The 21st Century Phenomenon



Just three months after a democratic government was formed in Pakistan the question whether Pakistan is functioning as a democracy remains opened.

Under USA pressure general elections took place in Pakistan on 02/18/2008.  The two opposition parties – Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N (PAKISTAN Muslim League –N) party and the deceased Benazir Bhutto’s PPP (PAKISTAN People’s Party) party have, together, a stable majority in the Parliament but not the majority of 2/3 sufficient to by pass a presidential possible veto on any decision.

Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif were bitter rivals in the 1990s when they alternated as prime ministers. Both were accused of corruption and served two terms over a period of a decade that ended when then army chief Gen’ Pervez Musharraf ousted Nawaz Sharif in a 1999 coup.

Nawaz Sharif is an Islamist seeking to reach out to radical Islamist leaders in Pakistan in order to agree on a new national charter to restore national unity and solve the internal blood shed. Benazir Bhutto, when she was still alive, vowed to deepen Western style democracy in Pakistan’s society, to step up  the war on Muslim extremists and radicalization of the country and even said she will allow, under some conditions, American troops to operate inside Pakistan in the general context of cooperation in the war on terror.

The little common ground of the two adversary parties, PML-N and PPP, is the common objection to President Pervez Musharraf and it is far from enough to run the country together, not to mention that the Pakistani army and security establishment supports, fully, Pervez Musharraf. (See – PAKISTAN ON HOLD )

Indeed few steps were done to stabilize the country, the level of violence and terror attacks was reduced, sharply. A sense of restoring law and order gave hope to ordinary Pakistanis. The elected government managed to work with the President without unnecessary conflicts and a cease fire deal is negotiated with pro Taliban tribes in North West Pakistan.

President Pervez Musharraf dismissed, during 2007, about 60 judges including the Chief Pakistani judge Iftikhar Chaudhry, who was dismissed, on 03/09/2007, and was put in home arrest until 05/05/2007.

All the judges were released in the first day when the new government was sworn in in early 03/2008 but the question if the judges in high ranks are able to judge fairly in questions related to Pervez Musharraf’s regime remains open. Many of the dismissed judges criticized sharply and publicly Perves Musharaf recently and were engaged in political activity to topple his regime. Nawaz Sharif wants them back in office now so the Judicial system will turn to be an anti Musharraf establishment, while Asif Ali Zardari, Benazir Bhutto’s widower, who has been leading her party since her assassination, on 12/27/2007, as a dynasty estate, wants to keep the judicial system out of the political game.     

Yesterday, Monday 05/12/2008, Nawaz Sharif said his PML-N is quitting the government because of differences over the reinstatement of judges sacked by President Musharraf.

This announcement is splitting the anti Musharraf coalition in his benefit but raises also question if the Pakistani political system and the politicians are mature enough to really transform Pakistan to a democratic state. It seems that Pakistan is still a long way from being a functioning democracy.


* Related topics – 
04/2008 -RIGHTEOuSNESS  
02/2008 -PAKISTAN’S  POLL  


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