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Pakistan’s Political Collapse: Three Fresh Signs

Posted by yourpakistan on December 13, 2011

The Pakistani political system has failed and is taking the country down. Here are three important signs in 2011: flawed party elections, influx of illegal weapons through airports, and parties running armed militias.


The Pakistani political system has reached a dead end. No reminders are required when we have an elected government led by individuals whose record for integrity and competence are questionable at best and possibly the worst in the nation’s modern history. 

But in recent days Pakistanis have seen three signs that confirm our worst fears: that our political system is beyond repair. It can’t be repaired through repeated elections and requires surgery to shape a new system that is both disciplined and forward-looking.

 Here are three cases that confirm this.

 1.Two New Lifetime Party Leaders In 2011

This would have been a scandal in any other democracy. But in Pakistan’s failed version, this does not raise eyebrows: two major political parties elected their party leaders unopposed this year, one for a fourth consecutive term and the other for the umpteenth time over the past fifteen years.

On Dec. 1, Mr. Asfandyar Wali Khan, was elected President of the Awami National Party, ANP. This was his fourth win in the past 16 years. He had the decency to resign from party presidency in 2002 after defeat in national polls, but he offered himself up for the same post a year later and was elected unopposed.

This time a committee of 600 persons elected him unopposed.

Five months ago, Mr. Nawaz Sharif, was elected President of his faction of Pakistan Muslim League, known as PML-N. The event was held in the grandeur of Jinnah Convention Center in the heart of the federal capital. One thousand and six hundred delegates elected Mr. Sharif unopposed. Not a single person from the party dared run for the seat. Mr. Sharif is expected to continue to lead the party, unopposed, until he dies or voluntarily abdicates. But there is no question of a new leader emerging from party’s ranks in a democratically.

Even better is the case of the ruling PPPP of President Asif Zardari, self proclaimed as the most democratic of all parties in the country. This party was founded by a group of idealistic and respected activists but the party chair has been passed from father to daughter to son in the same way that power was transferred from father to son in Libya and Syria. PPP’s Chairman, Bilawal Zardari, who changed his surname to Bhutto-Zardari, was 19 when elected chairman in 2007. A party with a long line of heavyweight feudal lords as members kept silent as Mr. Bhutto-Zardari was elected to replace his mother who in turn replaced her father.

MQM is the third-largest party in the country. It’ founder-president does not run for party elections and his orders are law. All major Pakistani political parties are considered militant with secret armies ready to battle it out if their turfs are challenged and MQM is considered to be one of the best in this regard. It is not clear if the party has any succession plans in place.

Ironically, the only major political party in the country that does have a democratic internal mechanism of electing party president is the religious Jamaat-e-Islami.

[PTI of Imran Khan is not included in this analysis because the party is still in transformation.]

2 .Over 7,000 Smuggled Pistols Seized At Peshawar Airport 

An intelligence agency of the federal government raided Peshawar International Airport earlier this month where it found 7,000 pistols and three million rounds concealed in a warehouse owned by the Customs Department. The building has been sealed. No arrests as of now.

Investigators said it looked like corrupt government officials worked closely with criminals and possibly terrorists to smuggle the cache.

The best part is that this is not the first consignment of this type. According to The News International, which first reported this story, only three weeks earlier, on November 7, a cache of 12,000 pistols were confiscated from the same place.

In 2009, a probe by ISI, country’s premier intelligence agency, found that DynCorp, a contractor for both US military and CIA, bribed Pakistani federal officials and used retired military officers to import banned weapons to be used by secret militias that the American firm was training inside Pakistan. The arrests were linked to hundreds of unaccounted visas issued by the Pakistani embassy in Washington to DC to CIA contractors posing as US diplomats.

3.  Sectarian Attack Kills Two In Karachi, Leading To Open Warfare On Streets

This happened on November 28, when members of one sectarian group that claims to represent Sunni Muslims attacked two young organizers for a Shia Muslim religious event.

What ensued was hours of gun battles that involved activists of both the Sunni and Shia groups, in addition to the police. It was stunning to see the activists with latest weapons.

Pakistan needs to crush sectarian groups, both Sunni and Shia, for good. The law now allows citizens to establish sectarian groups that divide Pakistanis. The law also allows citizens to form political parties on linguistic grounds, further dividing Pakistanis.

The situation is so bad today that there is hardly any national political party in Pakistan that promotes Pakistani nationalism. Political parties have degenerated into language-based divisions for political purposes, dividing Pakistanis instead of uniting them.

And all of these parties, linguistic and sectarian, have the freedom to block major roads and highways and indulge in protests that turn violent, destroy public property and spread instability in the country.

This is just a sample of Pakistan’s ailing political system. Pakistan continues to face instability and economic deterioration because of the failed American war in Afghanistan. The war has destabilized Pakistan and the region. But the negative impact is multiplied by the corrosive effects of a failed governing system in the country, which needs an overhaul.


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