Subduing the control freak

Further along Pakistan´s never-ending democratic transition.

The passage of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan, in mid-April, has been hailed as a major milestone on the country's journey towards greater democratisation. It has come about as Pakistan passes through a very delicate – and bumpy – transition from military to civilian governance. Admittedly, there have been numerous such transitions in the country's past, but these have always been scuttled before they could reach any advanced stage. Nonetheless, today there is cautious optimism on display. One reason for this is a growing realisation that, this time around, political leaders are specifically trying not to repeat the mistakes of the acrimonious past.

It was the vendetta-based politics of the 1990s that led to the military playing the role of umpire between the political parties. In the latest instance, the military threw out the whole lot in 1999, plunging Pakistan once again into another era of 'controlled democracy'. Today, a chastened political class is far more mindful of what is at stake if its performance (or lack thereof) once again begins to erode public confidence. As such, the politicians are at least making the right sounds, though their actions and petty politicking leave much to be desired. Two years have passed since the democratically elected government was sworn in, a period that has seen some ups and many downs. It may still be too early to assess the success or failure of this latest transition, but some trends have emerged from within the hazy political backdrop.

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Himal Southasian