Pakistan election – what next for Musharraf?

February 19, 2008

President Musharraf votes/Reuters TVPresident Pervez Musharraf could hardly have found a better way of convincing the world about his commitment to holding a “free and fair” election in Pakistan – by letting his own allies in the Pakistan Muslim League (Q) be defeated at the polls.

Commentators are already trying to work out whether the opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)  of the late Benazir Bhutto and the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif  – ousted by Musharraf in a 1999 coup — can muster enough seats between them in parliament for the two-thirds majority needed to impeach him.

Yet if the early results, which indicate a strong showing for the opposition and a trouncing of Musharraf’s allies, are confirmed, I am left with an unanswered question. Is the election the beginning of the end for the retired army general? Or was it on his part an act of daring born out of his days as an army commando?

Did he gamble that even if his own supporters lost, he would still gain by proving his commitment to a free election to the international community? And in that gamble, was there an assumption that the opposition parties would squabble too much amongst themselves to form an effective coalition against him? It would be an interesting question to ask him.

In the coming days and weeks, it will become clearer whether that gamble was made. And if it paid off.

In my previous entry, and in the comments section, you can find links to some of the blogs and websites which are tracking the election results. If I have missed good sites, let me know. Or have your say here, by posting a comment.

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