Before you all get too excited, this does NOT mean that Musharaf is gone from power. The president is elected in a separate election. The parliamentary elections merely mean that his party has pretty much been swept from power. The Associated Free Press has this report:
Results showed a “big gain” for Sharif and Bhutto’s parties, Azeem told AFP, adding: “If the results are confirmed we will play the part of the opposition as effectively as we can.”
High-profile victims who lost their seats included party president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and almost all of Musharraf’s former cabinet, including close presidential ally Sheikh Rashid.
“The results are shocking,” a party official said on condition of anonymity.
State television said Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) had 83 seats, Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-N had 64 seats, with the PML-Q, smaller parties and independents taking the rest, according to preliminary results.
With Musharaff’s Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) and some allies getting about 57 seats, that leaves about 68 seats to be allocated to the “smaller parties and independents” mentioned above.
Basically this means Musharraf is now a toothless president. Without the support of either Bhutto or Sharif’s parties, he will be unable to push any legislation through. It will be interesting to see what effect (if any) this has on the “war on terror”. Pakistan has been involved in its own version in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, and Musharraf has tried to appear keen to crush the “fundamentalist threat”.
One major question we have here at 4080 is why the US is still pledging to work with Musharraf, when it appears clear that the Pakistani voters do not agree. I understand that Pakistan has become a “vital ally” in the “war on terror”, but it does appear as if the US would be working against the very democracy they want to promote.
Still, it’s quite reassuring that for once an election in a developing country seems to have gone the way everyone has predicted. Pakistan has not suffered the same fate as countries like Kenya, and there have been no reports of widespread irregularities. Let’s just hope everyone abides by the decision.