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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Pakistan and the return of Nawaz Sharif /Benazir

I am sure most of you have heard of the return of former prime ministers of Pakistan: Benazir and Nawaz Sharif. I grew up as a kid following the politics of both these "democratic" leaders and to be honest their return or thier intent to return does not excite me. IN fact their claim that their presence or absence will determine if Pakistan has democracy or not is ludicrous.

As the Gurdian states about Benazir:

Few would argue with the proposition that democracy is almost always preferable to dictatorship; but it is often forgotten the degree to which Bhutto is the person who has done more than anything to bring Pakistan's strange variety of democracy - really a form of elective feudalism - into disrepute. During her first 20-month long premiership, astonishingly, she failed to pass a single piece of major legislation. Her reign was marked by massive human rights abuse: Amnesty International accused her government of having one of the world's worst records of custodial deaths, extrajudicial killings and torture. Bhutto's premiership was also distinguished by epic levels of corruption. In 1995 Transparency International named Pakistan one of the three most corrupt countries in the world. Bhutto and her husband, Asif Zardari - widely known as "Mr 10%" - faced allegations of plundering the country.
As for Mr. Sharif, he never fared any better either as BBC writes:

He controversially reversed a constitutional amendment which took away the president's powers to dismiss the prime minister.

A power struggle with the judiciary also gripped the country after Mr Sharif fell out with the then Chief Justice, Sajjad Ali Shah.

Mr Sharif faced possible disqualification from office after charges of contempt of court were brought against him, but these were eventually dismissed.

In 1998, he was confronted by another stand-off after a former army head said the army should formally have a say in the running of the government.

I dont think that any individual can claim to bring back democracy . I think the two most important aspects of any democratic fair system is justice at every level of society and the education of the masses. The problem with the education system is perfectly explained in this week's Crossing Continents ( BBC):

Pakistan's Government of President Pervez Musharraf likes to describe itself as being on the frontline of the "war on terror". But there is another related war going on, a struggle for the heart and soul of Pakistan's education system.

It is a war the government is losing. Sixty years after independence, more than six million children are not attending school. And that's a conservative estimate. Of those that are in school, something like a third drop out when they are just five or six years old.

These are uncertain times for Pakistanis politically ( both global and local politics) . Please make dua for Pakistan.


Abu Adam said...

I always had a hard time understanding pakistani politics, thank you for sharing this with us :)

Anonymous said...

much as i regret the return of the crooks to the pakistani political stage, yet, if democracy is to be understood fundamentally as the will of the people expressed through the polling booth then the return of benazir bhutto and nawaz sharif does indeed largely determine a return to democracy.

the crisis in pakistan is in deed saddening but through it we as a nation have salvaged two great achievements which earlier had only been faraway dreams: a highly independent judiciary and a free press.