‘Another Balakot May Not Be Far-Flung’

IRSHAD SALIM — Over 500 hundred years (544BC) before an artificial line was drawn in history — to mark the Birth of Christ and declare the rest as ancient, Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu — traditionally credited as the author of The Art of War — had said, “Never disturb your enemy when he is committing a mistake”.

Tzu’s ancient but powerful and oft-repeated “war-of-words” has transcended into modern history and become a narrative even well considered in corporate enclaves today. Included are these two below also:

The supreme art of war (rivalry/competition) is to subdue the enemy without fighting.

The good fighters (corporate slaves) of old first put themselves beyond the possibility of defeat, and then waited for an opportunity of defeating the enemy (competitor).

These together seem to characterize Pakistan’s thought-leaders’ postures vis-a-vis Indian PM Narendra’s August 5 move in Kashmir, which in the words of German Chancellor Angela Merkel “is not a good situation, not sustainable”.

At that time, I called Pakistan’s responses laced with “strategic restraint” and “strategic patience”, and posted a picture of Picasso painting the famous World War II period Guernica, followed with one next to it (drawn in October 2015 in Islamabad).

It’s Christmas holidays now with less than two weeks away from ringing in the New Year, and we hear the news of two more Modi-style brickbats stirring the hornets nest in India: The National Register of Citizens (NRC) meant to document all citizens in Assam which has somewhere around 1 million Bengali Muslims from neighboring areas, and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) — approved by the parliament — to accept all the undocumented — including refugees within India except those among the huge lot who are Muslims.

Add to these disturbing events, is the ominous news that India’s economy may be in a tailspin. The largest democracy in the world was forecasted to become one of the top three in global rank — with China becoming the numero uno. But that may be an iffy according to some observers.

Dark clouds are gathering on India’s economic horizon: The Modi-led government is trying to stop Reliance Industries from selling a 20% stake to Saudi Aramco and paring its assets to honor a $4.5 billion international arbitration award. Also, Ambani is hitting the brakes on a seven-year, $100 billion investment spree across refining, petrochemicals, telecom and retail — the tycoon who has been supportive of Modi’s moves for over a decade now, wants his conglomerate to be a zero-net-debt company in 18 months. All this on his friend Modi’s watch.

India’s banking sector, the real estate and the retail — three of its five economic drivers, are witnessing mutually inclusive aberrations, leading to fiscal upsets up the ladder, followed by outcries from the affected public down the totem pole.

The real (upsetting) development, however, is on the social front post-CAB and NRC, says a Pakistani defense analyst. His views seem to back media reports emerging from ‘the largest democracy of the world”, and from social media chatters and viral videos daily with alacrity.

“If BJP is able to push through implementation of these two legislation, “that will seal India’s fate,” says the analyst.

According to him:

  1. BJP is a typical religious party which thrives on societal and inter-faith discords.
  2. Having used anti terrorism/Pakistan card to win elections, they have used abrogation of article 370 and Ayodhia SC verdict to coverup their economic failures.
  3. To maintain their political relevance, they will continue this path of Hinduatva.
  4. BJP dilemma is reflected by ANP example in Pakistan, which has gone to oblivion after the renaming of NWFP, and sidelining of Kalabagh Dam issues.
  5. Whereby ongoing internal strive will put spanner to India’s economy and take away luster from the carefully crafted facade of largest functional democracy and secular credentials — the danger will remain that India will ratchet up tensions in the region to divert domestic attention away from real issues.

“Another Balakot may NOT be far flung”, he predicts.

Across the Atlantic, northwest of the ongoing disorder in South Asia, the statement could well be interpreted as a possible “black swan event” and a “false flag” in the making.

And that’s the way it is: Walter Cronkite’s well known departing catchphrase, to quote.

The writer is a business consultant, advisor and analyst based in Islamabad. He’s also the Editor/Publisher of DesPardes.com and PKonweb.com