Good News in Pakistan? Posted by: McQ
on Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Possibly. While it is true that Pervez Musharraf has been an ally of the US (albeit, not the strongest of allies) and much of the world is going to view this as a defeat for the US, in reality the total transition from a military dictatorship to democratic rule is a good thing - if they can keep the Islamists out of the government:
Pakistan appeared to be heading for a transition to an elected civilian government Tuesday after President Pervez Musharraf told visiting United States senators that he accepted the resounding defeat of his party in elections, and would work with a new Parliament.
Many Pakistanis expressed relief that the overwhelming victory of the two major moderate opposition political parties in the Parliamentary elections on Monday marked a change in direction after eight years of military rule under Mr. Musharraf even though in the past the parties have rarely produced models of stable government.
After fears that violence and vote rigging would mar the polling, international election observers described the victory for the opposition Pakistan Peoples Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-N as an accurate reflection of the voting.
There is no love lost between the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-N. How will it play out - well here's some speculation:
Mr. Sharif, who was ousted as Prime Minister in 1999 in a coup by Mr. Musharraf, framed his campaign on a distinct anti-Musharraf platform, a tactic that appears to have worked well and that brought his party an unexpectedly strong windfall.
Mr. Zardari sounded more accommodating tones about Mr. Musharraf.
Analysts said it was possible that Mr. Zadari would even seek to form a coalition with Mr. Musharraf’s party and leave Mr. Sharif ‘s party outside the government.
Nawaz Sharif heads the Pakistan Muslim League-N while Asif Ali Zardari is the leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party (and widower of Benazir Bhutto).
As it turns out, this may end up being a good thing for the US:
A former chief of staff of the Pakistani army, Gen. Jehangir Karamat, said the election of a new government should help the United States if Washington is looking to work with moderate forces.
“It’s an opportunity to rejuvenate this whole relationship,” General Karamat said. “What we are seeing through these elections is moderate and liberal forces which is absolutely great.”
The emergence of a Parliament of moderation should be good news for the United States, Shuja Nawaz, a Pakistani military analyst based in Washington, said. ”If Parliament will now have a stronger hand than before in national decision making then the United States should be pleased, since it will not have to beg and cajole Pakistan to act in its own interests against the terrorists,” Mr. Nawaz said.
During the election campaign, both Mr. Sharif and Mr. Zardari said they believed Pakistan had to turn the war against the insurgents into a Pakistani effort rather than one that was dictated by the United States.
These sentiments found resonance because Pakistanis had come to fear the insurgents but they resented the feeling that Pakistan, under the rule of Mr. Musharraf, had become a tool of the United States, analysts said.
Nawaz Sharif is an Islamist. You’ll note he is not targeted by any suicide bombers, etc. Hopefully he will be sidelined. Or maybe he has had a change of heart and become more moderate and less Islamist.