photo: AP/Emilio Morenatti
Mr. Sharif has been accused of many things in the past such as corruption and was disposed by the army in a coup during his second term but he is back this year for a third term. The news of Sharif’s win in the Pakistan election this week has been more or less hailed with warm congratulation from everybody. His opponent Mr. Khan said he was glade that the election went well, adding that this a great step towards a more democratic and stable Pakistan. The international community also sent their congratulations, most prominent among them was Mr. Obama and Mr. Singh, the Prime Minister for India. They are many reason why Mr. Singh and Mr. Obama would be happy to work with Sharif. Mr. Sharif is a strong proponent of the free market capitalism and he will do his outmost to control the military power that be after their checkered history.
Yet many mutual interests does not automatically translate into great friendship. Mr. Obama is deeply unpopular in Pakistan. Pakistan with Isreal were the only countries where they have voted in the USA election would have voted for Mitt Romney. Mr. Sharif during the election like many of the other candidate have talked against the USA drone war in Pakistan and would like to see an end to them. Mr. Sharif also wants to talk to the pakistan Taliban to find a diplomatic peaceful solution. He also tried during his last term to impose sharia law in Pakistan. Mr. Sharif will find it hard to work with the more robust judiciary system but perhaps he will be more cautious than he was 13 years ago.Mr. Sharif first priority after all is to secure an IMF bailout and continuation of USA aid to try and improve the economy. Mr. Sharif was elected on a mostly economic platform, Pakistan ailing infrastructure means that many industry lack a constant reliable power supply. Pakistan’s economy is also being crippled by spiralling inflation and widespread unemployment.
This focus on the economy, Taliban and corruption was reflected in many other campaigns running in this year election. Many other issues looked at by western media such as the blasphemy laws, minority rights, freedom of press was a non issues for the majority.
The other two major parties in the running were the Pakistan People Party led by Benazir Bhutuo’s widower Asif Ali Zardari and Tehreek-e-Insaf party led by the former cricketer Mr. Khan which both won around 11 percent of the national assembly seats. These results pale in comparison to the 41 percent share secured by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz led by Mr. Sharif. Mr. Khan has been the most vocal about election rigging which many attribute to his high expectation of winning the elections.Mr. Khan has hard last week of companying from his hospital bed after a fall while at a rally where he broke a vertebra. His lack of experience might have hurt him as well as Sharif favourite campaign line was that he played cricket once but he brought nuclear power to Pakistan.
The PPP’s fall can be easily explained.They have won only 31 seat this year a, stark fall from 2008 where they had 78 seats in the national assembly just after Bhutto was assassinated.Asif Ali Zardarias presidents has watched over the economic stagnation of Pakistan, he has been accused of corruption and as head of the party has overseen infighting.Benazir Bhutto’ and Asif Ali Zardari‘s son is the young PPP chairmen Bilawal Bhutto left for Dubai during much of the campaign.No clear explanation was given, rumours spread that it was because of a tiff with his father or that it was Taliban threats. There also has been defection from voters and party members to Mr. Khan.
The election has not been peaceful but has been deemed relatively fair in most part of the country and with a huge win margin of 41 percent for The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawazand high number of turnout of 60 percent it will be hard to transform election irregularities into full fledge election rigging allegation.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz led by Mr. Shariff has won 125 seats but it will still have to attract independents or create a coalition as it needs137 seat out of the 272 seats reserved for directly elected member which does not include 70 seats reserved for women and non-muslim.