The pathologies of military democracy

President General Pervez Musharraf's military-led regime had to go to extraordinary lengths before and after the 10 October 2002 elections to place Sindh under its control. With the help of top leaders from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid-e-Azam) (PML-Q) in Islamabad, including Prime Minister Zafarullah Jamali and senior intelligence officials, the difficulties were surmounted and a provincial setup extremely favourable to Musharraf eventually emerged. Even after taking 67 of the provincial assembly's 168 seats, the Pakistan Peoples Party (Parliamentarians) (PPP-P), the single largest group in the house, had to be content with sitting on the opposition benches in the company of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, an alliance of six religious parties.

Well before the general elections, the military regime had initiated the process of forming client parties and coalitions in Sindh. Some of these are the provincial offspring of national parties that were born with military assistance. Others were manufactured locally by Islamabad's factotums and their underlings. The PML-Q is an instance of the former species. The PML-Q, otherwise known as the "king's party", emerged in the wake of deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's exile to Saudi Arabia in 2000 through a deal that is yet to be made public. The majority of PML (Nawaz) politicos left the party and formed the Quaid-e-Azam league, which openly supported the bloodless military coup of General Musharraf and got political largesse in return. This national symbiosis naturally extends to the provinces as well and therefore Sindh has its own branch of the kings party.

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Himal Southasian