Will Pakistan Stabilize?

Pakistan's instability is dated back to its inception. The imminent question comes in our minds is: Will stability ever return to Pakistan? Ever since, Musharraf sacked Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary in 2006, followed by Lal Masjid incident, failed peace deal with Taliban militants in Waziristan, assassination of Bhutto are some of main events in last two years which made Musharraf weak and in turn affected the stability of Pakistan. 

This clearly shows one trend that our neighbor is not stable under the civilian leadership and comes into jitters whenever the military returns back to barracks. Even after 60 years of Independence from the colonial rule, Pakistan has not been able to stabilize in the real sense. The assassination of Benazir Bhutto was an event which had tremendous impact on the civil society of Pakistan. For the first time, we could see the civil society rising against the ruthless military dictator and uniting with cynical politicians to establish a civilian set up. There was some ray of hope for stability when the arch rival parties PPP and PML-N formed the coalition government after February 2008 elections. The positive vibes were felt by many Pakistan watchers that stability would come back, but after the withdrawal of PML-N ministers from the federal cabinet and repeated threats by Nawaz Sharif to Asif Ali Zardari regarding pull out from the coalition government on the issue of Musharraf's removal and reinstatement of dismissed judges, PPP was prompted to fall in line with Nawaz Sharif. 

After Musharraf Will the political squabble among the PPP and PML-N begin? Six months after the ouster of Musharraf, will the military intervene to bring cosmetic stability? Will the PPP be able to deal with economic downslide in Pakistan? Will the PPP led coalition government be able to control the raging Taliban in the NWFP and FATA areas? These are some vital questions which will determine the stability factor in the coming months. 

At the top decision making level, there is a total political squabbling and paralysis on the decision making on key issues of national interest. Now, in that case how will stability come? Internationally, in US which is a key ally of Pakistan a change of guard is expected. Democrat President would mean paradigmatic shift in US-Pakistan relations. One would be freeze on anti-terror funds which are presently used to combat terrorists on the Afghanistan- Pakistan border. 

One positive sign for Pakistan is from the statements made by army chief Kayani who does not want military to intervene in civilian governance. After Musharraf's ouster Pakistan army is expected to tell the Government that the internal security duties in the FATA and the NWFP should be performed by the police and Para-military forces so that the army could focus on its core function of defending the border with India.1 This offers some opportunity for the political parties in Pakistan to act in a judicious way and look for stability in Pakistan. 

Ever since PPP coalition government has come to power this year, the decisions taken by Yousaf Raza Gillani (Pakistan PM) do not point out anywhere towards stability in Pakistan. The first was a government notification of July 25 which placed the Inter Services Intelligence agency under the control of Interior Ministry, and its withdrawal seven hours later following protests from the President's office and army headquarters2 points towards weakness of the civilian government at the hands of military.

Second pointer towards instability is continuing involvement of the ISI in Kabul bombing of the Indian embassy. Third pointer is the repeated ceasefire violation along the Line of Control in Kashmir and statements made by the Pakistan Foreign Office on bringing back the issue of Kashmir to the United Nations for discussion after the current Amarnath shrine controversy. 

Pakistan seems to be going into a state of jungle where power and politics is driven by self interest. Politics and pursuit of power without a legal/normative framework, or constitutionalism reduces state and society to the lowest ebb.3 The civilian leadership has ample time after Musharraf resignation to establish a sovereign and free democratic republic, but the danger of repeating history looms large over Pakistan. 


More by :  Rahul Mukand

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