Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Election NIght Pakistan: Sweeping But Not Complete Opposition Victory

Posted by K.E. White on February 19, 2008

While the PML-N and PPP have had a huge night, it appears initial forecasts of a two-thirds majority (which would allow presidential impeachment or Constitutional restoration) may need to be corrected. 

Whether owing to vote-rigging or not, the failure to seal a 2/3s majority may be why President Musharraf feels comfortable calling this “mother of elections” the “voice of the nation.”

It also appears that the PML-N had more success than expected. 

From The Dawn:

But while the partial results had already started trickling in, the president, while appearing briefly on the state-run Pakistan Television, called the vote “the voice of the nation” and said whoever won in what he called the “mother of elections” must be accepted. “We must accept the result gracefully.”

While the PPP was likely to win most of the National Assembly and provincial assembly seats in its main power base of Sindh province, besides sharing the spoils in the other three provinces of Punjab, North-West Frontier Province and Balochistan, the PML-N looked doing unexpectedly well in Punjab, even giving some shocks to a friendly PPP.

While top PPP leaders remained comparatively inactive during a 40-day mourning for Ms Bhutto and did not campaign much even afterwards, PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif created his own wave in his home province of Punjab and Hazara region of the NWFP with his hard line against President Musharraf and for the restoration of about 60 superior court judges who were sacked under the extra-constitutional emergency the president had declared on Nov 3 in his now given up capacity as army chief.

Both the PPP and PML-N have vowed to cooperate in the formation of the future government — and possibly have a government of national consensus — if they together win a majority. A two-thirds majority in both houses of parliament would enable them to impeach the president and to deprive the presidency of its powers to sack a prime minister and dissolve the parliament by restoring the Constitution to its pre-Oct 12, 1999 position when General Musharraf suspended it while capturing power by toppling the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif and then amending it by decree.

But that does not seem to be an immediate possibility while a PML-led coalition has a majority in the 100-seat Senate and it is not yet certain if all the opposition parties together will have a two-thirds majority in the 342-seat National Assembly.

The coming days guarantee high-stakes discussions between the PPP and PML-N. How these will pan out, and where Musharraf will end up seems an open question.

But one thing seems clear: While low turnout and violence did mar the elections, the day was a success—a considerable feat in light of Benazir Bhutto’s recent assassination.

And if you didn’t know, Senators Joe Biden (D-DE), Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and John Kerry (D-MA) were in Pakistan for the historic day.

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