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Yet another false start in pakistan?


The fledgling democratic movement in pakistan has got a jolt, says shahid hussain
TSI | Issue Dated: May 25, 2008
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Yet another false start in pakistan? The decision of Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) leader Mian Nawaz Sharif to pull out from the Federal cabinet because of the delay in the reinstatement of deposed judges is likely to strengthen Pakistan establishment's right-wing politics in Pakistan.

"The decision to part ways from the Cabinet cannot be described as a total breakaway as the two parties (Pakistan Peoples Party and PML-N) are there in a coalition in the Punjab," Dr Syed Jaffar Ahmed, Chairman, Pakistan Study Centre, University of Karachi, told TSI.

"But if this pattern continues, it will be a severe setback for the prospects of democracy and will give confidence to the Establishment which was confronted with a severe crisis: One is compelled to say that in its hour of difficulty, PPP's leadership has come to the rescue of the Establishment," he added.

Sharif, twice-elected Prime Minister of Pakistan, is a right-winger and seen by the Bush administration with suspicion, especially on issues such as the so -called 'War on Terror' and nuclear proliferation. Contrary to the perception of PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari, Sharif has been according top priority to the re-instatement of deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry whereas many in Pakistan view that the most pressing problem faced by the populace in Pakistan is food inflation that is almost 20% and is likely to rise in future.

Though Sharif has stated that he "will not become part of any conspiracy to strengthen dictatorship and not become a tool in the hands of any person," his decision to quit the fragile coalition must have brought a sigh of relief to President General Pervez Musharraf.

After the assassination of PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto and the General Elections this year, there are two main trends in contemporary Pakistan politics. One, the politics pursued by Pakistani establishment, backed externally by the US and at home by pro-Musharraf Pakistan Muslim League (Q) and the Muthahhida Qaumi Movement (MQM). Second, a movement led by the deposed judges, lawyers, civil society, anti-Establishment political parties such as the PPP, PML(N), Awami National Party (ANP) and Baloch nationalist parties. Many believe that Sharif is adamant to teach a lesson to Musharraf who overthrew his democratically-elected government in 1999 and forced him to go in exile in Saudi Arabia. They also believe that Zardari is under pressure from the Establishment due to the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) that continues to threaten him.

According to other experts like Tauseef Ahmed Khan, leading academic and political analyst, "after the assassination of Bhutto, Zardari has embraced people who had nothing to do with the PPP. Zardari's close associate, Rahman Malik is a former director of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), another associate Hussain Haqqani is a former student leader of right-wing Islami Jamiat-e-Tulaba and his Information Minister, Sherry Rahman, is a new comer in the PPP's fold with no political background."

It is this two-pronged movement which is likely to determine the tide of politics in Pakistan. There is also no doubt that Sharif rocking the boat so early does not augur well for its democracy, which has been earned with great sacrifices and hard work. Once in power, politicians often forget that.
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017