Sunday, February 17, 2008

Election Day in Pakistan

Today Pakistanis will go to the polls in perhaps one of the most important and fraught elections in the benighted nation's history (with the possible exception of the 1970 elections which eventually resulted in the creation of Bangladesh). The atmosphere is filled with uncertainty about the fairness of the election process. Benazir Bhutto's assasination has cast a pall over these elections. The threat of violence is omnipresent and large numbers of people are suffering unprecedented economic difficulties driven by wheat and energy shortages. If the elections are crudely rigged, then these elections could very well be the harbinger of significant violence and worsening political instability.

As apprehensive as I am about the outcome of the elections, there is also a small chance that this could be a first step toward stability. If the elections are broadly free and fair and the two large opposition parties accept the poll results, then chances are that it could lead to Musharraf's exit from the scene and the formation of a national government that will have the chance to start putting the pieces back together. Even with a national government, however, there are a lot of difficulties ahead and the cleaning up of the Musharrafian mess will take feats of statesmanship that the opposition leaders have not previously demonstrated. Tackling the immediate issues of judicial independence, media freedom, provincial harmony and economic relief while evolving an equitable sharing of power without vengeful targeting of opponents is a tall order. All this does not even mention the control of the rapidly speading menace of terrorism that will require political compromise, public mobilization and some deft distancing from Washington.

Here is to hoping that February 18th, 2008 brings some positive change for the suffering and burdened citizens of the Pakistani state.

1 comment:

Raza Rumi said...

A very good post - your conclusion is most pertinent!
Let's hope thing change and for the better
cheers, R