Newly elected Nawaz Sharif poised to return as Prime Minister of Pakistan
The Pakistani's held their parliamentary elections over the weekend and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is poised to return to power.
Sharif was the prime minister from 1990 to 1993 and again from 1997 to 1999 when he was ousted in a coup engineered by the military that brought General Pervez Musharof to power.
After the coup Sharif lived in exile in Saudi Arabia until 2007, returning to Pakistan shortly before Musharof resigned in 2008.
In these elections Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Party won 46% of the seats in the National Assembly and with independent lawmakers winning seats, he should easily form a government.
Sharif's main rival was Imran Khan, the former star cricket player turned politician who during his campaign rallies appealed to popular sentiment by saying he'd end the CIA drone strikes and order the Pakistani military to shoot down American aircraft if necessary.
Sharif has also promised to rein in America's influence in Pakistan and review relations with the U.S. Yet these "ties" with the U.S. have been within the purview of the Pakistani military, the institution that ruled Pakistan for half of its 65 year history and surely will be a challenge to Sharif's civilian rule over the military. That military has been the recipient of billions in American military hardware and will not take kindly to any changes in relations with the U.S. that could jeopardize that arrangement.
But consider; Pakistan's territorial sovereignty has been compromised by clandestine CIA led special ops missions, particularly the raid that found and killed Osama bin Laden (without notifying Pakistani authorities beforehand and an ongoing embarrassment for the Pakistani military), the continuing drone strikes that kill innocents (as well as a few militants in the western tribal areas) and the 2011 killing of two Pakistani's on the streets of Lahore by CIA contractor Raymond Allen Davis and the U.S. subsequent payment of "blood money" to the victims family (thus ending his prosecution by Pakistani authorities) which didn't sit well with the Pakistani people and precipitated massive anti American demonstrations against the U.S. presence in Pakistan.
Getting back to the elections it should be noted the Taliban did interfere with people voting in the northwest tribal belt and Baluchistan as 21 people were killed nationwide. So they did have some impact on the electoral process. But they didn't stop a record turnout of people voting in these elections as the country was gripped with election fever.
Another significant development was what the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate) didn't do which was to refrain from interfering with the election outcome with vote manipulation and intimidation, activities they engaged in previous elections.
Whether Sharif will be able to fully take the reins of power and bring civilian control over the military is certainly an open question.
Also Pakistan has serious economic problems which may require an IMF loan (and U.S. influence pertaining to that loan). It also endures crippling power shortages.
What Pakistan doesn't need is the U.S. exercising hegemony over the country and having it enmeshed within in the U.S. obsession in its war on terror.
For sure the people of Pakistan want U.S. hegemony over their country ended, the drone strikes ended, the CIA and special ops withdrawn and their territorial sovereignty restored.
Again, whether Sharif is up to the task is an open question.