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>Pakistan Political Ponderings

>A number of articles (introductions below) give a pretty nice overview of matters pertaining to Pakistan.

From the Wall Street Journal:

The results of Pakistan’s parliamentary vote are being billed as a repudiation not only of Pervez Musharraf, but also of President Bush, who has mostly supported the Pakistani strongman over the past seven years. We’re more inclined to see the elections as a vindication of both.

There is no doubt that the election was a significant blow to Mr. Musharraf’s political party, the so-called Muslim League-Q, which placed a distant third behind the Muslim League-N of former Islamist prime minister Nawaz Sharif and the Pakistan People’s Party of the late Benazir Bhutto. Mr. Musharraf certainly did little to endear himself to Pakistanis last year by suspending the chief justice of the Supreme Court and later firing him when it looked like the judge would not certify his election to a third term. Even worse was Mr. Musharraf’s November declaration of emergency rule, an ostensible move against Islamic radicals in which lawyers and civil-rights activists bore the brunt of the repression.

Under these circumstances, it would have been surprising — and suspicious — if Mr. Musharraf’s party had polled better than it did. But the Pakistani president nevertheless made good on his promise to resign his position as army chief of staff and hold parliamentary elections, despite a delay of six weeks following Ms. Bhutto’s assassination in late December.

Yesterday, an international observer group composed of members from the U.S., Europe and Australia certified that the election was “sufficiently transparent” and that “the will of the people was reasonably well expressed.” That is good news given predictions that Mr. Musharraf intended to rig the results, not to mention what might have been a bloody fallout if he had.

And again:

Pakistan’s election has been portrayed by the Western media as a defeat for President Pervez Musharraf. The real losers were the Islamist parties.

The latest analysis of the results shows that the parties linked, or at least sympathetic, to the Taliban and al Qaeda saw their share of the votes slashed to about 3% from almost 11% in the last general election a few years ago. The largest coalition of the Islamist parties, the United Assembly for Action (MMA), lost control of the Northwest Frontier Province — the only one of Pakistan’s four provinces it governed. The winner in the province is the avowedly secularist National Awami Party.

Despite vast sums of money spent by the Islamic Republic in Tehran and wealthy Arabs from the Persian Gulf states, the MMA failed to achieve the “approaching victory” (fatah al-qarib) that Islamist candidates, both Shiite and Sunni, had boasted was coming.

The Islamist defeat in Pakistani confirms a trend that’s been under way for years. Conventional wisdom had it that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the lack of progress in the Israel-Palestine conflict, would provide radical Islamists with a springboard from which to seize power through elections.

From the Pakistan Times:

Eleven women candidates on the national assembly general seats have won the contest.

According to break-up, out of the winning women 5 belonged to PPP, two to PML-Q, 2 to PML-N, while one each from Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and independent candidates, a private news channel reported.

And again:

Overseas Pakistanis remittances during the current fiscal year seven months jumped up by 22.44 percent.

SBP spokesman, Syed Wasimuddin told that the overseas Pakistanis remittances during July 2007 to January 2008 amounted to $3.62 billion, while $2.95 billion were received in the same period previous year.

Bulk of the remittances came from the Pakistanis residing in US, Saudi Arab, Arab Emirates and Gulf Cooperative Council countries.

Parsing all of that you come to the conclusion that the political system in Pakistan is robust and inclusive of women, that fundamentalism has been rejected by the majority and that the country is benefiting from a beshiverload of money coming back from overseas Pakistanis for whom increased access to employment markets in the US may be due to the country’s support for the War On Terror.

So, without going over the top, it seems reasonable to suggest that things in Pakistan will work out OK.

(Nothing Follows)

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