Pakistan: A review (2013) and a Forecast (2014)
The year 2013 had been a watershed year with Pakistan going to democratic polls and Nawaz Sharif returning back to the helm of affairs. In spite of the growing autonomy of the provinces and the entry of new popular parties, the ability of such developments to bring a larger democratic stability is still a quandary. The severity of drone attacks and the perfunctory manner, in which Pakistan has been dealing with militant outfits in its soil, has further cooled relations with the United States of America. The phased exit by the US from Afghanistan holds much significance in dealing with the terrorist outfits and the implications of such an exit for India.
Touching upon these areas the speakers came out with a detailed review of the existing realities and a forecast of probable scenarios. The panelists Mr Rana Banerji, Dr Shalini Chawla, Alok Bansal and D. Suba Chandran, dealt on issues covering the political process, economy, the state of provinces and the talks with Taliban, respectively. The discussion session saw questions focusing on the sectarian fault lines, the role of army in talks with Taliban and whether a possible resurgence of Indo-Pak trade ties in this current environment.
Bangladesh: After Elections
Bangladesh was tested of its democratic and secular values during the course of the year 2013. The year commenced with the Shahbag protests and culminated with the violent anti-election protests. The rubric of these elections stems from the non-participation of the major opposition parties and the constitutional validity of the elections.
The panelists Dr Sanjay Bhardwaj and Nilova Roychaudhury threw light on the cultural affinity of the Bangladeshi masses and the secular nature of their political discourse. There was consensus among the panelists that Awami League party was still popular and that India is viewed upon as the trusted ally and game changer in the nation’s development. Both the BNP and the Jammat-e-islami are ushering in a radical Islamisation of the society which is alien to the Bangladeshi’s and this was unacceptable among the population, they argued. On opening for discussions the international pressure, especially the US, against Awami party was debated in length. The seminar ended on a positive note of further deliberations on Bangladesh’s political discourse.