Pakistan Institutional Organization and Internal Politics

By | December 17, 2021

Pakistan is a federal parliamentary republic, plagued by a chronic indeterminacy between the military and the political-civil spheres. If historically the military has ruled Pakistan for about half of its history, from the first military dictatorship of General Ayub Khan (1957-68), passing through the second line of General Muhammad Zia ul-Haq (1977-88), until the presidency of Musharraf (1999-2007), a substantial duopoly in the management of political power can still be recognized today. The main elective institutions, such as the presidency and the parliament, while formally holding full legislative and executive sovereignty, are de facto subjected to the strong conditioning of the military leaders. The headquarters in Rawalpindi, the country’s military capital, continues to exert a decisive influence in terms of foreign policy and national security as well as in the management of the Pakistani nuclear program.

The role of the secret services, Inter-Services Intelligence (Isi), which maintain a historically ambiguous relationship both with the executive and with the rest of the military apparatus, is one of the major issues that complicate the already precarious balance in relations between civilians and military. If the vision of the Isias ‘state within state’ may appear excessive, it is also true that the Pakistani secret services, which formally answer to the prime minister, maintain a good margin of independent action and that the danger of a radicalization of some of their sectors is considered a source of worry. If we add to the precariousness of this equilibrium the proliferation of internal fundamentalist groups and the turbulence of entire regions of the national territory, where Islamabad is unable to deploy a widespread and effective control, one immediately senses the uncertainty that prevails about the present and the future. neighbor of the country.¬†For Pakistan political system, please check equzhou.

The range of possible scenarios constantly being examined by diplomacy around the world is really wide: from the possibility that the country starts on the tracks of democratic consolidation to the risk that an implosion of the political-institutional system transforms Pakistan into a ‘failed state’, passing through the possibility that the military organize a new coup, dragging the state towards an authoritarian drift, or even that radical political positions can prevail, pushing Pakistani democracy towards Islamization. Of the four options, that of democratic consolidation, on which the major interests of the international community converge and above all of the actors most involved in the area, clash with multiple internal factors, endemic to the Pakistani system, which keep it from being fully realized. Among these, in addition to the already mentioned delicate cohabitation between civil power and military power, there is the substantial weakness of the Pakistani parties, the failure to renew the national political leadership, a chronic inability of civil governments to carry out their mandates and still corruption rampant, which innervates all branches of the administration. The fact that in the last decade of civilian rule, from 1988 to 1998, the executives were led alternately by Benazir Bhutto (former leader of the PPP) and by Nawaz Sharif (leader of the Pakistan Muslim League, PML-N, current prime minister), is the most emblematic example of the difficulties afflicting Pakistani democracy. In November 2013, former army chief, and gray eminence of Pakistani politics, Ashfaq Pervez Kayani gave way to General Raheel Sharif, who, unlike his predecessors, appears to consider jihadist terrorism, and mainly the Pakistani Taliban, the greatest threat to the country. This change seemed to open the door to greater community of purpose between Pakistani military and civilian circles, and to greater collaboration with the United States in the fight against terrorism in the border areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

From the point of view of domestic politics, Pakistan recorded in May 2013, for the first time in 66 years of history, the historic handover of power between two democratically elected civil governments. The Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), a conservative center-right party, emerged as the winner. Nawaz Sharif, leader of the party and former Prime Minister twice (between November 1990 and July 1993 and between February 1997 and October 1999) therefore began his third term. The PML-N governs with a solid majority in the national assembly, the lower house, where it holds 190 seats out of the 342 available. In the elections for the renewal of a third of the Senate, in March 2015, the PML-N managed to steal many votes from rival PPP, who nevertheless still holds the majority, even if only for one seat.

The institutionalization and sedimentation of democratic political practices is finally severely tested by the instability that characterizes Pakistani society, crossed by profound ethnic-religious conflicts and strongly conditioned by internal political terrorism which, especially in recent years, has not only repeatedly bloodied cities and regions of the country, but has also affected leading political figures: from former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, killed in December 2007 during the electoral campaign, to the governor of the important Punjab region, Salman Taseer, assassinated in January of 2011 for having criticized the blasphemy law, up to the Catholic Shahbaz Bhatti, minister for religious minorities, who fell at the hands of members of fundamentalism in March 2011.

Pakistan Internal Politics