Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Nepalese Choice: Is This Possible in Pakistan?

Pakistanis have had to choose between the military dictators and the familiar corrupt politicians for all of their 60 years of history. They have gone back and forth between these two choices. This year, they have chosen the familiar corrupt politicians after suffering many indignities and food and electricity crises of last year. Not only have Pakistanis rejected the military rule, they have also rejected the Islamic parties who made significant gains in 2002 elections, right after the US bombing of Afghanistan with Pakistan's assistance. Besides the Islamic parties whom they have just handed a major defeat, do Pakistanis have a another choice? Is there a force lurking within Pakistan that could suddenly rise up as a viable alternative?

Contrary to expectations of most observers, Nepal has voted such a force into power. Charles Haviland of the BBC reports that "Nepal has been rocked by an electoral thunderbolt. As the Maoists surge towards victory in the elections to a constitutional assembly, even some of their leaders have expressed surprise at its apparent scale."

If Pakistanis continue to be ill-served by their rulers as they have been, is the Nepal scenario likely to play out in Pakistan? Probably not. Is it possible. I think it is. Only time will tell.

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