Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Pakistan's Cloudy Political Future: A Primer

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  • Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League (N) withdrew its support from the ruling coalition government (Aug 25)
  • President Pervez Musharraf resigned on Aug 18, ending his nine-year reign that thrived with US backing, but succumbed under impeachment threat following the first free and fair elections he conducted after overthrowing Nawaz Sharif in a coup in 1999
  • Musharraf has been replaced by Mohammedmian Soomro, chairman of the Senate and a Musharraf loyalist, pending a parliamentary vote to choose a new head of state within 30 days
  • Presidential election is set for 6 Sept.Asif Ali Zardari appears to be the front-runner to become Pakistan's next president
  • His resignation raises new fears that Pakistan will exacerbate tensions with its neighbors(India and Afghanistan) and increase terrorism (WSJ)
  • GI : The resignation may be met with short-term optimism as the civilian government promises to restore full democracy to the country. However, this is likely to be short-lived as the economy is likely to deteriorate further and the security situation will worsen as the ruling coalition remains in policy deadlock
  • Musharraf has left behind a fragile economy that is dealing with inflation, twin deficits, external debt; currency has also taken a hit; the country is also facing severe oil and power shortages, foreign investment in the past year has already declined from $1.76 bn to $62.2 mn on political risks
  • There are intense concerns in Washington that Mr. Musharraf’s departure could open a new era of instability in the nuclear-armed country of 165 million people, as the fragile coalition jockeys for its share of power
  • The National Assembly voted 264-42 confirming Mr. Gilani of the PPP as the nation's new prime minister.Nawaz Sharif PML(N) and Asif Ali Zardari, widower of Benazir Bhutto (PPP) agreed to form a coalition government.Opposition parties Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) won 87 and 67 of the 242 seats; pro-Musharraf ruling Pakistan Muslim League PML (Q) party won only 40 seats in Feb '08 parliamentary elections.
  • WSJ : The PML(N) is tilted toward more fundamentalist Islamic elements and demand the immediate reinstatement of judges while The PPP has a more secular, pro-western approach and has kept its position vague on the issue of restoring the judges however both parties have agreed on a common agenda.
  • Pakistan's generals are gradually distancing themselves from Musharraf; lawyers boycott courts to pressure Musharraf to reinstate senior judges he sacked under emergency rule
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