Courting instability

Gilani’s exit is a blow to the already besieged democratic consolidation in Pakistan

Written by The Indian Express | Published: June 21, 2012 3:51:23 am

Gilani’s exit is a blow to the already besieged democratic consolidation in Pakistan

The fact that Pakistan’s civilian government accepted without protest the supreme court’s verdict,disqualifying Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani from the parliament,and promptly proceeded to discuss his replacement,does nothing to soften the blow that has been dealt to the process of democratic consolidation in Pakistan. When the court had meted out a symbolic sentence to Gilani in April,it was read as a victory of sorts for the civilian government,which appeared to be managing the triangulated rivalry between itself,the military and the judiciary. Back then,the compulsion for Pakistani institutions to moderate their mutual belligerence in a deteriorating internal and external environment appeared to be bearing fruit. Tuesday’s verdict is a setback — not just for Pakistan’s civilian government.

The clock appears to have been turned back. The contempt of court case against Gilani,over his refusal to revive corruption cases against Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari,goes back to 2009 when the court overturned former president Pervez Musharraf’s amnesty to Zardari and others. But a debilitating assault on the civilian government had been inevitable in Pakistan’s increasing political disjunction,especially after the killing of Osama bin Laden. Nor was it entirely unexpected that it might come from the judiciary. Pakistan’s military and judiciary have often aligned against the civilian government of the day,and this verdict,too,will not be taken at face value.

Nevertheless,Gilani goes out as the second-longest serving PM. And Zardari looks set to supervise the first transition from one elected government to another. Together,Zardari and Gilani had played an important role in reviving India-Pakistan ties after the 26/11 freeze,and in daring to deepen bilateral economic ties. It now seems India must be prepared for greater instability in the region,given Pakistan’s worsening economic crisis,its widening rift with the international community and the intensifying turbulence on its western borders.

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