Adil just posed this question to the ATP audience. It is an important question, and it will be quite interesting to see what people think. ATP now gets thousands of visitors each day so the polls conducted there have at least some relevance to what the online Pakistani community is thinking, even if they are obviously conducted in non-scientific ways. So will there be elections in Pakistan in 2007, as were planned earlier?
As I read Adil’s post, I thought the following and posted it as a comment there. I think it merits posting here as well. It reflects my growing pessimism about the political situation in Pakistan.
Here’s a question, Adil, that has been bothering me for a while, and as you will see, making me quite pessimistic about the near future:
Why would any of the leading political parties in Pakistan want a fair, clean election anyways? Does PPP really want to take over this mess? or the Nawaz party for that matter? Do they really have a plan, or even a fig of an idea on how to change anything in Pakistan for the better? They are about as dumb on this issue (or most possibly dumber) than the General Sahib himself. The same educated elite/journalists who gave General Sahib research proposals on how to develop Pakistan will rehash their work and re-submit to any newly elected government. What changes? The same people will shuffle around the ministries and perhaps those who read the education reform proposals in this government would now end up reading police reform proposals, etc.
I think I agree with Jamshed that the ruling elite from all the mainstream political parties are quite happy with the deal they have right now (with the possible exception of Imran Khan). Their figureheads are all in some kind of powerful positions given the incestous relationships between the main political parties, they have plenty of people in ministries of some sort, there is plenty of money going around the table in various ways and some landing in their pockets, and each has someone to blame when things do not work out. Why would they want to change that? Pakistan’s situation reminds me of what is going on with failing auto-companies in the US. Each power broker has a role to play (and a little fiefdom to protect and call their own) but nobody wants to own the bigger problem really because then they might have to actually do something about it and take on their own friends and cronies.
Elections will be held, a figure head will be put in charge if Musharraf finds an island (or Dubai) to escape to , military will continue to impose its worry about national security/border goals above all else that might matter to the people of Pakistan, and the politicians will restart the game of pass the buck around. If it is not one Chaudhry in power, another will be, and if there isn’t Benazir in exile, someone else may be. The elite will spend a few years discussing if the opportunity has finally arrived for Pakistan to change for the better. They will pin their hopes on the few technocrats that might make it into the government but will give up again in 2-3 years time.
Only the majority of Pakistan has fully understood how this corrupt system works and that is why they stay off the streets and busy working away in the fields and in their offices. My humble proposal is to isolate the government, with their fake promises of a welfare state, to the margins so invested stakeholders, i.e. profit-making institutions, can take over. At the end of the day people still want Roti, Kapra and Makaan, and they can best earn it for themselves.