CHAPTER become more fragile and unpredictable. The
CHAPTER IV PLAUSIBLE SCENARIOS 2030 59. InPakistan political reins of the country consistently change hands between thepowerful army generals and the well heeled politicians. The domestic politicscontinues to become more fragile and unpredictable. The future of Pakistanhinges on several critical questions from which emerge likely strategicuncertainties. Pakistan’s ability to hold out against these in long term,feasibility of economic & democratic revival, likelihood of radical andreligious domination and state of domestic politics will shape the future ofPakistan. Constructing alternate scenarios based on a socio-politico andmilitary understanding of the Pakistani state will require assessment of keydrivers and inherent uncertainties which will shape future of Pakistan.
60. TheStrategic Drivers. The keydrivers which could play an important role in shaping the future of Pakistanare discussed below. 61.
Political Turbulence. Continuing political turbulence has led to a drift indomestic affairs of the state and resultant fragile state of Pakistan’s polity.Apprehension of likely stepping in by army driven by growing instability inBalochistan which gets compounded by raging radicalism is a matter of concern.Further in the ensuing political and dissonance, likely emergence of disparateradical groups as new power centres leading to greater radicalisation remains amatter of concern and forms an important strategic drivers. 62. Religion and Radicalism. Religious fundamentalism, acts ofterror, radical groups corroded and stressed state of state’s politicalinstitutions have all become a matter of concern impacting the pillars of thestate – the political leadership, thecivil society and the armed forces. It would have to be carefully watched ifthe Pakistani state ever succeeds in containing the tribulations of rampantreligious radicalism within the country.
63. Cracks in Federalism. Pakistan has been characterised by aweak federal structure. The turbulent peripheries i.e. the Balochistan, NWFPand FATA continue to pose a serious challenge to the integrity of the state.Sindh, Pashtun and Punjab too suffer from serious ethnic divide.
A carefulanalysis of Pakistani states capability of holding out against these divisivetendencies is needs to be carried out. Is it possible for the Pakistani establishment to satisfy demands ofgreater federal autonomy in the provinces of Balochistan or could prevailingchaos lead to the fragmentation of the Pakistani state. 64. Economic Revival. The grim state of economy withhigh dependence on foreign aid, escalating fiscal deficit along with increasedmilitary spending seem to be worsening the economic distress. Unemployment,inflation, food shortages are the fall out of dismal state of economy.
How willthese economic imbalances be corrected and can the economy simply sustainitself on foreign aid. Is radicalism impinging upon the country’s economichealth and would an equitable management of resources lead to a favourablebusiness environment are questions that need to be addressed. 65.
Relations with Neighbours. Troubled relationship with immediate neighbourhoodi.e. India, Iran and Afghanistan in form of long standing dispute over Jammu andKashmir, sectarian animosity with Shiite Iran, and the search for strategicdepth in Afghanistan show hardly any signs of improvement or reconciliation.Baloch problem has potential to further widen these fault lines as it adverselyaffected its ability to concentrate on these issues. A kind of obsession ofstrategic competition with India affects the probability of improved relationsin the neighbourhood.
Ability to reconcile its differences with its neighbourswill be an important driver for lasting peace in the region. 66. Extra-regional Interests. Gradual shift in global focustowards Pakistan in view of evolving internal security situation and increasedChinese footprints is evident. United States and its key allies are earnestlylooking to contain any volatile situation which may affects their geo-strategicinterests. China seeks to secure its interests in Balochistan, Pakistan throughcommercial investments, infrastructure development ventures and strategicmilitary cooperation.
At yet another level, Russia’s increased cooperation haspotential of changing overall equation in the sub continent. Saudi Arabia ,Iran, Afghanistan, Japan and France too are expected to play an important rolein the political, religious, economic and strategic affairs of the country. The Key Uncertainties 67. Some of these strategic drivers carry ahigh element of embedded uncertainty there by affecting future trajectorieshighly uncertain.
Those which are most crucial are discussed below: 68. Radicalism. Likelihoodof emergence and spread of religious fundamentalism in Baloch province couldbecome most dominant threat to Pakistani state. If so happens would Pakistan beable to contain the deteriorating situation? If not, then how far could thesocial and political landscape of the province and country worsen? Would ittransform in to an extremely charged religious environment or emergence as arevolutionary situation? The resulting situation would surely have severeconsequences for region.
69. Provincialism. Whether or not the growing demand forBalochistan provincial autonomy will lead to further turbulence and instabilitywithin the Pakistani society. How is it a threat to Pakistan’s unity andcohesion? Can the Pakistani establishment fulfil the compelling aspirations ofthe Baloch people within constitutional confines of the federal structure? Dothese fissiparous tendencies carry serious consequences for the future. 70. Democracy and Politics. Howwould gathering storms of ‘radicalism’ and ‘provincialism’ affect currentpolitical dispensation in Pakistan? Would it lead to another military rule?Would it ever fully reconciles to merits of a constitutional democracy?However, the continued importance being accorded to the military hierarchy byextra-regional powers does not seem to suggest so.
General Qamar Javed Bajwa’sappointment to Chief of Army staff, who is viewed as the right person tosuppress the Baloch separatist movements as well as is aware of dynamics ofKashmir on other end of CPEC points in this direction. 71. Current Economic Crises.
Whether or not US calling off militaryaid to Pakistan would impact its economy? Pakistani economy is sustainedlargely by foreign aid and loans. The social sector indicators such as healthand education paint not a comfortable condition. However as long China comes torescue of Pakistan, it may be in a position to finance its failing economy.Pakistan’s economy is currently stable and growing, says senior World Bankeconomist Muhammad Waheed. But there could be trouble if US calls in its debts.Also Washington is major creditor to all institutions like World bank, IMF andADB through which Pakistan economy is financed. 72. Theforegoing uncertainties could be the prime drivers in shaping the futurescenarios in Pakistan.
These have been inter-woven to evolve the plausiblescenarios in conjunction with other less consequential drivers. Theconceptualisation of these scenarios has been confined to the discussion of keyuncertainties.Each strategic uncertainty has been analysed to form basis of postulatingplausible scenarios for 2030.
Plausible Scenarios 2030 73. Fourbroad visualisations denoted as the – functional, fragile, failing anddisintegrated Pakistan have been assessed. Each scenario is based on a mix of possibilitiesdrawn from the key uncertainties discussed above. There could be a fewintermediate scenarios; however these are not discussed.
Notwithstanding thenegativities observed in the plausible scenarios, the probability of thePakistani state pulling itself out from the current mess cannot be ruled out. Scenario I 74. FunctionalPakistan. It is quitepossible that state of Pakistan is able to resolve its current Baloch problem.The Pakistan army sensing the implications of its Kill and Dump policy adoptsmoderate approach though virtually continuing to exercise overall control. TheBaloch people are eventually brought to political main stream. The marginalizedBaloch extremist realizing the futility of resistance and the long termeconomic dividends accruing out of CPEC eventually begin to cooperate to bringsome sense of order with in the province.
Federal government formulates soundsocio-economic policies therby improving health, education and law and ordersituation resulting in an uptrend in all spheres of public life. Scenario II 75. FragilePakistan. The politics of ‘powerswings’ is likely to be the norm for decades or even more. In the next powerstruggle military rule is re –established.
On account of growing demand forautonomy, resource sharing, political isolation and deteriorating social conditionsin Balochistan and other provinces, the age old animosity and hatred amongmilitary government and Baloch provincial parties widens. Though Pakistan civil society could be expected torally behind these power centres, but soon people of Pakistan realise the futilityof this brand of politics, or a charismatic figure emerges, whose vision andaura over shadows the current crop of politicians and generals. Scenario III 76. FailingPakistan. The internal faultlines are accentuated by issues of food shortages, climate change, watersecurity and the sharing of revenues of natural resources and minerals.
Growingradicalism and demand for provincial autonomy by Baloch people would be the keyuncertainties driving this condition. A civil war may possibly erupt inperipheral provinces of the state of Pakistan. Extreme radicalism rules andthese elements come close to laying their hands on some nukes.The Pakistanipopulace becomes increasingly vulnerable to the battle between the religiousforces and secularists. Development slows down and Pakistan becomes a nation ofconflicting interests.
Scenario IV 77. DisintegratedPakistan. In an effort to outsmart others in furthering their economic and strategic interests,extra-regional players –China being lead contender along with US & Russiatake control of Pakistan’s power centres knit around radical elements, militaryand religious parties therby decimating Pakistan’s capacity to influence itsfuture. It is forced to rent out itsterritory thereby affecting the state’s cohesion and development.
In theresulting power politics China illegitimately gains control of Balochistanprovince, Gilgit Baltistan virtually amalgamated. Pakistan in return expectedto be favoured by China in preventing India from re-claiming any of itsterritory in Jammu and Kashmir. However it could onlypartially prevent western powers, Russia and Shiite Iran from retaining controlover certain political constituencies in Pakistan out of resulting imbroglio.
78. Thereemerges an absence of clear alternative futures. The geo-political situation inthe region will continue to be volatile. A weak Pakistan threatens everyone inthe region. Pakistan’s future scenarios are linked to the regional future whichall must work to transform.
Given the current multi-faceted geo political,economic, strategic and religious dynamics, the possibility of a collapsealways looms in the background of any future scenario.Pakistan drawing itselfout from the scenarios – fragile, failed and disintegrated- and becoming afunctional state is the big question.