Just one day after top Pakistani officials ruled out ever giving in to the “unconstitutional” demands of tens of thousands of protesters in Islamabad, the government has announced a deal in which it has effectively given the protesters everything they demanded.
Under the deal, the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has agreed to dissolve parliament no later than March 16, setting the stage for elections within 30 days of its dissolution. Democratic reforms have been agreed to, and the government will negotiate with protest leaders on the makeup of the election commission beforehand.
The agreement also includes a deal for protest leaders to pick a “caretaker prime minister” to replace Raja Ashraf, who the Supreme Court has ordered arrested for his role in a major corruption scandal, and a pledge by the government not to take any revenge against anyone involved in the demonstrations.
The protests have ended with the agreement to the deal, and Muslim Cleric Tahir ul-Qadri, the main organizer, has left Islamabad, urging celebrating remnants of the rallies to “go home as peacefully as you came here.”
One thought on “Pakistan Gives in to Protesters, Agrees to Early Elections”
This is a very strange assessment of what happened in Pakistan. The demands of the protestors were clearly not met since they originally wanted an immediate dissolution of the current government, an overhaul of the election commission and a postponement of the elections (along with "revolution" and an "end to corruption" and the solving of every single problem that Pakistan faces). The protestors, actually, had to give in to the government's position and accept elections under the current framework. The compromise does not promise anything that the ruling and opposition parties (PPP, PML-N, etc.) did not say they were already going to do and what is constitutionally mandated. I admit it is difficult to judge what is happening because so much of it is behind the scenes conspiring my military intelligence and people making estimated guesses, based on past history and experience, what those conspiracies are. Rumours in Pakistan claimed the military was going to use Mr. Qadri's protest to bring into power an interim government of its own liking with a technocrat for a Prime Minister and then postpone elections through the courts for national security reasons. In any case, a good source for information on Pakistan is of course, http://www.dawn.com, Pakistan's leading and most reliable English language newspaper. A quick survey of it will reveal that the Pakistani public considers the resolution of this event to have been a victory for the democratic parties and the democratic system.
In short, not all protests are organic, indigenous developments of people's desires. And in this case the original demands of the protestors were, in fact, unconstitutional. The elected Pakistani government managed to survive a crisis which could have led to further military control of the state.
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