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Sunday, March 23, 2008

A Change in Pakistan?

George Wenschhof

If everything goes as planned, the Pakistan Parliament will meet tomorrow and vote to elect their prime minister. Here is a good read by the

While the new majority coalition in parliament has championed democracy, the leaders of the Pakistan Peoples Party (Bhutto - Zardari) and the Pakistan Muslim League -N (Nawraz Sharif) have a history that hardly embraces democracy.

Asif Ali Zardari, the husband of deceased former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was known as Mr. Ten Per Cent for the fee he charged individuals for doing business with the government. He was unable to run for parliament for he did not meet the eligibility requirements and he still faces legal charges for his actions during the time Bhutto was prime minister.

The other leader of the new coalition, Nawaz Sharif was deposed by Pervez Musharraf in a bloodless coup and exiled from Pakistan.

Interestingly, the person who will be nominated by this new coalition to be Prime Minister is Yousaf Raza Gillani who was speaker of the parliament when Bhutto was prime minister. He was jailed for four years by Musharraf for making illegal appointments. Here is a good read by

The fate of Musharraf remains tenuous as the incoming coalition in parliament have promised to vote to return the exiled supreme court justices to office. There is also the possibility they may try to also win the two-thirds vote needed to impeach Musharraf.

While the clamor for democracy is loud in Pakistan, the changes in parliament also reflect a support for previous leaders who suffered defeat in the past by Pervez Musharraf.

Pakistan is a country located in a strategic location in the world which also has operational nuclear weapons. The U.S. Bush administration has long been an ally of Musharraf. Fortunately, to date the military has stayed out of the politics unfolding in their country.

Reform is needed in Pakistan so lets hope that the incoming change in government is not merely a change in face in the same old ways of governing.

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