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Welcome democracy in Pakistan


RANJIT BHUSHAN | New Delhi, May 11, 2013 12:23
Tags : Pakistan | Pakistan polls | National Assembly | Democracy | Nawaz Sharif | Imran Khan |

As Pakistan goes to polls, it should be considered a happy augury in that country’s chequered history as a civilian government for the first time will complete a full five-year tenure in power, paving the way for a constitutional transfer of guards once the results of elections are known.
To be sure, the poll campaign has been a low key affair conducted under the shadow of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan’s guns, but that has not put down the spirit of electioneering down. Indian journalists covering the polls in Pakistan report of the widespread enthusiasm on the streets, particularly at rallies addressed by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and cricketing legend Imran Khan and there is nothing to suggest that the common man in Pakistan is ill-disposed towards democratic processes – notwithstanding all talk of militants coming to dominate the country’s political landscape.
Let’s face it: India and Pakistan have never gone to war with a civilian government in Islamabad and it is in India’s interest that civilian institutions acquire a standing and stability of their own in its vastly troubled neigbourhood. In 1965, it was General Ayub Khan whose notions of how Hindus can be tackled – a hard shot at the right place and the right time - that took Pakistan down the road of an unsuccessful military campaign. In 1971, again it was Messrs Yahya Khan and his colonels who were involved in Pakistan’s disastrous Bangladesh campaign which ended in defeat and ignominy. During the Kargil war, even though there was civilian Nawaz Sharif at the helm of affairs, a coterie of generals led by Army Chief Pervez Musharraf called the shots and ultimately led his country into a war for which he continues to get pilloried in Pakistan and the world outside.
Whatever else may be said about Asif Ali Zardari, his five-year tenure has marked a definite improvement of relations between India and Pakistan, warts and all that notwithstanding. Nawaz Sharif too is a long-standing votary of peace with India. So all told, a democratic government, when it gets into place in Islamabad, is in New Delhi’s interest.
Analysts in Pakistan have commented upon how mainline political parties in the country will have to take the help of militant-backed outfits to put a government in place but the logic of democracy is such that even militants, once elected to office by popular mandate, may be forced to moderate positions. We have certainly seen shades of it in India itself. A democratic government, above all, will give the country’s peace constituents a big leg up. Here is hoping that all goes well.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in the blog are that of the author and does not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of The Sunday Indian)
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017