With the world still tut-tutting and trying to figure out what the most recent election in Burma portends, there seem renewed worries about Pakistan’s military taking charge again. Most of this is, rightly, due to the venal incompetence of its President Asif Ali Zardari. According to Maria Kuusisto of the Eurasia Group,
it seems that just two years after the fall of former president (and general) Pervez Musharraf, the military may once more intervene. Only don’t expect a coup like the one that brought Musharraf to power in 1999. Despite a long history of meddling in Pakistan’s politics, the army is likely to stay behind the scenes this time and force the government to improve governance or face significant reshuffling.
While Pakistan reels from the most recent floods — the misery from which the government was unable to lessen — the country’s political ruling class are passing the parcel of responsibility without any attempts at governance. Zaradari’s PPP (Pakistan People’s Party) is doing what it does best: fritter away the political base of its grass roots in the venal machinations of a party machine geared to making the rich leaders richer. The PML(N) (Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz) likes things the way they are, out in opposition while they snipe at the government. And — you guessed it — while they feather their nests. Some of the feathers are, no surprise again, provided by the US taxpayer in the form of payments to allow transportation of NATO supplies to Afghanistan through Pakistan.
If the PPP and the PML(N) look like much of the same, its because they are. Both parties are led by scions of large, super-rich, land-owning families. The difference is that one (Zardari) came to his position by marriage (to the daughter of the founder, who himself came from the richest family in Sindh, the Bhutto’s of Larkana) and the other (Sharif) by birth. Little wonder they are incapable of rising to the challenge that is modern-day Pakistan.
So where do we go from here? Kuusisto may just be right:
Now, the army’s leadership is becoming worried that it may not have a country for long if it lets the political, economic, and security situation further deteriorate. As a result, expect Kayani to begin putting pressure on the PPP to improve governance, but from behind the scenes. The general, unlike his predecessor, will carefully evaluate the political mood (both domestically and internationally) and follow constitutional processes in challenging the current political set-up.So change is coming to Pakistan, and the military may soon be sitting in the director’s seat. But expect less drama than in its past performances; most of the action will stay behind the scenes for now.
So who’s better off? Burma or Pakistan? I’d say it’s a close run thing: after all, Burma has Ang Sang Suu Kyi