Since I wrote last email, primaries in US has heated up. Democratic race is tighter than ever: Hillary Clinton, the presumptive front runner, is now behind the new comer Obama. On the Republican side, McCain has all but captured the nomination. All other major players have dropped out steadily and silently. Of course, no election season is complete without a few juicy scandals, a few skeletons dragged out of the closet. The latest round goes to McCain: his alleged affair with a lobbyist reported by NYT.
But enough about primaries, the election is still ten months away. More urgent and more interesting is the development in Pakistan. I guess what is happening there has more effect on India. When it comes to Pakistan, America always has a big influence. Why Americans are interested in Pakistan? Simple: it is all about regional balance of power. They need to help India to counterbalance China. They need to help Pakistan to counterbalance India. There you have it. Of course, having the nuclear power does get international attention, especially if there is a change terrorists can get to them. Pakistan is an interesting mix of those two from American prospective.
Now that the election is over – fair or not, free or not, it seems Musharraf is in trouble. Yes, he is the military dictator that seized power from a democratic government in a bloodless coup in 1999. And yes, he is the one backed by US – there is a something about spreading democracy there that I never quiet got. The people of Pakistan are tired of Musharraf. They had two choices: Sharif and Zardari. The first is the last president Musharraf ousted and forced into exile. He is back. Well he tried a few times before he finally got in. Mr. Zardari is the widower of Benazir. Like her father before, she was assassinated, only a few weeks ago. So her party is left with her husband, better known as Mr. ten-percent, and her Oxford attending son, who needs to finish his homework before getting power. It amazes me how even today power in Indian subcontinent so closely follows the bloodline.
Now Sharif and Zardari, who were always political enemies, need to make nice to form a coalition. There is no love there, just the common hatred of Musharraf. Hate unites us more strongly than love can. It is not a big surprise that Sharif is all about getting rid of Musharraf. The story of Zardari is another matter: he is called Mr. ten-percent for no reason. His has this corruption case against him that Musharraf can use, and he is already using it. So Zardari is more flexible with Musharraf. Yes, it is true he blamed Musharraf for Benazir’s assassination, but that was before the election. And then there is a question of the chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who was dismissed by Musharraf.
Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry is a bad apple: he did not fit the robe of chief justice in a country whose judiciary is supposed to serve the military ruler. He wanted to be independent. You see the problem. It is expected that if he is back, he would declare Musharraf’s presidency unconstitutional. Sharif wants him back, Zardari is not so keen. You see, as it turns out Chaudhry is not big fan of corruption either. That can surely cause problem for Zardari.
Oh, before I forget remember that neither Zardari nor Sharif can be prime minister. Corruption charges are pending against both of them. No politician is worth of his salt if he did not have a few corruption charges. So they have to be satisfied with backroom string pulling.
It is great drama for now. A stable Pakistan is better for the world; it surely is better for India. A democratic government is icing on the cake. It would have a positive influence on the region. Most of all, Pakistani people deserves it. They have been through a lot already.
But you never know. Already, the US and UK, the supreme priests of democracy, are calling to keep the dictator. It seems when it comes to diplomacy, they always prefer a dictator over a democratic government.