Pakistani Elections: Uncertain, Yet Laudable Milestone


Sam Hargadine, ContributorLast Modified: 13:40 p.m. DST, 03 April 2013

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Photo by Reuters, Faisal Mahmood, Pakistan Politics Election

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - The smoke filled back-rooms of Islamabad, Pakistan's capital, would make even 1920s Chicago blush. Power is concentrated among a few connected families with long histories intertwined by periods of conflict and cooperation.

Often times it seems the phrase, 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend', is an apt characterization for the evolving coalitions that have kept the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) in power.

But stay in power it has, at least for its first five-year term. For the first time since Pakistan's partition from India, in 1947, a civilian government is preparing to transfer power democratically. Elections are scheduled for 11 May 2013; however, the outcome is uncertain.

The PPP has marked its five-year tenure with corruption charges, poor governance, and weak oversight of the military. The likelihood of it retaining power is bleak.

The leading candidates include the main conservative opposition leader, Nawaz Sharif; Imran Khan, a famous cricket star; and (less likely) former military dictator Pervez Musharraf.

The PPP's most important security victory has been the relative pacification of the Swat Province in Northwest Pakistan. This achievement is distracted from however by Karachi's, Pakistan's business hub, slide towards violence. Minority groups and religious moderates are consistently threatened and/or attacked there.

All in all, the PPP should be given credit for its completion of a five-year term. It managed to wield enough influence among the military to stave off a coup; no small feat for a country that has had gruesome natural disasters and security breaches in the last term.

This laudable milestone however does not mean the PPP deserves to retain power. Transferring power will be current President Zadari's legacy. It is either that or a legacy of extreme corruption and impotency.

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