In South Asia on 15. June 2010 at 21:35

Islamic state of Pakistan, has since its rebirth in 1971 following the civil war had three big political groupings in power. The first being the Khakhi group (i.e. the Army) which has since the independence of Bangladesh been in power in the periods 1977-1988 and 1999-2008. The second group is the Pakistan Muslim League factions which have been the protégés of their military masters and in democratic periods been a major source of influence for the army. Parties belonging to this group are as following:

Pakistan Muslim League – Junejo (Political platform for General Zia which included most of the current leaders of different PML factions, including Chaudhrys of Gujrat and the Sharif family of Raiwind). Now merged into PML-Q.

Pakistan Muslim League – Fida, which today is better known as PML-Nawaz after the powerful two times prime minister Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif. The party is organized around the person Nawaz, his family and close friends. Nepotism is a trademark for the party, hypocrisy is another. Although the party have managed to become a serious power in Punjab since General Zia installed Nawaz Sharif as chief minister of the province in the 80s. The party has since been the arch enemy of the PPP in a dirty game thru the 90s for money and power.

Pakistan Muslim League: Latest dictators platform, a union of several local parties and different PML factions. Also known as PML-Q (Quaid-e-Aazam).

Of these three the PML-N and PML-Q are still in motion and have representation in the parliament. And as is the case of Pakistan as in Israel; if more than 3 Pakistani are gathered at the same place, you have a political party. There are several other offshoots which are led by spin doctors.

The third groups are the democratic federal and national political parties. These groupings have been staunch opposite to the military whenever they themselves are let out of power. These parties manage to create a common front to oust a military power after some years of horse trading with the dictatorship itself. This more often ends with the Pakistan People’s Party to betray their brethren in the democratic movement and reign alone. PPP being one of few major parties represented on federal level (i.e. representation in all the provinces) overrules local parties which are just as democratic oriented as themselves. These parties are as follows:

First of all the PPP. Today this party is led by Benazir Bhuttos widowed husband Asif Ali Zardari. He is of today the president of Pakistan and the most powerful civilian leader in the state. With a criminal record on the economic field which still won’t let go in the Swiss and French courts this man is also a reminder for the poor Pakistanis that a General might work better than a civilian government. Currently Zardari have managed to get his cronies and allies in the party on top positions and consolidated his power to these folks. The Central Executive Counsel, which is the foremost legislate branch of the party is reduced to a consultative group of former honorary members. Thereby the party is by some critics called PPP-Z (for Zardari, or more metaphorically Zia, the dictator who had PPPs founder and first leader Zulfiqar Bhutto hanged in 1977)

Awami National Party, a social democratic party working for the moderation and development of the Pashto population in the war torn north western areas of Pakistan. Currently the party is in a federal government with PPP and MQM. The party is led by Asfandyar Wali Khan, the grandson of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, better known as Baccha Khan or The Frontier Ghandi. Khan believed in a nonviolent struggle for independence and an enlightened and educated society. His grandson’s party is merely a shadow of these noble thoughts.

Muttahidda Quami Movement, a right wing local nationalistic party in urban Sindh is led by the notorious former gangster Altaf Hussain. Currently Hussain lives in self imposed exile in UK despite his party being in political power at federal and provincial level since 2002. The party represents the Muhajirs (those who had to leave their homes in 1947 during the partition of British India). The party has good leaders and politicians at local level and has managed to show good results as in Karachi during the Musharraf years under the Mayor Syed Mustafa Kemal. But it is also of notice that this party has close links with local mafia and criminal networks and is often involved in political violence and target killing.

In Baluchistan, the biggest province in total area but the least populated part of Pakistan there are several nationalistic parties which demands independence from the main body. Of these the strongest is Baluchistan National Party which has thru horse trading managed to get some influence in the local administration. Moreover there are no serious local parties while the PML-Q, ANP, PPP and religious groupings are quite influential. The province is also under a major silent military operation in order to get rid of separatist movements and secure gas fields and pipelines.

Religious parties as Jamaat-Ullema-Islam-F (Fazl-ur-Rehman) and Jamaat-e-Islami managed to get some power in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan following the 2002 election. The election campaign was marked with polarization in the aftermath of 9/11. During the 2008 election these parties could not manage to get a common platform, while some groups boycotted the election the JUI-F managed to get 2,2% of the popular vote. This was a major blow for the hardliners.

Now, after 2 years of complete democratic governance led by a PPP-ANP-MQM-(JUI-F will soon quit the good company), the old ways of political dogfight have managed to come to the surface once again. The Army which is not interested in political power as of today is more than busy with the “war on terror” or more rightly pronounced the operation against local insurgencies. The judiciary which now finally seems to have some guts tries to defy undemocratic legislation and executive orders now questions the corruption cases against the President, ministers and 8000 politicians in the time period 1986-1999. The opposition led by PML-N tries as best it can to become a alternative to the current government by criticizing its economic and foreign policy (not that its own politics would be any better). With the pools and interviews of the common Pakistani it seems like PML-N can topple the government if election took place today. This would bring us back to the Pakistan of 90s, where governments looting and toppled in an average of 2-3 years at a time. This is although not the case now.

The new era in Pakistani politics is the arrival of at least two more parties which are and will be represented at federal level in addition to PML-N and PPP. The first one being PML-Q have already ruled the nation for 5 years (being the only government to fulfill its constitutional term) and which still after the blow in 2008 elections have representation in all the provinces. This party has lost several mandates and legislators to other groupings, most notably PML-N and PPP. The second one is the newly created All Pakistan Muslim League (APML, the same name as the party which led the Pakistani movement prior to independence) and is led and founded by former dictator General Pervez Musharraf. APML have already managed to get several members and party workers in all the provinces of Pakistan, which is a rare happening. It is expected that PML-Q in future will break up and its members will join APML, PML-N and PPP. Moreover being a charismatic leader Musharraf have also managed to gather smaller parties in order to bring these under one umbrella. He did so when his supporters created the PML-Q and he will manage to do so with the APML. Whether or not this party will be a success is dependent on what kind of politicians the former president recruits and what kind of message he is going to deliver. At a first glance his folks and he himself seems to be too optimistic to get electoral support where his opponents have long traditions in maintaining good relations with voter bases. In addition the nation is at a crossroad where there is more often talks of a revolution, but without any movement strong enough to support it yet.

This new troika with strong local parties will make a coalition government a necessity if not future elections are rigged. This means a check between the coalition partners on each other and alternatives among other parties to tear down or build up governments. Surely a political system which only focuses on changing bed partners on every subject the nation’s development will not benefit. But will the political system be given some time and will the two party system finally come to an end there are hopes of some degree of maturity.

Bringing such systems to the real life, there are party leaders who do not have clear manifestos or programs. Their only capability is to make good deals for their own gains. When the public looks upon their legislators being charged with cases as false school degrees and power theft they will surely loose the faith in such parties. This will benefit separatist movements and insurgent groupings. This will also strengthen the possibility of a future military takeover. It is a loss for the public, when their vote ends up with left and right wings sitting in a joint government. When the political parties in such coalitions have totally different agendas and policies and still can sit together, then there are clear indications that whatever these parties promised the nation, they will not implement it. Therefore, it is about time, that other regional political parties get presence at federal level so they can compete and make alternatives to the established order.


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