Thursday, February 21, 2008 at 9:39 AM
Moreover, the PPP and PML-N – with 87 and 66 seats, respectively – now command a decisive two-thirds majority in Pakistan’s 229-seat parliament, which gives them (along with smaller opposition parties) the constitutional authority to impeach Musharraf – as Sharif has vowed to do.
The result will be the voice of the nation and whosoever wins we should accept it – that includes myself. [Musharraf on the eve of elections...]
But frankly, this result should have surprised no one. After all, here’s what I wrote last August about how Musharraf and his Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Q) would fare in free and fair elections:
Bush and Musharraf are acutely aware that Musharraf does not stand a snowball’s chance in hell of winning a free and fair election in Pakistan. And nothing assured them of his ignominious defeat quite like yesterday’s Supreme Court decision to allow the man he deposed, the exiled Sharif, to return home, without prejudice.
Nevertheless, rumors of Musharraf’s demise are greatly exaggerated – especially given the unconditional aid and comfort he can count on from democracy’s avenging angel, US President George W. Bush. Indeed, Bush himself is a living example of how an unpopular president can survive parliamentary maneuvers by a hostile congress (or parliament) that would like nothing more than to impeach him.
More importantly, even though he may be “the most hated man in the country,” Musharraf retains deep loyalties among Pakistan’s military leaders. And, of course, their unqualified support is indispensable to any new prime minister who has delusions about ousting their former commander in chief – the man to whom many of them owe their military careers.
Not to mention that there’s no guarantee the PPP and PML-N will be able to put aside long-standing hostilities long enough to mount a joint political coup d’état. And here’s what I wrote last December about this unlikely prospect:
Nothing justifies Musharraf’s dictatorship quite like the chaos among the country’s opposition parties…. Sharif and Bhutto have discovered that the only politician they hate more than Musharraf is each other…. Instead of leading a joint boycott of parliamentary elections in January – as both vowed to do, they have decided to lead their respective parties to the polls.
Therefore, I fully expect Musharraf to exploit tensions among his political foes to maintain a firm, even if not quite dictatorial, grip on power. In the interim, however, chances are very good that internecine warfare will continue to define political life in Pakistan.
Meanwhile, the BBC reported yesterday that senior members of victorious PPP were shocked when Bhutto’s widower, Asif Ali Zardari, rejected their offer to become prime minister, by acclamation, in a new coalition government.
And, who can blame them – for deferring to Zardari and for being shocked? After all, Bhutto herself effectively appointed Zardari by bequeathing the PPP leadership to him in her will. How’s that for democracy…?
Nonetheless, in addition to predicting the PPP’s parliamentary triumph in my December commentary, I also predicted Zardari’s refusal to serve as follows:
Despite his firebrand political rhetoric, Zardari made it clear that he has no interest in succeeding his wife – as a martyr-in-waiting for her cause. Indeed, he seems quite happy to continue living the good life in Dubai (on the billions of dollars many Pakistanis suspect he embezzled by skimming off “10 percent commissions on government contracts” during his wife’s two terms as prime minister).
So, as the party now haggles to find a substitute candidate, let the bloodletting begin – within the PPP and with other emboldened opposition parties….
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Assassination of Benazir Bhutto
Bhutto’s 19-year-old son inherits party leadership