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What’s in Store for 2017?

by Khaled Ahmed

File Photo. Rizwan Tabassum—AFP

How it is likely to play out for Pakistan.

In Pakistan, politics is in flux but the trajectory of the state is firmly set. This is because the mindset of the establishment in Islamabad/Rawalpindi is not yet subject to change. A dozen retired military officers who join TV discussions don’t yet disagree among themselves on anything: India is the permanent enemy state dictating the evolution of Pakistan.

This means that politicians will spend 2017 undermining one another while cocking an ear to the rasping sounds coming out of GHQ. Much of the lethal rhetoric will be low-level slander heaped on the opponent because he is a “chum” of India’s Narendra Modi. They will pretend to read the mind of the top brass in the retired discussants of strategy and train their guns of pretended outrage accordingly. Meanwhile the top brass will blink the further empowerment of the clerical underworld as politicians sink to the Hades of political vilification.

The economy will take a lot more than the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) initiative to recover enough to spread prosperity. Pakistan will keep on using vapid expressions showing how they feel about China and its “permanent” friendship.

Isolationism will continue to eat into the foundation of the state. Relations with the U.S. are expected to nosedive after president-elect Donald Trump takes over on Jan. 20. Trouble in Afghanistan will endanger Pakistan because of the absurd situation that condemns Pakistan for protecting the very terrorists who kill Pakistanis east of the Durand Line.

There’s small chance of it but next year might also be the year of toppling because Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s Imran Khan doesn’t want to lose his head of steam and Pakistan Peoples Party’s Asif Ali Zardari is squeezed by military action against extractions in Karachi. The madrassah will see itself coming on top, knowing that it inspires fear rather than faith, and jihad will be the endgame its nonstate actors aspire to. One can hope, but 2017 won’t be uneventful.

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