Under pressure from floods and courts, Pakistan's Zardari likely to keep his job
Ongoing confrontation between Pakistan's President Zardari and the high court has raised concerns about political instability, but some analysts say the lack of appetite for change means the government is likely to finish its term.
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The ordinance was ruled unconstitutional by Pakistan's Supreme Court in December, but the removal of key ministers and officials from office, in line with the court's recommendations, is not likely to be accepted by Zardari. This in turn has fueled speculation that the military will step in to enforce the court’s ruling on the NRO.Skip to next paragraph
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Little appetite for change
Beneath the surface, however there appears to be little appetite for change, argue seasoned politicians and analysts.
Most crucially, such a move would not be backed by Pakistan’s all-powerful Army, which has directly ruled the country for more than half of its 63-year history and doesn’t wish to take on the burden of running a struggling economy badly hit by the worst flooding in 80 years. International Monetary Fund (IMF) officials are due to visit Pakistan next week to assess whether to relax restrictions on the country’s burgeoning deficit. The damage to Pakistan’s economy caused by this summer’s flooding is estimated at some $9.5 billion, according to an assessment report by the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank.
“Why come forward and run the economy? Nobody can solve these problems,” says Mr. Almeida. His argument extends to the main opposition leader, Nawaz Sharif, whose PML-N party could allow the government to complete its five-year term and make its own run for power in the next scheduled elections in 2013.
Balance of power
Haji Adeel, senior vice-president of the Awami National Party, a Pashtun-nationalist party that is part of the ruling coalition, agrees. “At this time, there’s a balance of power inside the parliament in the center and the provinces. Everyone is in power everywhere, and nobody wants there to be early elections,” he says, noting that all the main regional parties rule their respective provinces, while a coalition holds sway in the restive Balochistan Province. In other words, it's unlikely any party already holding power would join a movement calling for early elections, or take the political risk of becoming a "front party" for the military establishment.
Instead, argues an editorial in today’s Dawn, “the extra slow game of chess between the court and the executive appears set to continue. Barring capitulation to the court’s demands, the executive has few options other than to draw the process out and buy time in small increments, as it has done in various ways since last December.”
Members of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party are confident that the crisis will die down. “I think the government will last out its term,” says Sherry Rehman, a member of parliament from the PPP and former Information minister. “There is indeed a paradox: the government continues to survive in the face of severe economic and development stresses with the flood and the war on terror,” she says, conceding that the public “may eventually seek a change in government, but not the system.”