By Nadir Ali
The current chaos is the result of a disagreement over the center of gravity, or centers of gravities. As a result of this disagreement over authority and location of these centers of gravity, there has been an imbalance in global and regional affairs. Wars and conflicts have arisen in many areas, including financial, trade, and currency wars, as a result of a significant eastward shift in the global economic and demographic center of gravity. The global centers of gravity for governance, the military, and finance are all changing, on the other hand. A power imbalanced “gray area” has been produced as a result. Disparities in economic resources and social influences are thus increasing because of this, combined with human and social constraints, which has created a combustible environment.
In order to maintain the structures, orders, and institutions that people had grown accustomed to, globalization is dissipating and international norms are being revised. The so-called global rule-based order is being replaced by creative methods and the selective application of laws through tactics like coercion and law fair. International organizations created with the United Nations as their apex body to foster peace and security have, at best, been reduced to conflict management tools. Strong man politics are prevalent, hyper nationalism, protectionism, and populism are most definitely ascendant, and each has a cost and a historical context. This does not make for comfortable reading. These debating clubs with power held by the “few” have lost real relevance to the real world. This results in the rise of zelophobia, islamophobia, intolerance, racism, and all the other signs and symptoms of populism.
Unfortunately, these symptoms have been made legitimate at times by pallet. This is a sign of the chaos brought about by the process of society’s transformation because social media, which was initially seen as a mechanism for fostering knowledge and camaraderie, has instead shown to be just as effective at fostering prejudice, paranoia, propaganda, and conspiracy theories. As evidenced by Cambridge Analytica, it has evolved into a tool, if not a mega-tool, for manipulation. A deadly concoction of social despair, if not outright revolt, is being produced by the asymmetry of politics and economics. Furthermore, the geopolitics of the world are increasingly based on zero sum paradigms. Unfortunately, this is the situation. Every old structure pertaining to arms control, security, governance, trade, economics, and regional structures like South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in a regional context has either become abundant or is no longer relevant.
These structures have produced a perilous illusion and delusion system. The economic conditions in the region and around the world as well as new security concerns are reshaping and changing how nations relate to one another. Conflicts between states are no longer purely between military forces or between states; they also involve all facets of social and political power. While open conflicts and wars are evolving into non-traditional, less kinetic gray hybrid domains, new geopolitical organizations and non-state domains are emerging that cross international boundaries. This is a new reality and a new normal that Pakistan is currently experiencing and most likely will continue to experience.
Last but not least, nationalism has taken on a hideous new shape and a hideous new meaning. There has been a swing towards absolute religious ideological nationalism as well as ultra-nationalism, which is what is igniting the right wing’s revival of medieval moments. The geostrategic significance of the South Asia region has persisted and is likely to grow in the twenty-first century. This is brought about by the advantageous location, abundant natural resources, population, economic opportunities, cultural diversity, and historical power.
Therefore, the external powers seek to engage South Asian countries in pursuit of their grand strategic interests. There is a kind of cold war revival with hard underpinnings and historical overtones. We did not choose this to happen, nor did it choose us. Despite how unpleasant this reality is, it is the reality. It didn’t have to be this way. A recent example of shifting interests and re-aligning power structures is how South Asia is also affected. Global strategy has become necessary due to the potential growth of China and India, as well as the resurgence of Russia.
Nadir Ali is associated with the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI). He has written for Pakistan Today, Pakistan Observer, Global Affairs, and numerous other publishers. He tweets at @hafiznadirali7 and can be reached at email@example.com
The views and opinions expressed in this article/Opinion/Comment are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk (DND). Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk News Agency.