Trouble for the Happy Pakistani Couple


sharif-zardari split.JPG
AP is reporting that Nawaz Sharif’s party has pulled out of cabinet positions from the coalition government with the PPP led by the late Benazir Bhutto’s husband Asif Zardari. While they’ve pledged to try to work out their differences, my sense is that despite the triumphalism and high expectations of democracy cheerleaders, the coalition continues to reside on a shaky foundation that can fall apart at a moment’s notice.
The difference is over judges dismissed last year by President Musharraf — reports states the two have disagreed not on “whether” to reinstate the judges but merely “how”. But the devil (not to mention the locus of power) is in the “how”. After all, Musharraf could contend that he too wants a stable and sustainable representative government for the future for Pakistan, he merely disagrees with Sharif and Zardari on the “how.”
The situation as it stands now strikes me as untenable — there is little advantage to remaining in a coalition government if one doesn’t have control of certain ministerial portfolios, especially with a feudal politics of Pakistan where the ministries are essential to shoring up political support amongst one’s constituencies. And one cannot reap the political rewards and capital of taking a distinct stand on the judges issue unless one is formally in the opposition. Sharif is likely making a power play to threaten dissolution of the coalition. To retain power, Zardari would have to bring in other parties into the coalition government, possibly the remnant of Musharraf’s party and coalition partners, which would proportionally forfeit his newfound democratic credentials and legitimacy.
It was expected that Sharif and Zaradari would have a hard time forming a coalition and holding it together given the legacy of bad blood between the two and their respective parties — Sharif’s party kicked electorally booted out Bhutto party twice in the 1990s, Zardari served a prison sentence for corruption under Sharif’s second term as Prime Minister, and Bhutto/Zardari initially tried to cut an American-brokered deal with Musharaff and squeeze Sharif out of the Pakistani political scene.
Most importantly, so long as Pakistani politics continues to be feudal in nature, governance will primarily remain a task of channeling the national patrimony to one’s base. And this fundamentally problemitizes a power-sharing arrangement between two dominant parties with very different constituencies.
–Sameer Lalwani


7 comments on “Trouble for the Happy Pakistani Couple

  1. Awshucks Zardari says:

    Goodness. Pakistan has been in the headlines for over half a year and you guys haven’t a clue about the country.
    The reason why the coalition is faltering is because Washington trying to split the coalition. It doesn’t like one party and will only accept it if it makes electorally unpalatable concessions.
    Negroponte, Boucher, and Patterson are forcing the PPP to ditch the PMLN and the lawyers movement and join up with a militant (though secular) party called the MQM. It’s just like US support for Muhammad Dahlan in Gaza.
    Washington has forced the PPP to accept Musharraf and ditch the judges. But over 70% of Pakistanis want Musharraf out and the judges back.
    You guys are so blind.


  2. Steve Jones says:

    Forgiven, Tony – judging from your previous thoughtful comments,
    it surprised me that you would let loose with such a tirade. Those
    “certain circles” have indeed captured the reins of our halls of
    government, and may indeed act with pre-emption before we can
    stop them. It frightens me, knowing the amount of power we have
    yielded to the likes of GWB and his boss Cheney.


  3. TonyForesta says:

    Forgive the nuke speak Steve Jones, and you are right – that “We’d be mass murderers, and there’s nothing to be gained from that.” My point was that (if Pakistan fell to the jihadists) certain circles would not hesitate to strike at Pakistans nuclear capabilities preemptively. In fact we may see preludes to these kinds of striks in Iran or Waziristan.
    Many Americans would not support this kind of nuclear lunacy, – but most Americans do not support the lunacy ongoing in Iraq either, – and there is nothing any American outside the halls of government can do about it.


  4. Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi says:

    One may tender his compliments and goodwills to the democratically lacking Pakistani nation to come out from the vortex of political- cum- institutional crisis. The ground realities on the political scene do indicate that to manage the current crisis, the three groups- the establishment, the civil society and the political parties would have to jointly work for- probably an idealist and a rosy scenario.


  5. Steve Jones says:

    “Pre-emptive nuclear strike?” Good god, Tony, you’re talking
    nuclear terrorism. We’d be mass murderers, and there’s nothing
    to be gained from that. They can kill me, but they’ll never make
    me accept nuclear terror as a proper response to jihadists
    gaining political control of Pakistan and its nuclear weapons. Or
    as a response to Iran building a nuke for that matter.
    Besides, there are methods short of threatening to nuke a nation
    to prevent that from happening. In fact, you noted the best one
    it in your first sentence. We (Americans) should educate
    ourselves about the wants and needs of Muslims. And to tell ’em
    we’re not all imperialists. There’s a whole lot of Muslims out
    there telling us about those wants and needs, but, dammit,
    we’re not listening. We’re acting out of fear, to the point that we
    elected the biggest fear-mongers on the planet in 2004. As did
    the Iranians in electing Ahmadinejad.
    If we stop electing fear-mongering fundamentalists, if the
    moderates took their governments back from the my-god-is-
    better-than-your-god types, humanity might just survive a
    while longer. We’ve got to start working with the moderates in
    other nations to stop this mad slide towards fulfilling St John the
    Divine’s lunatic prophecy.


  6. TonyForesta says:

    Pakistan, like all muslim influenced nations remains an wild unknown, unknown, because America has absolutely no understanding, appreciation, or recognition of the wants and needs of muslims, or islam. The extreme elements of islam, are no different than the extreme elements of christianity, or judaism, or buddism, or whateverism or ‘anity’ – all of whom are bloodthirsty, supremist, ruthless, lawless, perverted, and criminal.
    It is the moderate factions that advance societies, – not the fundamentalists, my-god-is-better-than-your-god klans.
    That said, who controls the nukes?
    Jihadist control of nukes (regardless of the parable describing how it happened) marks a critical threshold.
    An epic line is crossed.
    Were the horror of jihadist elements gaining access and control of nuclear assets, or systems become a reality, – many circles on this earth would collate and welcome a preemptive nuclear strike against jihadists operations or assets that threaten the entire world. Pakistani’s need to understand this hard reality. Jihadist control of, or access to nukes would swiftly result in large swaths of Pakistan being reduced to glass, or a deadzone. Should Pakistan foolishly align with the jihadists in any way, for any reason, under any circumstance – the responses would be ferocious, and Pakistani’s will have hell to pay.


  7. EarlK says:

    I’m suprised it took as long as it did. Z is busy trying to consolidate power as much as possible, probably with a nod and a wink from Condi and George (the other happy couple). Given the economic condition of the country, it’s a bad time to be getting a new inept power grabbing leader.


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