ICG: Pakistan Analysis
Super smashing great. International Crisis Group contributes a characteristically swift and in-depth analysis, at an unusually tricky time of the year, along with the usual worthy recommendations.
However, it is another example of the 'democracy is the answer to everything' theory that - however heartwarming - is just far too simplistic.
Examine, if you will, the following:
It is time that the West acknowledges that only a legitimate elected government, led by one of the moderate parties, would have the authority and the popular backing to return Pakistan to its moderate democratic moorings.
Sound fair enough? Yes, but note the caveat in that only a moderate party is deemed fit to lead Pakistan. Democracy don't work like that - if people want to elect Islamists, they will. And to suggest that either Bilawal Bhutto, his dad or Nawaz Sharif will command 'authority' is deeply naive. Sadly, the election of a weak and tainted moderate party could well be the cause of Pakistan's unravelling.
The regime’s international backers, particularly the U.S., continue to give signs of wanting to retain Musharraf in the presidency in the belief that he and the military (his sole support base) are the only guarantors of stability in a crucial country. But after Bhutto’s murder, and with the extent of popular anger now evident, elections that are not seen as free and fair would have disastrous consequences. The person of Musharraf has become so unpopular that his continuation in a position of power guarantees increasing domestic turmoil. By continuing to back him, Western governments might not just lose the battle for Pakistani hearts and minds, but could also be faced with the nightmare prospect of a nuclear-armed, Muslim-majority country of 165 million descending into violent internal conflict from which only extremist forces would stand to gain.