On Pakistani Elections

As predicted, the Islamist parties particularly in the NWFP fared very poorly.  I was expecting a big loss for the pro-Musharraf parties, but not quite this big.

Sumit Ganguly writing in Newsweek on what the next steps should be between US and Pakistan.

He writes:

If the country is to tackle its myriad problems of social injustice, political and religious terror and economic inequity, any coalition regime will have to eschew partisan political bickering, set aside any desire, however understandable, to seek revenge against Musharraf and move with dispatch to the tasks of governance. A failure to act in this fashion will leave the country vulnerable to the machinations of the Islamic zealots. It will dissipate the good will of the citizenry, dash their hopes for democracy and contribute to Pakistan’s continued political turmoil.

Right out of the gate that doesn’t sound likely to me.  If as looks increasingly possible, the Bhutto and Sharif Parties align they will push Musharraf out.  Ganguly says Musharraf should just step aside and the US should stop its support for the authoritarian leader—agreed.  But if he doesn’t, they will seek his ouster.  Particularly the Bhutto which recall blames Musharraf from Benazhir’s death.

This prescription sounds more feasible:

Fortunately, the United States may have a viable partner in this endeavor. Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani, the current chief of staff, seems interested in refocusing the military’s attention to its core task, the maintenance of the country’s security. To that end the administration needs to work with him to restore the independence of the judiciary, allow the free functioning of political parties, lift the remaining curbs on the press, end the militarization of civil administration and devote greater resources to addressing critical social needs such as health and education.

Kiyani is a big time player now.  Though so far not exercised it, but clearly wants to be Army Chief of Staff not executive of the government. What Ganguly seems to underestimate (or frankly not discuss at all) is that this is still the totally corrupt People’s Party and Pakistan Muslim League.  They are feudal dynastic political outfits not built yet for the kind of liberal order Ganguly hopes for seems to me.  Hopefully some of those reforms he outlines can get pushed through and some separation of the military from the civilian would be a good start.  The restoration of the independent judiciary would be even better.  Have to wait and see.

Yet again the fears of Islamism are overblown in Pakistan.  However, it must be said, a more dangerous turn could take place ((in the short run) as the Islamists no longer have a strong political future, more and more may turn to violence and the rejection of the liberal order.

Published in: on February 19, 2008 at 5:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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