamic Khalifate in the heart of the Middle east and control the affairs of 1.5 billion strong Muslims population spread all across the world. Worse still, after the initial euphoria around Al-qaeda , the support of Al-qaeda amongst common muslims had dwindled rapidly and at the end of its life, it had found itself alone, but the influence of ISIS is increasing day by day in the Muslims of all the directions,shades,hue and cry. Also, the handling of Al-qaeda was easy but its top brass was concentrated on a single location, but that of ISIS is spread far and wide. Further,Al-qaeda could be crushed by sending forces to an isolated region whereas crushing of ISIS would entail sending of ground forces to a politically and economically volatile region of the world. As the sole super-power knows its limitation in dealing with such enemies,it has shown no interests in dealing with ISIS. Also, the US seems to be economically reluctant and militarily unable to undertake this military adventure.
The second major development has been the tumbling of emerging economic superpower China. Although it was getting clearer and clearer for the past four-five years that the Chinese ship is entering into rough waters, but so far the Chinese captains and crew had been able to steer the ship but now no more. The worst fears are that the days of China being the “factory of the world” producing cheap goods is over. It appears that China will put restrictions on FDI and severely limit the MNCs using China as their manufacturing base. China ,in future, is more likely to depend upon its indigenous industry and internal demand for growth rather the FDI and global demand. With $ 3.5 Trillion dollars under the belt, China is still not a lost case after all, but the new China is likely to bring tremendous changes in the world. Crude Oil slipping below $30 a barrel is one such after effect. Further fall in Oil prices can devastate the economies of many countries like India who export a large merchandise to the Oil producing countries. The fall in Oil related income will put pressure in the economies of the OPEC countries which will,in turn, put severe pressure on the economies of poor third world countries like Pakistan,Bangla Desh,Srilanka which are a major manpower exporters to OPEC. Therefore, the tumbling of Oil prices to the gutter is not a very good news for all.
The third major development of recent years is the military resurgence of Russia. After a long time since Leonid Breznev, Russia under Valdimir Putin is showing a new confidence in occupying a centreplace in global affairs. Also, its neighbouring regional powers ,be they in Europe, Middle East or Asia have shown inclination to work and co-operate with the new Russia. But, how far this confidence is real and how much influence the new Russian will be able to exert on the world is to be seen. Nevertheless, with the upcoming US Presidential election becoming a circus of comedians rather than a battle between real democratic leaders, Putin seems to be all set to the dominate the world stage for the next ten years.
With these developments, the world is again standing on the verge of another “New World Order”. It appears that the world has realised the same and has started moving in that directions. But for the peoples separated by the Wagah Border, it is more important to ponder that where do the Al-hindi cousins stand in the emerging new world order? Will they matter at all or just remain as two jokers in the peck of new cards?