Friday, February 29, 2008
Viewpoint - Mr. Zardari & Mr. Sharif, The Audacity of Hope
Their new friendship might not be good for the democracy.
[Text by mayank Austen Soofi]
Marvel at the audacity of hope in Pakistan. But be warned: the hope is not tenable. Mr. Musharraf is out of favour in his own country but not in Pentagon. Mr. Sharif has not won the largest number of seats but he may still want to be king. Mr. Zardari…well, Mr. Zardarai!
He has trimmed his feudal moustache and is talking the right talk but how long would he remain this way? Besides, would Pakistan Army never march out of its barracks again? And, don’t forget the suicide-happy volunteers of the Pakistani Taliban.
Should we still feel sunny?
They say Mr. Musharraf is almost history. That Pakistan Army would tame its basic instincts. That Mr. Zardari and Mr. Sharif’s grand coalition would carry Pakistan into the much-coveted category of being just another modern, developed, and boring nation.
Hello, read again.
Mr. Zardari and Mr. Sharif?
A democracy needs rivals. It needs at least two political parties with dissimilar ideologies. It needs at least two leaders with conflicting visions. It needs electoral enemies. It needs general elections. One leader wins, the other loses. One becomes the Prime Minister, the other serves as the Shadow Prime Minister. One should be a Sharif, the other a Bhutto (sorry, Zardari).
In Pakistan, Mr. Zardari’s Pakistan People Party is considered a natural rival of Mr. Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League. For instance, PPP is perceived to be moderate; PML (N) tilts towards Islamic conservatism. While these both might share the same vision about Pakistan’s future, on-the-surface perceptions do matter in politics.
The only way for democracy to blossom in our country is by letting these two parties to remain rivals. For the sake of stability, they should always present themselves as the two leading choices for us Pakistanis.
However, these are strange times. Mr. Sharif and Mr. Zardari should never have agreed to share power. But Pakistan is in emergency ward (sotospeak) and there are immediate goals to obtain: Mr. Musharraf to be disposed; the army to be disciplined; the terrorism to be countered. So, it’s OK for the rivals to shake hands. But once the sky clears, it would be wise for both PPP and PML(N) to part ways.