Pakistan coalition split, not yet estranged

May 14, 2008

The split in Pakistan’s ruling coalition could provide a lifeline for President Pervez Musharraf that the Pakistani people believed they’d yanked away in an election three months ago. 

After the Feb.18 poll demolished Musharraf’s parliamentary support, predictions abounded that the politically isolated U.S. ally would be forced from power within weeks or months. Politicians had even talked about impeaching him.   

p11.jpg But first, they decided, the priority was to reinstate the judges Musharraf dismissed during a brief period of emergency
rule late last year in order to stop the Supreme Court ruling unlawful his re-election by the outgoing parliament. 

Critics poured scorn on Musharraf for not taking the honourable way out by resigning, having delivered an election
that was fairer and less violent than feared.  

Instead, Musharraf sat tight, and the calculation made by the president’s camp could well be working out. Musharraf’s aides always reckoned an alliance between the Pakistan People’s Party of assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and the party led by her old rival Nawaz Sharif would be a short-lived affair.   

They felt the PPP, now under the leadership of Bhutto’s widower Asif Ali Zardari, had more to fear from Sharif’s resurgent Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), than it did from Musharraf. 

Sharif went some way to fulfilling these predictions by pulling the PML-N’s nine ministers out of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s 24-member cabinet, because the PPP failed to meet a deadline on Monday to restore the judges.  

For now the PPP-led government is leaving the ministries vacant, apparently in the hope that Zardari can talk Sharif round, or a compromise is reached over how and when to reinstate the judges.  

The PPP wants to link the reinstatement of the judges to constitutional amendments that could also include steps to strip Musharraf of presidential rights to dismiss a government.  

So there is a common sense of purpose, even if the coalition partners disagree on strategy, and the PML-N has promised carry on supporting Gilani’s government without being part of it.  

Yet, so long as the judges issue remains unresolved the government will be at risk of the PML-N pulling out entirely. 

If a lawyers’ movement, that championed the judiciary in its face-off with Musharraf last year, resumes street agitation,  Sharif must choose whether to back the lawyers and risk destabilising Gilani’s government further.  

The Pakistani people, as they showed in the February poll, had wished for better things from the civilian politicians after nine years under a military-backed government.  

A growing sense of disillusion hasn’t been helped by the United States energetic diplomacy in Pakistan.  Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher met Zardari and  Sharif in London last week as negotiations between the coalition  partners were about to fail.  

There was already a suspicion that Washington is somehow engineering Pakistan’s future by propping up Musharraf, and wants Sharif kept out of government because of doubts about his commitment to the war on terrorism.   

Western governments had encouraged Bhutto to work with Musharraf last year, though it was unclear what Bhutto would have ulitmately done if she’d lived.  

Many Pakistanis now suspect that Zardari could be planning to turn to Musharraf’s camp for support after shedding Sharif, but it is premature to jump to conclusions.  

The best that can be said of the split in the coalition at the moment, is that it has been relatively amicable, with the PML-N continuing to support the government.  

Both sides have refrained from getting into a blame game, and have instead issued statements expressing understanding for the position taken by the other.  

Pakistanis fear however this is the beginning of the end of the coalition and their dream team will give way to one that has little to do with last February’s election.  


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The larger question here is whether the people are ready to accept subvesion of the constition by a military dictator. Previosuly, such actions were repeatedly indemnified by courts and parliaments in retrospect but now at least the question has divided both the institutions with most of the judges and political leaders refusing to grant legitimacy to the actions taken in vilation of the constitution. A call by the lawyers to revive the movement for supremacy of the constitution is likely to gain mass support because other serious problems faced by the people have also not been solved. The thousands of people protesting on the roads had given courage to judges to take a principles stand last year and they may do the same for members of the parliament this year.

Posted by haroon | Report as abusive

[…] people of Pakistan question the role of Washington in their internal politics. Reuters reports that there is a “growing sense of disillusion hasn’t been helped by the United States […]

Posted by Welcome | Project on Middle East Democracy | Report as abusive

it is really shameful for pakistani people to support nawaz sharif. (1) he is the man who wanted to become ameerul momineen.(2) he is the man who attacked on judiciary by himself under his first tenure. (3) he was the man who tried to hand over his own country’s COAS to india.(4) he is the man who looted money of his own country men in the name of self-reliance scheme. (5) he is the person who committed money laundering while he was handed over to Saudi Arabia under the deal. (6) in any of above mentioned cases, he never knocked judiciary’s door may allah put his curse and wrath upon nawaz sharif. Amen.

Posted by mansoor tirmizi | Report as abusive

Pakistanis can never be at peace and stability as long as there is a country called Pakistan.

It is now clear as the sun that the so called democracy in Pakistan is alwyas a show for the galleries and whenever the generals feel the heat from outside.

There can never be democracy in Pakistan, becuase it is regarded as the worst enemy of Pakistan. In democracy people would ask for their rights, which could mean the end of the colonial entity of Pakistan.

The Paki-apologists were quick to assume that democracy had “returned” to Pakistan, where no democracy has existed in its 60 years of bloody history.

Neither the new govt or the next one can solve Pakistan’s problems, only dissolving Pakistan will bring peace to South Asia and the world.

Neither a military regime nor a civilian one can save Pakistan, which is doomed by history and geography.

Posted by Kabura | Report as abusive

I totally agree with the comments posted by Posted by mansoor tirmizi and would add here if we remain electing the politicians of same specific families or groups, the sitution of Pakistan and its citizen will never improve. There is a proverb that man learn from experience, but are not learing any leason from the performance of our so called religious and political leaders and keep them elected every time. Around 60% of our registerred voters do not cast their votes. As per history the average casted votes in each election is around 30-40% which is shared by around 40-50 political parties and dozens independants, there is riging also, there are votes which are cast according to the will and wishes of Jagirdar, Waderas, Landlors, Bradri’s elders and many other types of compulsions. Mostly the people are illiterates and sometimes even they don’t know which candidate belongs to which party. They are asked to put the stam on election symbol. There is no prerequisite for the candidate to contest election. The condition of bachlor introduced by Mushraf has also been removed. So everyone who is having no qualification and no job can be a politician. How we can expect democracy in our country in such scenario which is direly need to be changed? The same situation will prevail unless and until the situation is changed and basic requisits are met for it which are higher literacy rate, independance from fudal system and all compulsions, reduction in number of political parties, ethical code of conducts for politicians and leaders; across the board accountability, rules of law and constituion, freedom of media, but impartial and nuetral. Above all there must be sense of responsbility and national sprit in each and every citizen while casting their votes. Otherwise, we have no right to blame anyone except to ourselves.

Posted by Mumtaz Haider | Report as abusive

Pakistan and democracy are pole asunders . A country that has largely been governed by the army and it’s existence as a democratic nation is always blemished by the lack of democratic credentials . Look at the pre-mature termination of the bonhomie between Nawaz and Zardari as the coalition is delicately perched on the edge of the seat waiting to go into pieces . From the day one the ideologically conflicting coalition formed under the duress of a political compromise to oust Perwaiz Musharraf though Zardari was never convinced of the two major issues , the re-instatement of the deposed judiciary and the acceptibility of the General . Nawaz was opposed to both as he wanted the deposed judiciary restored and the General removed whereas Zardari knew that the reinstatement of the judiciary would be dangerous for him given the pending cases and sharif knew that exactly and therefore the coalition is verging on the collapse on the most expected lines .Democracy in pakistan remains a sham . A moment of glitter is not rainbow .

Posted by Afroz Ashrafi | Report as abusive

The media’s wishful thinking was behind the unreasonably high hopes raised about the new democratic government.But Asif Zardari has his own agenda.Perhaps it is things like that millions of dollars sitting in a Swiss bak that prompted him to be soft on Musharraf.Nawaz Sharif however has a single point plan right from the start.It is to visit vengence and humiliate Musharraf for deposing and exilinf him after the coup.And the lawyers and judges have had thei own game.That is how the great dream of a democratic revival in Pakistan is now unravelling unceremoniuosly.No wonder Musharraf is having the last laugh.

Posted by Rekha Vinjamuri | Report as abusive

Dear Sir/Madam,

They failed to deliver solution of the burning issues? Now, Do we realise that the Change of Socio-political system is inevitable for the prosperity of the people and Pakistan.

Pakistan is passing through a crucial time and is in imminent need for system, instead of change of faces, let the people of Pakistan be the real stake holder and empower them to decide the fate of their generation.

Since the creation of Pakistan the Pakistani people are left at distant from the corridor of power so that the ruling elite can do what they wanted to do in favour of their interest, leaving the Pakistani people at the mercy of circumstances. As this policy is denial of right of Pakistani people to rule their country according to their aspiration and desire to built this country, which can provide equal opportunity to all without any discrimination for the establishment of welfare society. Only the society base on tolerance, equality and justice can be the real guarantee for the prosperous and strong Pakistan there for your intent is invited to the crucial movement which could be the point of distraction or disaster.

No one has dare to trust the Pakistani people and involved them in to the day to day decision making process with intention to develop a sense of participation in to the decision making process affecting the future of their country and their generation at large and share the real benefit of democracy, but, due to the conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits, deprivation and opinions of the masses being an important element within so-called democratic society, they manipulate this elements of society to constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.
Sometimes the effect on the public mind is created by a professional propagandist, sometimes by an amateur deputed for the situation. The important thing is that it is universal and continuous; and in its sum total is regimenting the public mind every bit by bit, to keep the masses away from the corridor of power. The systematic study of mass psychology, revealed to the ruling elite the potentialities of (indiscernible groups within the society) manipulation of the society by actuate man, It is essential moments for all patriotic and intellectual to sincerely think and understand the mechanism and motives of the ruling elite, the way they practice, propagate has provided a clue that it is possible, at least up to a certain extent and within certain limits that, we can introduce the alternate socio-political system to replace the present undemocratic system.

Because ,It will be difficult to expect any thing positive at this stage because, return of political leadership of PPP and PML(N) to Pakistan was subject to condition, political coalition cannot take creative action or dare to change policy in the national interest till general Musharaf is as president, current government need to take patriotic political decision in the interest of Pakistan without fear of American anger or their commitment and support during mediation process with USA, but the national interest has again been ignored for the sake of power and external interest, but will they dare to do that?

The time is rapidly changing; the voice of the people especially wise and snooty idea could not be stopped any more. The honest struggle of the people, regarding the Change of socio-political system will affect the heart and mind of the people, and once Pakistani made up their mind for the change of system,we will succeed in creating public opinion.

We have already lost the major part of Pakistan in 1971 simply to save the centralized sole power to exploit this country by the ruling elite they let the country break in part then allowing the masses to rule this country democratically. In the present circumstances we are again dragging our sovereignty at stake for the external interest in the name of national interest, instead of our interest i.e. the interest of Pakistani people at large.

The question of the time is,do we really deserve further destruction of our country ? or do we need the stable Pakistan, of our dream ?. Now the ball is in the courts of all patriotic people, intellectual ,women,youth ,laborer, farmers, media and those believed in the might, peace and prosperity of Pakistan.

The only way out of these crucial circumstances is to empower the common Pakistani at grass route level i.e. the change of system. This change is inevitable for the prosperous Pakistan .As a citizen of this country I have suggested an alternate socio-political system to empower the masses at grass route level for rapid industrial and agriculture development with transparency and accountability in the system. Along with basic guarantees for the creation of welfare state, where in public representative and institution shall be answerable and accountable to the masses. As a person I cannot turn the table but together we can.

Kindly acknowledge with your comments.

Kindly see web site…
Ilyas khan Baloch
Organizer Islamic Democratic Party

Posted by Ilyas khan Baloch | Report as abusive