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Pakistan (and Iraq et al): "Phased (in) Democracy" vs. "Instant (Jammed) Democracy"

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Perhaps the two most prominent experiments in exporting western style Democracy are Pakistan and Iraq. What happens in each really serves as the model for how well it is received and imported by the rest of the developing world going forward.

 

The questions– Is it being done right and in the most optimal manner possible? Is the “buyer” (Pakistani and Iraqi peoples/governments) in fact, buying it? If not, why not? And then how to "sell" more?

 

One illustrative way to look at this socio-political phenomena is as one might a commercial business enterprise seeking to be successful and grow.  The product in this case is not widgets but rather Democracy. The buyer or customer, the Pakistani/Iraqi peoples/governments. The West wants to export (sell) more product. So how do you spark demand to get these and other countries to demand (import) more product.

 

In both Pakistan and Iraq, their respective but similar historical leadership (and governing) legacies have neither embraced nor practiced a democratic constitution and principles. Rather, following what each was traditionally accustomed to – military and/or dictator rule. For example, as the popular saying goes in Pakistan, "Power in Pakistan flows from the uniform".

 

And keep in mind, Pakistan is just 60 years old and Iraq not much older, yet military and/or dictator rule has been the more often than not, the norm. Whereas the benchmark U.S. has never had military et al rule - neither in its first 60-80 years nor anytime during its entire 232 years since its own Independence. Pakistan and Iraq (and many other like countries with similar governing histories) are therefore VERY different than the U.S. and must be approached with that keen distinction, understanding, sensitivity and respect to that difference in culture and mindset…and as a result, treated DIFFERENTLY.

 

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Author’s Note Re: Yesterday’s Pakistani Presidential Election:  

That difference is even evident in the Pakistani approach (albeit quasi-democratic) to electing a President following a resignation, as the recent case with Musharraf and yesterday’s election of Benazir Bhutto’s widower Asif Ali Zardari as President.

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As widely reported, the election was not by public vote, but rather by lawmakers in the two houses of the National Assembly and in the four provincial assemblies around the country. Under Pakistan's constitution, the President is elected by a majority vote of the National assembly. 

Had the vote been a public one, the result may not have been as overwhelming or perhaps even the same, given the general population’s view of him as “Mr. 10%”. Plagued by corruption charges, this tag seems to have stuck in the minds of the Pakistani people. While he pitches democracy and a commitment to return some significant powers to Parliament including the Musharraf inspired/created Presidential powers to dissolve Parliament and fire the Prime Minister (even though the PM is suppose to have the power and the President but a figurehead - evidence then just how much Musharraf changed things - the question - will Zardari (really) give those powers back?) among several others, don’t be surprised if the ego takes precedence over the people and overwhelms the promises (democracy); and he starts to assert himself as just another strongman. This time (in his case), dangerously (to himself) doing so without the Army/ISI behind him.

A tally by The Associated Press of the results showed Zardari with 488 of the 685 votes, based on a formula that gave each of the four provincial assemblies equal representation and left most of the say with federal lawmakers. Saeed-uz-Zaman Siddiqui, a former judge nominated by Sharif's PML-N party, was second with 153. Mushahid Hussain, a senator from the pro-Musharraf PML-Q party routed in February parliamentary elections, was last with 44. 

Winning the election is one thing. Zardari’s real challenge however, will instead be how to endure in the position without the Army/ISI in his pocket. History and the odds are stacked against him. And given his apparent ego driven lust for power, may blindly not even know it. 

On that note (i.e. Army/ISI support,) recall the Author’s article titled “Pakistan Presidency: The Musharraf (I’ll be Back) Resignation” (linked below) and the key to Presidential longevity in office is having the firm (tangible) support of the Army/ISI. Without it, the Zardari term in office may not be of long duration: 

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www.opednews.com/articles/Pakistan-Presidency-The-M-Brock-Novak-080829-336.html 

Author’s Related Note on the Presidential Militancy/Terror Challenge: 

A final thought regarding the Army and support of the Presidency.

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