The voice of a country: Guardian Editorial

Editorial: The voice of a country
The Guardian; February 20, 2008

For once, the voice of the people of Pakistan has been loud and clear. Pakistan 's ruling party was routed in Monday's election, and with it went the pretence that Pervez Musharraf has the support of his people. All the rigging in the world could not have prevented the resurgence of the two main opposition parties, the Pakistan Peoples party (PPP) of the late Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N). With about 20 of the 272 parliamentary seats undeclared, Mr Musharraf's last hope was to prevent the two opposition parties from gaining a two-thirds majority, which would leave him vulnerable to impeachment. But the writing was on the wall last night: parliamentary politics have returned with a vengeance, and for the first time in his career the president will have to deal with a parliament he can not easily buy off or control. This alone is a significant step on the path to restoring democratic rule in Pakistan .

The choice for the PPP, which has won at least 80 seats, is stark. There were signs last night that its caretaker leader - Bhutto's widower, Asif Ali Zardari - appreciated the importance of the party's next move. It could listen to American entreaties and form a pact with Mr Musharraf's discredited party, the PML-Q. This would form a coalition government that would keep the president in power. But such an arrangement would come at high political cost. It could split the PPP - a party largely held together by the collective memory of its fallen leader - and its support would haemorrhage.

The alternative is to keep faith with the popular vote and form a government of national unity with Mr Sharif. The once unpopular former prime minister has been boosted by this election. He campaigned on the issue of restoring the justices removed from office when a state of emergency was declared on November 3 last year. Mr Sharif wants the chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, currently under house arrest, to rule on the eligibility of Mr Musharraf's re-election as president. This would put the clock back to November 2 and undo not only the state of emergency but also Mr Musharraf's later attempts to set some of its darker elements in stone. Whatever the politicians do, lawyers will take to the streets in early March to make similar demands. Last night Mr Zardari said he would try to form a coalition with Mr Sharif. Mr Zardari said his party was not interested in any of those who were part of the last government.

A government of national unity would not last long, but it does not have to. Its function would be limited to carrying out a number of specific tasks: to restore an independent supreme court and election commission, to remove restrictions on the media, to see off Mr Musharraf and to set a date for new elections. There are doubts as to whether a coalition between two parties that detest each other would survive the ousting of their common foe. Mr Sharif, who found shelter in Saudi Arabia in his period of exile, would soon turn to the Islamist parties to which the PPP are opposed. Neither the PPP nor the PML-N would want to play second fiddle, and Mr Sharif is now a powerful man. He controls not only the second-largest party in the national government but also the regional parliament of the Punjab . Mr Sharif and Mr Musharraf have a long and bitter history of removing or attempting to remove each other from power. If a government of national unity were formed it would only be a matter of time before Mr Musharraf would be ousted from office.

The US senators Joseph Biden and John Kerry declared the election credible, but even these foreign-policy liberals have difficulty accepting the loss of Mr Musharraf, such is the importance Washington ascribes to his cooperation in the war against al-Qaida. Yet it is surely time for the US and Britain to plan for life after Pervez Musharraf, because that is the central message of this election.


Pakistani Dream said…
There is a good news and bad news,
The people's voice is heard. The bad news The Old Lutera's and Watam Farosh(The Opposite of watandost) are back in action. As said by Sattar Edhi" Tijooriyoon ke mun phir se khuljayeen gee" The treasury will be plundered once again.

Hopefully Zaedari Bhutto Sharif will ask The United Nation to cunduct an Inquiry not just the unfortunate death of Benezer but also the alleged corruption of past regimes including their own.
Pakistani Dream said…
Some interesting comment on the orignal posting


February 20, 2008 11:20 AM
Whatever government Pakistan will have , it will be another puppet regime . Maybe their intentions are good , but power will corrupt them as it did corrupt Musharraf as well as "saint Butto " .

The secrete services and the army run Pakistan with heavy US involvement (I wouldn't dare to call it support)

Nothing will change ...

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February 20, 2008 12:29 PM
No doubt the voice of the people may be clear, but to what end. In particular when 85% of them are illiterate, ignorant, villagers under the control of the feudal land lords, who have used, abused and exploited them since before Pakistan was created.

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February 20, 2008 3:38 PM
'A government of national unity would not last long, but it does not have to. Its function would be limited to carrying out a number of specific tasks: to restore an independent supreme court and election commission, to remove restrictions on the media, to see off Mr Musharraf and to set a date for new elections.'

A surefire recipe for disaster.

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Anonymous said…
Elections are not the answer. Pakistan today is like an AIDS patient very close to its demise. This band-aid of elections cant help the patient now. Nawaz Sharif, Asif Ali Zardari and Isfandar Yar Wali (grand-son of Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan - Frontier Gandhi); must make a policy decision ~ beyond governance. Pakistan must be divided into 4 parts and all the 4 Republics declared independent. Sooner or later, Sind, NWFP and Baluchistan will leave ~ cuz these 3 will not jell with Punjabistan.

Zardari is right. Power without lever would be a sham ! To have real power to chop off the ***** of ISI is needed. Pakistani Army must be taken out of the Political System. The system has to change.

Musharraf wants to continue to maintain the status-quo., because he needs to save his skin. Once removed, the truth about Kargil and Benazir Assasination would come to surface ~

Musharraf will leave office in dis-grace. He will be caught by the ear and escorted out. Wait and watch.

Zardari must NOT become Prime Minister. He must play the role of Sonia Gandhi and most importantly GUARD Sind's interests above anything and everything else. He must not be floored by the Punjabi's salams. Remember Zulfiqar and Benazir were assasinated in Rawalpindi. Remember that, Asif... So dont forget Sind... dont compromise an inch on Sindhi interests. As regards MQM they have to decide ... whether they want to be with Sind or play the role of a pimp for the Punjabi. Sind is close, Punjab is far. If MQM plays a dirty role, there will be genocide in Karachi. Either they have to die or return to India or Punjabistan.

Sorry, but i had to say these plain truths.
Pakistani Dream said…
With all due respect to The Anonymous posting. Sindh is oppressed by Sindhis like Zardari, Maqtoom Amin Fahim Qibla, Pir Sahib Pagara Qibla, The Bhutto family on the Top. Its easy to blame evey thing on Punjabis. Just go to any goth in Sindh at any see the conditions of the poor Haris(Sindhi Share Croppers). The conditions are quite comparable to the newly freed Slaves in Amnerica right after the abloshment of slavery.
This was well documented on the BBC world news and views by Owen Bennet Jones. Unfortunatly and Shamefully BBC Urdu Service does not have simple courage to air that kind of coverage.
In short Sindhi was opressed by their own Waderas and Pirs in past and in future as long as the luteras and waderas exists. The escape gout will always be Punjab.

Sindhi Punjabi form Karachi.

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