Protecting Democracy in Pakistan
Daily Times, March 28, 2009
Political leaders need to recognise that their primacy in the political domain depends on their ability to deal with their differences in the democratic framework of dialogue and accommodation. If they project their demands in ‘either-or’ terms and use street agitation to pursue their agenda, they will lose the initiative
The first year of democratic governance in Pakistan has exposed, once again, political incoherence and the two main parties’ poor capacity for crisis management. Other leaders found it difficult to convince the PPP and the PMLN to moderate their disposition towards each other.
Pakistan returned from the brink of a major political breakdown on March 16, 2009 mainly because of factors external to a normal functioning democracy. The Pakistan Army played the key role in defusing tensions by encouraging the PPP-led federal government to reinstate Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and other deposed judges. This amicable resolution of the problem was supported by “friendly advice” from the United States and other allies.
The top brass of the army has shown that it can bring into play its institutional clout to moderate the political feuds and influence the direction of politics. If anything, the army chief, General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, has demonstrated that the army is a formidable political player even when not in power.
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