Pakistan: Naming a prime minister

March 8, 2008

Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party has delayed naming its prime ministerial candidate, setting off Internet chatter about a power struggle in the party with backroom machinations stretching from Washington to Islamabad. And not far behind is the fear that a prolonged political vaccum at the top will embolden even more lethal militant strikes than the ones witnessed over the past week or so.  PPP vice chairman Makhdoom Amin Fahim remains the frontrunner as he has from the time Bhutto was assassinated, the Pakistani Spectator says, but her husband and successor Asif Zardari had other ideas and wanted the issue to be debated further and that had opened the way for more pulls and pressures. One comment on its blog complained: “Will the voices of the people count or will the American and Saudis control this nation’s future ?”

 Poster of Benazir Bhutto

B.Raman, a former chief of Indian intelligence agency RAW, writes in South Asia Analysis Group that the successful election may yet turn out to be a false dawn, arguing that Zardari’s attempt to pass over Fahim partly because he was a fellow-Sindhi, and instead pick someone from politically crucial Punjab, might inflame party workers in the home base and widen the provincial divides never far from the surface.    

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