Pakistan’s coalition of the unwilling

February 20, 2008

Asif Ali Zardari/Goran TomasevicThanks to readers for pointing out some great online debates on who is going to form the next government in Pakistan. 

Five Rupees predicts confidently that the two frontrunners in Monday’s election – the PPP of the late Benazir Bhutto and the PML-N of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif — will be unable to bury their traditional rivalry to form an alliance. It then goes on to forecast that the PPP led by Bhutto’s widower Asif Ali Zardari will join forces with the PML-Q, the defeated party allied to President Pervez Musharraf.

Teeth Maestro asks anxiously whether  the Americans are encouraging a deal between the PPP and the PML-Q to keep Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N in opposition.  On the same theme, the Asia Times Online says the Americans would like the PPP to form a coalition with other smaller parties, again without the PML-N.

At the heart of the matter is Sharif’s insistence that judges sacked by Musharraf when he imposed a state of emergency in November be restored to office. That would add to pressure on Musharraf to quit, depriving the Americans of their main ally in the battle against al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Reuters has done a factbox on the possible post-election scenarios in Pakistan. But what do you think? Is Five Rupees right with its long-shot prediction of an alliance between the PPP and the PML-Q? Have people reason to worry about American interference to protect Musharraf from Sharif? All I can say with certainty is that Pakistan is headed for a coalition of the unwilling.

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