It's not a typo neither a joke. In fact, I am forced by friends to predict the outcome of elections but I hate to play jotish. However, the confidence posed by them, has encouraged me to take this leap of faith and make out a window into what might happen not in elections 2013 but in the run up to 2018. I am attempting to fast forward to General Elections 2018, touch wood and fly back to our own time. This might bring to fore what is at stake in the coming elections and give some of the anxieties and hysteria a more realistic perspective. So here is how my election kundli reads.
At about the time the new elected government in Pakistan will be going through the inaugural chores; there will be presidential elections in Iran. To be exact on June 14, 2013. President Ahmedinajad is barred from contesting as he has already completed the maximum of two constitutional terms. There is a strong possibility that these elections in Iran may turn out to be more than a change of face. Last elections, in June 2009, were followed by street protests by opposition leaders who alleged massive rigging by the conservative Iranian establishment headed by its Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, in favor of Ahmedinajad. The protests were filliped by a YouTube video of a protesting young lady who died as the police tried to break the crowd.
The campaign went out of steam after a few weeks. President Najad later fell out with the Supreme Leader who is considered the most powerful person in Iran – himself making almost every important decision. Iran's internal fissures will again stand exposed at the time of coming presidential elections. The anxious establishment has made some advance preparations, like enacting laws that will disqualify certain opposition leaders from contesting. The Iranian opposition too may be readying itself for a collision.
The Arab Spring is presently stuck at its last stopover, Syria, and may enter neighboring Iran at this opportune time. It does not take much now to work out the pattern that 'the revolutions' in the Middle East are following. It starts with a benign looking street protest that sustains and then turns violent. It spreads across cities and gives way to armed resistance by semi-organised groups. The West recognises them as legitimate and arms them, adding fuel to fire till it burns down everything to ashes. If the local militias falter half way, they are provided direct air support by the Western forces. Violence in Iran will not augur well for us. I will avoid speculating further.
Following the possibly exciting rendezvous of the Arab Spring with the Persian summer, the autumn of Pakistan will not be mundane either. President Asif Ali Zardari's term will expire in September 2013, barely three months after the takeover by the new elected government. Pakistan Peoples Party's majority in Senate will still be intact. It will be interesting to see how 'the master mover' mixes it with whatever results the elections to the National and the four provincial assemblies will throw up. It has been quite a while for the President and the Prime Minister to pick a quarrel; will this tranquility continue to prevail between the new pair after September?
Ten weeks later Chief of the Army, General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kiyani, will pay the farewell call to the newly elected President. The General will complete his extended term late in November 2013. By then he would have spent six long years at the top. His term was extended in 2010 as continuity vis-à-vis our engagement in war on terror was considered strategically important. The war will not have been concluded by then but the international forces in Afghanistan will be about to enter the non-combatant phase. The phase will require from Pakistan a new approach in relations with Afghanistan whose key generally is held by the army chief.
Appointment of a new army chief in Pakistan always causes anxiety in political circles. It is considered one of those rare windows that let an elected civilian government meddle with the otherwise strictly 'internal affairs' of our army. What will the appointment symbolise this time? There is one more aspect with which the new army chief will be judged. General Kiyani is on record to have said that he is India-centric, whatever that might mean. What would be the new chief's centricity?
While the new army chief will still be busy with briefings, it will be time for Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry to attend the full court reference called in his honor. On 12 December 2013, the Chief Justice will turn 65 that is the age of retirement for Supreme Court judges. So 11 December will be the end of undoubtedly the most spectacular period in the history of judicial activism. The current CJ draws strength from not only his position as the top judge but also from 'the popular mandate' that he had acquired through the street campaign following his dismissal and reinstatement in 2007-08. Whoever will replace him won't have the same elated, almost haloed, position. This will change the present course of relations between the elected government and the higher judiciary. The turn the trajectory will take will have impact on the then political environ.
When the new year celebrations will start (I am an optimist), the country will have a new Prime Minister, President, cabinet, provincial governments, army chief and Chief Justice - the system will be zero-meter.