US fears Pakistan is heading towards a very flawed election

November 17th, 2007 - 1:57 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Nov 17 (ANI): The Bush Administration fears that Pakistan is heading towards a “very, very flawed” election, which could result in further chaos and instability in the country.
Pakistan may end up having yet another military regime, diplomatic sources have been quoted, as saying.
The US policy towards Pakistan has two basic objectives: Fighting terrorism and to promote democracy. The second objective stems from a realisation that the military alone cannot defeat terrorism, and therefore, it is important to take political forces along.
When this policy is implemented, it translates into a desire to continue to work with President Pervez Musharraf who should be partnered with a strong civilian politician to give the much-needed political clout to the government in Islamabad.
This led to the US involvement in negotiating a power-sharing deal between Musharraf and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Although this arrangement has run into trouble after the imposition of emergency on November 3, the Americans still want it to succeed.
The Americans, however, know that a government led by an uniformed President will never be accepted as legitimate, either in Pakistan or abroad.
Policy-makers in Washington also favour an equitable distribution of power between the President and the Prime Minister in this new set-up so that one does not feel suffocated by the other.
But before this new set-up is put in place, it will need to be seen as legitimate by a majority of Pakistanis. And the Americans have advised authorities in Pakistan to achieve this legitimacy by ensuring that the forthcoming elections are “credible and reasonably free and fair”, a senior diplomatic source said.
“They, however, do not see this happening, at least not under emergency rule. Their fear is that the elections will be “very, very flawed”, leading to widespread violent protests,” he added.
The resulting instability can lead to yet another military takeover. “And at least this time, the Americans do not want a military government in Pakistan because they know that the military alone cannot fight terrorism effectively,” the diplomatic source said.
“So they want to help put together a credible civilian set-up with a strong military backing,” he said.
The Americans feel that the first step the Pakistan Government needs to take is to make this set-up acceptable is to lift emergency, followed by Musharraf taking off his uniform and then the elections.
Sources said that the Americans understand why Musharraf had to impose emergency. Initially, the Americans had heard from their sources that the Supreme Court was looking for a formula that could resolve the dispute over Musharrafs eligibility without rocking the boat.
A few days before the emergency, however, the Americans learned from their sources (as did Musharraf) that the verdict might go against the General who panicked and imposed emergency.
The Americans agree with Pakistani political commentators who say that a national government will be the most suitable to deal with the situation arising from the emergency, but they fear that even if formed, such a government will be short-lived. “May not last even two weeks,” a diplomatic source said.
The second best option is the Musharraf-Bhutto coalition “but since the emergency the Americans worry that it is getting less and less likely to have such a coalition”.
This brings them to the possibility that the Ayub-Yahya scenario can be repeated, which is one general asking the other general to step in, The Dawn quoted the source, as saying.
“This is something the Americans want very strongly to avoid, but fear that it may happen if immediate steps are not taken to avoid a head-on collision between political parties and the army,” the diplomatic source said. (ANI)

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