Pakistan Elections: 2008–Old Parties, New Expectations

Muslim Matters

Pakistan Elections: 2008–Old Parties, New Expectations

Supporters gather outside the ancestral mausoleum of the slain opposition leader Benazir Bhutto a day after general elections in Garhi Khuda Baksh February 19, 2008. REUTERS/Soomro

By Beena Inam Shamsi, MMNS

The Pakistani election of 2008 brought a severe defeat for President Pervez Musharraf’s allies on Monday, February 18. The Pakistan Muslim league-Quaid-e-Azam (PML-Q), which was formed five years ago, could hold very few seats and only few of the ministers from the previous cabinet could win.

With Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) looking to surge back into politics with their leading victory in the parliamentary elections, the question is what would happen to President Musharraf. Would he face impeachment? The prospects seem grim for his political future.

The 2008 elections displayed that the voters voted for a change because they are fed-up with the policies of the current regime. It led the voters in showing their reluctance from voting for the Musharraf’s party.

What was more unexpected was the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif‘s party PML-N victory in Punjab. Sharif had made his agendas clear that if his party wins in the National assembly, he would reinstate the Pakistan Judiciary.

Although, Sharif was barred from the elections by the elections commission, he took oath from all his candidates for the replacement of the judiciary during the pre-emergency scenario.

The fear of violence loomed great over the elections, and may have been a contributing factor to people staying away from the polls. However, the election process was largely free of violence, and there were no incidents of any major incident anywhere in the country.

Tahir Mahmood, an electrical engineer of Plymouth, Mich., is a strong supporter of PPP and followed the elections all day. Mahmood hopes that the elections won’t be rigged and if they are fair then the PPP would certainly receive victory, he said.

“I would support PPP because they represent people of Pakistan. If the elections are fair which I doubt then PPP will get enough seats to win,” Mahmood said.

Mahmood isn’t expecting any graphic change with the elections outcome but he hopes it will turn out beneficial for the Pakistani people.

The assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto brought tremendous support for PPP in those constituencies, which already have a large support-base for the PPP.

Bhutto was assassinated on Dec 27, which resulted in delaying of the elections.

Even though, Ghazala Burney Ahmad, a doctor in Canton, wasn’t much impressed by Bhutto but liked her policies on democracy.

“That is one thing that was for the good of the country otherwise she was not one of my favorite people,” Ahmad said.

She further said, “Future of this country is in God’s hand.”

Khalique Nawaz, an IT Profession working for Ford Motor Company, didn’t support Bhutto’s party either.

“Bhutto was in power for two terms. She had an opportunity to do good thing for Pakistan but she wasn’t successful. I never supported her. The people who were with her were not very competent, corruption was rampant during that time, her husband may be the reason she failed,” Nawaz said.

With PPP emerging as victorious and most likely to form the government, the question is how successful they will be and how the people of Pakistan would react to their regime in the next five years.


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