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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

So What So What So What's The

Another day, another great South Asia class. We had Pamela Constable come in to speak to us on Human Rights -- fresh of an interview with Mukhtar Mai last night. It was much more powerful than I was expecting, and the Human Rights situation in South Asia is rather scary, women's rights in particular.

Later in the afternoon we heard from Ambassador Ashley Wills, who's now with USTR. He's a South Asia expert and served as Ambassador in Sri Lanka. Much of the talk was about the coming election in Sri Lanka. It was a little sobering. A paraphrase: "Sri Lanka is one of the most Edenic countries in a world... with the scar of 25 years of civil war running down its face." Yikes.

On the Metro home I cooked up a nightmare scenario. If you're even slightly familiar with South Asian politics, does this make sense?:

Please note: The following represents my prognostications and views and not those of the US Government, the State Dept., or any related organization.

Currently: India is led by a delicate coalition that includes vote support from the CPI(M) of Bengal, though they are not formally part of the coalition. Through this most fragile of alliances, Singh has risen to power. He has begun a thawing process with Musharraf, bringing the two countries to a state of careful detente. But we know how these things can change...

Sri Lanka has been through civil war for years, and Wickramasinghe is apparently (this according to Wills) running for PM with a policy that would be very offensive to the Tamils. Right now he's behind in the polls but only by a few points.

So: Wickramasinghe wins in Sri Lanka, and his more left-wing allies (LVP, right?) push him to implement the ant-Tamil policies. This inflames not only the Tigers, but Tamil Nadu. Civil war (or at least civil conflict) starts again, and India perceives the happenings in Sri Lanka as anti-Hindu. Singh's ruling coalition falls apart from increased pressure from the BJP, who ride a renewed crest of Hindutva to victory in Parliament. In the meantime (this is where I'm really stretching things), the Pakistani government sees weakness both in the increasingly accomodationist Musharraf and the Indian government... and the Pak military does what they are wont to do. Of course, we're watching Musharraf's back, so hopefully the latter part of this prediction is less likely.

So: a new BJP led government in India, a civil war in Sri Lanka, and (possibly) a new dictatorship in Pakistan that could be more hard line than Mr. Musharraf. And after that? Well, if you remember Kargil, and 2002, and so on, you know where I'm going.

Of course this is all speculation. Will someone with more expertise in South Asian politics please tell me that all the above proves is that I'm a crappy political analyst with no idea of the realities involved here? That would make me feel much better. Also, State peeps: should I delete this entry? I know, I won't be able to write like this at post, but by then I'll have a different blog.

UPDATE: Clarifications are needed. I don't think violence would spread to Tamil Nadu -- but feelings of anger leading to a BJP revival certainly could. And my feelings about the Pak military could be off the mark, which is why it's really just a nightmare scenario. I think Musharraf is stronger than how I characterize him here.