Changing global order and South Asia


Brig Tariq Khalil (R)


TODAY the South Asian region is in turmoil.The reason, the shift in the world order from unipolar to multiple.

After the demise of the Soviet Union, the US is the sole supremacy in the world affairs.US became the judge, jury and the executioner.

The Arab spring offensive was initiated in Obama’s era which destroyed the established regimes in the Western Africa and the Middle East.

The death and destruction followed the spring uprising is unprecedented.Hundreds and thousands of people died in the saga of unwanted wars.

The turmoil gave birth to a number of sponsored terrorist organizations, result, the region is still in turmoil.

Multiple events in the backdrop of international drama are still happening.The US supremacy as a superpower is declining.

In the East, China has emerged as economic superpower.Whereas Russia has been modernizing and consolidating its military strength in the last 15 years.

The alliance between these two countries, one an economic superpower and the other military power has tilted the strategic balance from West to East.

This phenomenal change is going to impact not the global scenario but also South Asia.

The readjustment in the policies of various countries is inevitable to face the emerging challenges to confront the pressures in the changed milieu.

The pressure on the US to stem the downward tide and to ensure its continued superpower status generates uncontrollable forces. Thus, the changing equilibrium gives birth to new conflict zones.

On the other hand, as a follow up, the Ukraine-Russia border war after WW-II, in the heart of Europe created a new strategic tug of war, not only in Europe but globally.

It is a battle between emerging power centers and the existing world order. This is almost 56th day. There is no doubt EU and America are fueling the Ukraine blaze.

Both Us Secretary of Defense and State were in Kiev. Apparently, every effort to cease the hostilities is thwarted.

The sanctions imposed by the US and EU are hard but Russia and China have made arrangements for mutual financial security and transactions; that the ruble bilateral payments agreed between these two countries.

The arrangement/facility is being extended to other countries as well. They bypass the swift and have introduced alternate settlement systems.

Russia already also switched to gold standard detaching from US$. This arrangement is likely to hit Petro dollar in the longer run.

Prolonged war is going to push the world into a catastrophic economic and financial storm. Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein tried to shift from Petro dollar.

They ended up being killed. Nevertheless, in the changing world order, the supremacy of Petro dollar cannot be sustained by America any longer.

The result is turmoil, conflicts and extreme hardships for the smaller countries like Pakistan.

It may be recalled that India-Russia deals at US$ 35 has made tremendous gains to India (approx.US 20 billion $) defying the sanctions.

India is getting away from the American wrath being a large country and a strategic compulsion of US.

Whereas Imran Khan’s last May visit to Moscow envisaged the similar arrangement. Reportedly Russia has now offered a multi-billion dollar four year’s economic and industrial proposal to Pakistan.

It has to be seen how new government responds. Yet in the new world order, the Petro dollar superiority cannot be sustained longer.

Similarly, pullback is necessary if smaller countries have to get out of this perpetual strangulation of dollar.

They must define own non-aligned course and should have the right to deal as it is fit in the currency of their choice, as ordained in UN Charter.

But the countries like Pakistan need national cohesion, very strong, prudent and sensible leadership.

Prepare the nation to bear the hardships which may be imposed by US by adopting policy contrary to their wishes. On the other hand, Russia-India deal, for Pakistan allows physical space.

Economy and security in unison is fundamental in the national policy adopted by Pakistan. Pakistan must maintain good relations with the US.

But that does not mean that Pakistan should become a subservient state and allow its territory to be used for offensive actions against other states.

This policy of allowing its territory has incurred not only tremendous human loss but also massive economic loss of billions of dollars to Pakistan in the bargain.

Let’s not be naïve and must analyze The US policy towards Pakistan ever since 1948. The US State Department papers and various dispatches of the consulate and embassies since declassified indicate how stick and carrot policy has been used by Americans against Pakistan.

However, this cannot go on for two reasons, one, economic change occurring globally impacting the world order, second, rise of China as economic superpower coupled with Russia as a military power.

The strategic alliance between the two has tilted the strategic balance completely. Pakistan also has to readjust itself in new geostrategic milieu.

The second important factor remerging in Pakistan is the rise of political consciousness in the youth.

The feudal and the strong Industrial elite, along with the Baradari (caste) system still holds good but dying, overpouring of young and old into streets to support Imran is the beginning of new dawn and political consciousness.

Our political parties must understand this important phenomenal change if they have to survive in coming decades.

Gone is the time that age old slogans bradriism (caste) and feudalism will continue to prevail.

There has to be a new political dispensation to usher Pakistan in the 21st century.

Failing, it will always at the mercy of big powers, as Daniel SMarkey, John Hopkins University, in his book NO Exist from Pakistan, elaborate the contours of US policy.

Keep Pakistan destabilized to be economically dependent. The hard fact is Pakistan though small compare to India its strength is in the army.

It is the center of gravity. The fear is the grass gets trampled when two elephants fight.

The partition of subcontinent Pakistan and India was done on the premise that both the countries will live happily like Canada/USA.

The death of Gandhi and Jinnah allowed the hawks in both countries to prevail into their government policies a la civil military bureaucracy created situations leading towards perpetual animosity.

Kashmir dispute is one lingering conflict. At partition as other problems were resolved at high cost, like division of Punjab, Assam and Bengal, the Kashmir problem could have been solved.

It was not in the interest of those elements in India. The result, we perpetually are a bleeding wound in subcontinent engulfing hundreds and thousands of lives and economic loss for both the countries.

The revocation of Article 370 and 35A, the RSS agenda. The regional balance can never be set right until this problem is resolved amicably by both the countries.

Being nuclear powers, they cannot remain at war-like conditions forever. They must learn from ASEAN where Indonesia as a big brother sacrificed some of its demands for common good.

Under Modi and RSS this may remain a dream. The sub-continent requires wisdom and foresight to achieve peace in the changing global order.

Domestically, the present political scenario is fraught with internal and external dangers. The nation must be ready to face economic and political fallout.

—The author is a Brigadier Rtd a decorated war veteran, a senior Defence and Industry analyst.

(Courtesy Pakistan Observer)