Stability of Pakistan: Top Priority

  • 30 December 2007

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto—former Prime Minister and Chairperson of the Pakistani People’s Party (PPP)—last Thursday, caused  a breakdown in law and order across many Pakistani cities, as the country was already suffering from a serious spell of violence at the time of the assassination. The present scenario has raised many questions over the very future of Pakistan, especially in light of the uncertainty over parliamentary elections scheduled for January 8, 2008. In this context, many analysts confirm that the assassination has put Pakistan on the verge of uncertainty.

The dilemma that Pakistan is facing necessitates a set of measures to resolve the current crises. The first step would entail an honest and transparent investigation into identifying the real assassins of Benazir, as mystery shrouds the identity of the killers. Therefore, speculation and accusations are rife that threaten to deepen the political divide between the government and opposition forces. The second priority should be to maintain stability. The third relates to the necessity of formulating a national agreement regarding future parliamentary elections, where the decision taken by the ruling party to fix the date of elections without prior agreement with opposition forces would make the post-election phase hazardous. Undoubtedly, to forge such an agreement the government would have to be open to all opposition forces of all political orientations, so that they first agree on a definite date for elections, and then accept the safeguards for maintaining fairness and transparency in the electoral process so that the outcome is accepted to all parties.

If upcoming parliamentary elections are successful in forging a national consensus among Pakistan’s political forces, then they would contribute to building a wider national consensus for determining the future of Pakistan at the internal and foreign levels. For many years, Pakistan has been subjected to a deep divide between the government and the opposition over the priorities for national endeavor at the internal and external levels. Pakistan is currently passing through one of its most difficult phases in history, a phase that would seek from all nationalistic forces the need to rise up to the challenge that confront the country. This would require the parties to place national interests above their own narrow interests.