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Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan: A New Age Dawns or More of the Same?


Nawaz Sharif is back. And back with a big enough chunk of parliament that he won’t have to form a coalition government. After a record number of Pakistanis showed up at the polls and dumped the delinquent Pakistan People’s Party out of power, many Pakistanis have rejoiced with hope that their country is on the brink of a new period of prosperity.

We don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade but we don’t share that optimism. Not so long ago Nawaz Sharif wasn’t much more than a corrupt thief, like many of his colleagues in the Pakistani civilian political elite. He and his party have visible links to some very nasty groups of sectarian militants, especially in the Punjab, a PML-N stronghold. Pakistan’s deep state, where the real power lies, doesn’t seem likely to let Sharif do more with his time in office than take the blame for the government’s inevitable failures and economic setbacks.

Sharif will get blamed for all the potholes on Pakistan’s terrible streets, all the hours when the electricity isn’t running, all the schools that aren’t open and all the jobs that aren’t being created. And as ever, the parliamentary majority is for sale and doesn’t represent a coherent political force, except when it comes to fighting for spoils and graft.

Pakistan is on the brink of a new era but only in the sense that one group of corrupt politicians have been dumped out of office in exchange for another group of equally corrupt civilians. The country still faces the same problems it faced five years ago and will likely face five years from today.

[Photo of Sharif supporters, courtesy Getty Images]

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  • bigfire

    I have zero expectation that things will improved there. So as long as ISI is still running the things, nothing will change.

  • wigwag

    Vali Nasr in his new book, “The Dispensible Nation: American Foreign Policy in Retreat” excoriates his former colleagues in the Obama Administration for giving up on Pakistan. He acknowledges how troublesome Pakistan is, but he says that the Administration’s decision to throw up its hands in disgust is a strategic error that is likely to have profoundly negative results in the long run. Nasr claims that he and his old boss, the late Ambassador Holbrooke were beginning to make some progress in Pakistan that the foreign policy neophytes working in the Obama White House short circuited.

    Hearing Professor Mead’s take on Nasr’s allegations about the Obama Administration and Pakistani imbroglio would be very interesting.

  • Anthony

    Pakistan remains problematic both domestically and viewed through foreign policy lens; yet, one must acknowledge that Pakistanis voted for a democratic transition fron one civiluan government to another (1st since creation in 1947). Still, societies are patterned on instutional structures composing its framework (inclusive or exclusive) and Pakistan’s institutional arrangements (Military/ISI) have change little with Sharif’s election – but this is a third opportunity for Nawaz Sharif….

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