Guest Blog by temporal who blogs at Baithak
The Pakistan elections are over and the people have spoken. But have they been heard?
It is after midnight Pakistan time and the results are trickling in. It appears from early results that PML (Q) the king’s party has received a massive defeat. And both opposition parties, the PML (N) and PPPP are surging ahead.
In the next day or two we will find out the total combined seats for PML (N) and PPPP. As of this moment they have 45 and 38 seats respectively for a total of 83.
Here is where the IF game comes into play.
Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari are unlikely allies. Both the parties have been vindictive against each other and had initiated cases of corruption and abuse of power against the other when in power that are still pending before the courts.
Big names that have suffered defeat:
- Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, President of PML (Q)
- Chaudhry Pervez Ilahi, the Premier of Punjab
- Chaudhry Amir Hussain, former Speaker
- Shaikh Rashid Ahmed, former Minister of Railways
- Ahmed Raza Kasuri, former Foreign Minister
Big names that won:
- Makhdoom Javed Hashmi, interim President of PML (N)
- Asfandyar Wali Khan, Chief of ANP (Frontier Gandhi’s grandson)
- Nisar Ali Khan of PML (N)
- Columnist Ayaz Amir
Big Names that were barred, did not or refused to participate:
- Imran Khan, head of PTI
- Chaudhry Aitezaz Ahsan, lawyer
- Asif Zardari
- Nawaz Sharif
- Shahbaz Sharif
- Qazi Hussain Ahmed of Jamaat e Islami
Widower, allegedly Mr. Ten Percent, interim co-chairperson of PPPP Asif Zardari along with teenager son Bilawal, voted in Nawabshah and then dashed off to Islamabad. He will be meeting with Nawaz Sharif soon to decide future course of action.
President Musharraf needs no intelligence wiretapping nor does he need a soothsayer to decipher the writing on the wall. He has heard the message. What he does now will save embarrassment to the one institution he avowedly loves – the Pakistan Army. If he decides to pack in, he will save the victorious politicians headaches. But will he?
If he decides to dig in, as a former commando he might, then he will pose problems for everyone around. The PML and PPPP united in their opposition might join forces to impeach or remove him.
Gen. Kiani will not let that happen. The Army has a tradition of standing by her own: witness how it maneuvered to protect the court martial recommended in the Hamoodur Rehman Commission Report of 1973?
The keys are with Pakistan’s strategic partner, and overlord – the lame duck Administration of President George Bush. It was reported last year that Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kiani was being looked at as Plan B in place of Musharraf. And to a lesser degree with the Saudi King. He has influence over Nawaz Sharif.
This thinking is fraught with uncertainties.
The public posturing of PPPP and PML (N) is superficial. The two parties have different agendas. They are only united in their opposition to Musharraf. Hatred is not a lasting bond. They will have to find more common ground in a hurry. Nawaz Sharif has hinted that he would nominate disgraced national hero Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan as his party’s presidential candidate. This will not be acceptable to PPPP. Benazir Bhutto wanted to hand him over to the U.S. Nawaz will do so over his dead body.
There is another major disagreement between these two parties. Nawaz Sharif wants to restore the Supreme Court as it was under former Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry. PPPP is silent on this. They only proffer judicial reforms.
If the results are any indication, Pervez Musharraf has delivered on Free, Fair and Transparent Elections. I do not consider pre and post election maneuvering rigging – to an extent that happens everywhere.
In the weeks and years to come political scientists and historians will compare this election with the 1970 elections under disgraced General Yahya Khan.
Yesterday I wrote in Pakistan Elections: The Number to Watch 185
Any combination of parties that together achieve this magical number and Musharraf is out.
The “any” should be taken with this caveat: there are certain combinations that don’t mesh. PPP + PML + Independents would work. But count out MQM and PML (F) out of this permutation.
And even then they will need the blessings of Mai-Baap. The U.S. interest in the mercenary soldiers to fight their proxy wars is paramount. That is where the U.S. billions went. While PPPP shows a propensity to accommodate the U.S., PML (N) is officially opposed to it.
The work of the new leaders is cut out.
Placate U.S. interests, raise the prices of petrol, which they will inherit from the caretakers, look after the flour crisis, the electricity and water crises.
The honeymoon for them will be over sooner than their first kiss.
Commenting on the debacle, the lovable curmudgeon Ardeshir Cowasjee told one anchor, “Chor gaya, Daku aaya.” (thieves went, robbers came.) The more things change the more they remain the same. Brace yourselves for more of the worse.
Musharraf is smiling. Can we read his mind? And can Sharif and Zardari hear the people?