Emad's Blog (Under Renovation)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Plot Thickens... Or Unfolds?

As the latest poll results come in and a large majority of seats are finalized, it has become quite clear that the opposition forces of PML-N and PPP have swept into a massive lead. The pro-Musharraf ranks are either disappearing from the public scene or loudly proclaiming how Musharraf's delivered on his promise for free and fair elections. I'll hold the analysis back for a little bit as I summarize some key results -

Nationally, PPP leads but not with enough majority to go by without forming a coalition. Provincially, the case is ditto for PML-N. PPP is going to form government in Sindh, ANP in NWFP and PML-Q in Balochistan (which will play a factor when electing the Senate), the way it looks now. In all provinces, PPP has the leading or the second position. There has been a large amount of winners that are independent and non-partisan. They are likely to play a large factor in coalition creation. Most women that were standing for National Assembly seats have also won. Is that going to be a factor?

Over the next few weeks, the future of the country will lie in a balance as will President Musharraf's. Behind closed doors, there will be making and breaking of many coalitions and this process is unlikely to help the stability of the country. The final outcome of talks between PPP and PML-N will of course be a driving factor to what happens next. In the leadup to the elections, the two parties have supported each other and have adjusted their candidates so as to beat the incumbent government comprehensively and not divide each other's vote bank. Will this, however, lead to a coalition between parties that still hold historic grudges? Perhaps the fact that Benazir and Nawaz Sharif are not directly running for the big position of PM would help soften the hardline position that they usually take against each other.

However, these parties do differ on certain very important issues: restoration of the Judiciary and the Chief Justice, the restoration of the constitution October 1998, and their position on working with Musharraf. So far, PML-N has been pro-restoration of judiciary and pro-removal of Musharraf. PPP has not taken any positions on the issue of judiciary and have hinted and their willingness to work with Musharraf as president. Perhaps PPP will align with some pro-Mush forces to get an edge enough to form government. Lots of question marks..

In my opinion stability and any positive change will only come through agreement of the two parties. Should this happen, Musharraf could be packing his bags. But an equally likely scenario is a parliament that with the big parties fighting with each other and making any functioning government a distant reality. Of course, Musharraf can sit back and enjoy should that happen.

Furthermore, it will be interesting how Mr President reacts to this state of affairs. Some hint at his resigning as a proactive approach gaining an element of popularity for staying true to his word and respecting the vote of the people of Pakistan. So far, he's been continuously talking about his willingness to work with whoever forms government. Will he still be able to hand over the power he's exercised for the largest part of the last decade in this manner?

Everyone including observers from 13 countries have been awed by the relatively peaceful environment this has all occurred in. Has it been heightened security or the willingness of extremists to see the incumbents go, that has resulted in this? What will become of these radical forces? Are people shunning them away or are they waiting it out for round 2? Do they think that the government will ease on The War if Musharraf's gone or have they too conceded defeat? In any case, he's a lame duck unless the big parties decide to fight it out against each other, and he would just sit back and use the infamous 58/2b article in the constitution allowing him to dissolve parliament. Ironically, if they cooperate, they can get rid of this article itself.

What about the issue of rigging? While irregularities in voting (Check out Teeth Maestro and the SAC site) have been seen across the country, no major incidents of mass rigging are apparent. Has it been the media, the civil society and the international observers that have prevented the establishment from foul play? Could it be that the new COAS is making a clear statement of staying out of politics and ensuring his intelligence agencies do the same for now? Have the US and other international players given up on Musharraf as his popularity and effectiveness wains or is there more to it than the eye can see?

The reality is that this election is being won through the sympathy vote and the anti-govt vote. That being the case, the positive election is that no differing manifestos will act as a major obstacle to cooperation, but it does leave the future stance and agenda of the formed government out to anyone's interpretation.

As a friend of mine put it, 'The cycle [PML-Q] gets hit by the proverbial suicide bomber of Paki democracy'! Let's just hope it's not really a 'suicide' bomber but a remotely detonating mine!

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3 Comments:

  • Here's what I predict: Parliament tries to muster up some balls to pass through some anti-Musharraf motions like judiciary restoration and related matters. He would have none of that shit, and imposes a state of emergency and dissolves the assemblies. Or asks his friend Kayani to take over. Life is good and normal again :)

    By Blogger Sohaib, At 20/2/08 10:36  

  • hmm.. that was a lot for 1-day posts :)
    Always interesting read, thanks for this much info as i normally only read on CNN or BBC over work, hehe.

    And i heard more and more people say we're pretty much alike, politically ~ hmmm...

    By Blogger Pui, At 20/2/08 14:08  

  • @Sohaib: Man, I get the feeling that the Kayani friendship's on the rocks right now. And I think these guys want to create a 2/3 scene and get rid of 58(2)b!

    @Pui: Thanks for reading! :) We are politically alike you say? Hmm.. This I want to hear more about!

    By Blogger Emad, At 20/2/08 15:48  

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