The shifting sands of Pakistani politics

May 5, 2009

Some readers have suggested that Pakistan’s politicians close ranks to beat back the Taliban advance, and that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s party re-unites with the ruling coalition as a first step.

It is an idea that seems to be gaining traction, going by a spate of media reports  The Financial Times said that Sharif could consider joining a unity coalition led by President Asif Ali Zardari, citing a senior member of Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (Muslim).

It quoted the politician as saying that Sharif wanted to reassure foreign powers, especially the United States, he had no intention of trying to de-stabilise the year-old  government.

The reports come just before President Barack Obama sits down with Zardari and Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Washington for security talks and at a time when concern over Pakistan’s stability in the face of the Taliban gains has reached fever-pitch.

Pakistan’s Dawn said key western capitals seemed to be pushing, or at least, hoping for a reunion between Zardari’s Pakistan People’s Party and Sharif’s group. The two could form a formidable alliance and send a powerful signal of a united face against the militancy, it said. The PML (N)’s popularity in the key province of Punjab – where many expect the next wave of militancy – and Sharif’s right-of-centre conservative credentials could help bolster the PPP in its battle with the militants.

But is Sharif going to take the bait? Dawn says it perhaps makes more sense politically for his party to watch from the sidelines while the Zardari government struggles with the militancy, deploys the military option and further loses public support.

And what of Sharif? Even if western capitals have discovered virtues in him in this hour of Pakistatan’s battle with militants, can the former premier long accused of sympathies for hardline Islamist groups really be seen as the choice of the West? Wouldn’ t that be the kiss of death even before he started out in the prevailing climate in Pakistan?

“Once in a position of authority or high office, Nawaz is certain to disavow U.S. support because identification with the U.S. in the present political climate is tantamount to political, and possibly actual, suicide for a Pakistani politician,” argues Nightwatch, an intelligence analysis website.


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demonstrating a show of strength and conviction, by forging a national united front, is the only way to convince the american administration to write fat checks. Once the milking of the cow is resumed it will be business as usual. with the ongoing mayhem engulfing the country, the end result will be same. No frontal attack on extremists is going to take place.Us and other donors will not realise this until after a few months later.Sad to be pessimistic.

Posted by Azad | Report as abusive

Inetesting that while the Kelly-Lugar bill making its way through legislative corrdors in the US, requires the Obama administration to certify Pakistani forces are making progress in combating al Qaeda and the Taliban and not interfering with civilian rule in order for aid to continue, but the adiministration is opposed to these strings. Sounds like US policy of old. Any aid to a corrupt govt and military without strings attached will result in minimal progress.

Posted by Nadir | Report as abusive

The West has but one choice.In future,when the present Pakistani Goverment fails and loses the people’s backing.Assist in anyway possible a strong military leadership. The people will follow for the simple reason that the other choice will be the Taliban or fundamentalist type Goverment. A coup-d-tat, with suspensions of civil liberties will rid this nation of many fanatics. No questions, no were are they now type of goverment.

Posted by Mike Rodriguez | Report as abusive

Who says there is no feudal in Pakistan. Rural Pakistan is control by the feudal, even in urban areas one can see the people who work hard and other exploit the situation and make money in the name of religion or family lands. Our ruling class of so called politicians is from feudal and then industrialist follow them for power in authoritarian society. Law making body-the Majlish Shora, parliament -the senate , national assembly, provincial assembly and district council , every where the members are feudal, indusrialists, drug barons and /or Rtd. corrupt police officers with few Rtd, army officers as well. The writer of the this article and a leading scholar Dr. Aisha Siddiqa is also from feudal class with extra ordinary intelligence. I agree with some people that one should do some thing instead of suggestions. I have done some thing by leaving my home land as it’s hopeless there; unless there is rule of law not the law of ruler and we should follow the rule accordingly. Very simple law of inheritance can change our country’s future. What ever law we follow, Islamic or British- Muslim personal law, the property should be divided accordingly after the death of a person in a reasonable time but what happen in our country- this is the basic problem. If division of property is done by the law, there will be no feudal and if there is no feudal: the country will flourish. See rest of the world specially the developed world where majority people from under developed countries want to come. All the best for the rest of the people all over the world. KHWAJA AFTAB ALI, Advocate & I.P. Attorney in Pakistan, presently living in Florida, USA

Posted by Khwaja Aftab Ali, Florida, USA | Report as abusive