Elections could increase political crisis in Pakistan: Report

January 12th, 2008 - 4:45 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Benazir Bhutto

Lahore, Jan 12 (ANI): The general elections in Pakistan due on February 18 could either dampen tensions and set the country on a path towards stabilisation, or exacerbate a long-running political crisis, a report released by the Oxford Analytica has said.

The international consulting firm states that the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto last month forced the opposition parties to cooperate on strategy with regards to the election. However, events since have also stoked provincial, ethnic and political divides.

In the aftermath of Benazirs death, her home province of Sindh suffered the most unrest, where it was tinged with provincial and ethnic animosities. Hundreds of bank branches, as well as railway bridges, stations and trains were destroyed.

According to the report, the riots in Sindh had crowds shouting anti-Pakistan and anti-Punjab slogans while the properties of non-Sindhis were also attacked.

In Punjab, crowds directed their anger towards the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid. The report claims that following Benazirs death, relations between the PML-Q and the PPP have become more bitter, as both parties have exchanged allegations around the circumstances of her death.

Meanwhile, the report states that poisonous inter-party relations are also shaping the election campaign and bode ill for cooperation between the winning party, which it predicts will be the PPP, and President Pervez Musharraf.

It states that within the PPP itself, two major groups seem to be emerging one anti-Musharraf group led by Asif Ali Zardari, and one led by Vice-Chairman Makhdoom Amin Fahim, who would be willing to share power with Musharraf..

The Oxford Analytica maintains that to ensure electoral victory, these differences probably wont be expressed in public before the elections as both sides want to benefit from a wave of sympathy for Benazir, but they are certain to become more acute following the polling.

It says anyone seen creating rifts within the party or challenging the PPP leadership would risk undermining their own political position.

However, the report alleges, elements within the intelligence agencies are looking to exploit divides within the PPP.

In particular, they are targeting Bhutto family members that have better relations with the Musharraf government, the Daily times reported. (ANI)

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