Sunday, November 04, 2007
Emergency Rule in Pakistan: Shades of Indira?
An interesting prediction, then: when Gandhi lifted the Emergency in 1977, she thought she was going to sweep parliamentary elections because there had been economic growth and stability; instead, the opposition managed to finally unite and swept the vote. So it may be that the impact of this emergency in Pakistan will be to finally get a fractious and divided opposition to work together. Again, however, the experience in India in the late 1970s showed that over time a religious conservative and a secular socialist coalition could not endure in government--again possible lessons for Pakistan.
All of this to suggest that what we are seeing unfolding in Pakistan is part and parcel of larger South Asian political difficulties.
One more difference: Indira Gandhi was actually elected to power; Musharraf only elected himself. Indira Gandhi declared emergency in a functioning democracy. Musharraf imposed martial law in a dictatorship.
As a previous commenter pointed out, the political histories of the two countries are important when it comes to assessing how the emergency might end. In India Indira Gandhi was compelled to hold elections. In Pakistan, there's no such compulsion at work.
James Joyner compares the situation to that of the Shah of Iran in the 1970's. I think, in relation to our interests in the country and international relations with it, this is an excellent analogy.
That scenario ended quite badly. In my opinion, the odds of ending up in that endgame have risen and will continue to rise unless and until the US makes a drastic break with recent policy.
The lesson of Iran is that the day after the overthrow is far too late to acquire relationships with and leverage over the successors. I, for one, think there's no better option than to force the regime to change its behavior, with pressure no less than what we're applying to modern Iranians.
The current regime seems to have no chance whatsoever of arresting the country's decline.