Winds Of Change

bhutto_1.jpgIt is said that Pakistan is governed by the three A’s, Allah, America and Army. With the general elections in Pakistan less than a week away, Pakistan’s new chief of army staff, General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani has ordered the withdrawal of army officers who are currently posted in various civilian departments. These officers include six Major Generals working in the National Accountability Bureau. According to a recent report, the General has ordered the military not to have meetings with any politicians.

The Pakistan People’s Party’s (PPP) election cell confirmed to the media that there has been no complaint from any of its candidates against any interference by the Military Intelligence. Also, Pakistan army’s intelligence outfit has quietly pulled out of the political campaign, after directives from the General.

The Pakistan Army, throughout, has been a major source of influence in the political as well as the social running of the country and has been interfering in the political system. Since 1947, four dictators have toppled the Government of Pakistan and destabilized the country’s political situation. Therefore, the country has never been able to gain a state of stability and has remained politically volatile even after 60 years of Independence. Researchers have even stated that the defense practically controls the economy there. Even the public domain is under the heavy influence of the army.

The sudden change in the military approach towards the politics of the country is quite evident. Some say that it is a conscious effort, put in by the current Chief of army staff, to make a point that he and the previous General were working on different wavelengths.

The country’s political scene became despondent last year when their only ray of hope, Benazir Bhutto, was assassinated on 27th December 2007. The elections, which were due in January 2008, were postponed after the sudden blow faced by the state. Their sole hope for the revival of democracy in the country was shattered when the country’s daughter, Benazir Bhutto was slaughtered by the extremist group, Jaish-e-Mohammad, at her home town Rawalpindi. She had returned to her motherland after spending nine years in political exile. All eyes are now set on her 19 year old son, Bilawal Bhutto, who has been handed the flag to lead his mother’s party on her footsteps and carry forward the Bhutto legacy.

The main candidates running for the election this year are Bilawal Bhutto (PPP), Shujaat Hussain (PML-Q) and Nawaz Sharif (PML-N). However, unlike the previous elections, this term might witness a major coalition government among the democrats to prevent the military from seizing power.

With PPP having an upper hand, the PML-N chief, Nawaz Sharif has assured the co-chairman of the PPP and husband of late Benazir Bhutto, Asif Zardari that his party will provide all the support needed in forming a government without intending a share in the power.

The democrat forces have joined hands, and it no longer seems as a dream for the public in Pakistan to see a democratic government after a period of six long years. At the same time, it has raised hopes for the Indian Government which is on tenterhooks of witnessing complete cooperation from its neighboring state.

Aakanksha Ahluwalia