South Asia in 2010: A Region in Flux

New Year celebrations

2010 will be a year of confusion, further confounded by ongoing violence, for west-south-central Asia. The region will be in flux, shifting from nowhere to nowhere, rather than in a transition for which the journey is charted and the destination known.

India will turn domestic, applying itself to hunger-driven insurrections and dealing with a dangerous fact of democracy: when opposition parties implode, the people become the opposition. Pakistan’s external problems, not the least of them being an epochal war across the Hindu Kush, will be compounded by the return of political uncertainty, institutional instability and the continued rise of the fringe.

Iran will continue playing patience, waiting for America to exhaust itself in punishing regional conflict and sterile diplomacy, but patience may not prevail amongst its own people. The Arabs will simply time out the year while Israel draws rings around Washington and the Palestinians wriggle in a septic trap.

There may be a faint chance of a happy new year in 2011, but as far as 2010 is concerned, try the Rip Van Winkle route for survival.

M.J. Akbar is a journalist, scholar and author of numerous books.  Most recently, he launched COVERT, a fortnightly political magazine in India.  This essay is part of the 2010: A Watershed Year for South Asia web forum, a collection of expectations about the greater South Asia region in the coming year.

2010: A Watershed Year for South Asia

Photo: Reuters Pictures.

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