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19th December '2012
Waiting for 2014!

Recently, there have been many prophecies creating panic in some parts of the world about the doom’s day being round the corner. It is said that according to Mayan prediction the world will end on December 21, 2012! Michel Nostradamus also predicted something similar happening soon. However, in practical terms there are two analytical propositions which seem quite disturbing. One is the possible economic crash in 2014 and the other is the Afghan situation after American and NATO forces leave the area in that year.

Grady Means wrote in the Washington Times of October 25, “Those wild and crazy Mayans put down their marker that the end of the world would occur on Dec. 21, 2012 — about two months from now. There is, of course, some small chance that they might be right. On the other hand, there is a very large probability that the real end of the world will occur around March 4, 2014.The doomsday clock will ring then because the U.S. economy may fully crash around that date, which will, in turn, bring down all world economies and all hope of any recovery for the foreseeable future — certainly over the course of most of our lifetimes. Interest rates will skyrocket, businesses will fail, unemployment will go to record levels, material and food shortages will be rampant, and there could be major social unrest. Any wishful thinking that America is in a “recovery” and that “things are getting better” is an illusion”.

“The central problem is that America is the bank of the world. What this means, simply, is that the dollar is the world’s currency (often termed the “reserve currency”). Throughout the world, nearly all traded goods, oil, major commodities, real estate, etc., are denominated in dollars. The world needs dollars, and the U.S. provides them and provides confidence that the dollar is the “safest” currency in the world. The central issue is confidence in America, and the world is losing confidence quickly. At a certain point, soon, the United States will reach a level of deficit spending and debt at which the countries of the world will lose faith in America and begin to withdraw their investments. Many leading economists and bankers think another trillion dollars or so may do it. A run on the bank will start suddenly, build quickly and snowball”. Earlier in June, 2010, Professor Nicholas Boyle of the Cambridge University in his thesis had predicted the end of the world on same lines. According to him, “A 'Doomsday' moment will take place in 2014 - and will determine whether the 21st century is full of violence and poverty or will be peaceful and prosperous”.So much for the end of the world in practical terms!

Now, coming to our part of the world, the biggest worry is Afghanistan. What will happen once Americans and NATO forces leave the area? There are varied opinions and analysis. However, quite few experts point to a possible civil war among the tribes as happened after the exit of the Russians. The Americans after having arranged the exit of the Russians let Afghanis fend for themselves. The shadows of these coming events are visible from the present day happenings there. Three things are evident and point towards a coming grave situation. One is the continuous brain drain. There are continuous migrations of the educated and modernized Afghanis. According to some estimates the migrations are in hundreds of thousands. Quite a few go to Europe and America. Second is the brisk sale of arms. Everybody seems to be keen in getting some sort of a weapon to defend oneself in the forthcoming free for all among the tribes. Weapons of all types, mostly of the Russian make are available. In fact, the prices have shot up recently.

Weapons of American and European make are also available. These are being smuggled in from the Pakistan’s illegal weapons market of Landi Kotal! The third is the panic and apprehension among the foreign aid workers. They are not sure as to the attitude of the future government especially if it is led by the Taliban. Earlier too Taliban had made certain strict regulations for the aid workers after the exit of the Russians. However, that time these workers did not have any military associations but during the present upheaval they have been closely aligned with the military. That makes them more vulnerable.

Will the Taliban come back to power? That is the million dollar question! There are possibilities of a civil war between the Pushtoons and Uzbeks also. Both India and Pakistan are looking at post 2014 Afghanistan from their strategic angles. Pakistan is supporting Taliban for getting strategic depthwhile as India wants to keep Pakistan engaged from that side to get relief on its own side! Taliban were born and bred in Pakistan but that whole process proved ultimately very costly and the country is in total shambles with violence becoming a way of life. In any case, coming back of Taliban will be a nightmare for both the countries unless there is some agreement before they capture Kabul. One has to wait and watch.

Back home 2014 will also be a year of upheavals because of the elections. If all goes as planned, Pakistan may havean elected government in 2013 after having completed the tenure of its last elected one! However, it is not sure what shape the new government would have. On the Indian side even though there are speculations for an election in 2013, it is presumed that the present government may drag itself to 2014. However, most of the political analysts and even astrologers, who are an important part of life in India, predict a “Khichidi” government. All major parties are expected to get a drubbing. Some even predict Congress coming back with two digit tally only! BJP may also face a reverse. The third front may gain but all third front governments have been short lived. So India too may be in turmoil and face instability in 2014. Well, Kashmir, which too is going for elections may see some new slogans as “Bijli, Panni, aur Saddak” won’t sell this time after the experience of last four years or so. In brief, 2014 may spring many surprises all over the world, including the sub-continent and in Kashmir too! So let us wait for 2014, the year of change for the 21st Century as predicted by Professor Nicholas Boyle of the Cambridge University!

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