February 20, 2008


Filed under: POST-ELECTIONS 2008 — civilsocietypakistan @ 11:42 pm
Tags: , , ,


FEBRUARY 21, 2008


Thursday, February 21, 2008
Both the main political heavyweights, Mian Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari, did not wait for a day before making the demand that President Pervez Musharraf should quit as the people of Pakistan have given their overwhelming mandate against him. An equally belligerent presidency firmly rejected this demand within hours stating that the president had been elected for five years, and that was here to stay and would work with whoever formed the government. In this some may see the sowing of a potentially (mutually) destructive confrontation in future.

As for the demand that the president step down, there is immense weight in it for the simple reason that the election was in fact a referendum on the president and his policies. However, fulfilling the demand may be easier said than done. Furthermore, it is unlikely that the president will go down, so to speak, without a fight, though in most democratic and/or civilized countries by now this would have happened. A key factor in this whole situation will be the extent of the backing that the president receives both from the military and Washington. The PPP and the PML-N have won against heavy odds and after a bitter struggle in which they have offered huge sacrifices — of life, freedoms, prestige, finances, comfort and all. The people of Pakistan have recognized these sacrifices and repaid them with their support and confidence. The parties now have to move on very cautiously to consolidate their gains and ensure that a smooth transition of power takes place in the shortest possible time so that focus can return to the real issues waiting to be addressed. A premature and unnecessary confrontation with the president would therefore not be in order.

The first task of the winners should be to see that the president immediately summons parliament and that the issue of the formation of the government and the leader of the house is decided in a timely fashion. The PPP and the PML-N have to work together not to rock the boat before it starts sailing. They should set all the contentious issues aside, including, for the moment, that of the restoration of the judges, to get to the next step of the political process. There should now be no hesitation and embarrassment for Mr Zardari and Mr Sharif to meet the president and discuss with him the next step — of course this will be from a position of great strength and as the voice of the people of Pakistan. The mindset of the leadership must change from that of a persecuted band of unwanted non-entities to genuine claimants of power asking their due share of power. The issue of Mr Musharraf resigning should be left for a time when he tries to block the people’s mandate and acts in the old ways of a commando not ready to listen to anyone in his bunker.

Mr Musharraf should accept the reality and realize that if he fights it out and stays, it could be as a lame duck president. He should undo all that he has done in the past and this means freeing all political prisoners, deposed judges and lawyers and undoing the curbs imposed on the media including unwarranted bans on certain television anchors. The managements themselves should have acted since PEMRA has no authority or reason not to listen to the voice of the two main party leaders, one of whom said on Feb 19 that he would even consider disbanding it altogether. By not listening to these popular demands Mr Musharraf is not making the transition to democracy smooth.

If there is any sinister design in following such a course, it will be highly regrettable. People remember the 1970 election as free and fair and give credit to General Yahya Khan but they also remember that he refused to accept the mandate and the consequences were disastrous for the country. The president should now change course and accept the people’s verdict. Egos should not play any role at this time of national reconciliation.


Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: