The Crisis of Governance in Pakistan
The News, February 05, 2009
Dr Maleeha Lodhi
Few elected governments have so rapidly lost public confidence as the coalition led by President Asif Zardari. A series of opinion polls indicate this. Eighty percent of Pakistanis gave a negative rating to the government on its performance according to a survey by the US-based International Republican Institute. After eleven months in power the government confronts growing public doubts about its ability to lead and govern.
Electorates today tend to be impatient. Governance is more challenging in the age of the 24/7 news cycle because the instant information era creates a constant sense of urgency, heightens expectations and magnifies weaknesses.
But this does not account for why the government has had such a remarkably short honeymoon. For that one has to turn to the gap between expectations generated by the February 2008 elections and actual performance, a gap that has been growing.
A profound sense of foreboding prevails, especially in the face of the looming showdown between President Zardari's PPP administration and the lawyers' movement supported by Mian Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League. This confrontation has been driven by a string of unkept promises and unresolved issues. The two former political allies seem set on a collision course whose outcome appears uncertain.
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