Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Musharraf loses

The Pakistani elections seem to have turned into the mother of all victories for democracy, with President Musharraf's allies not just being swept from office, but a real chance that an alliance of opposition parties will reach the two-thirds majority necessary to impeach him. And even if they don't, he's just been politically castrated and has already resigned himself to a ceremonial role.

So, there will be change in Pakistan - and change for the better. Musharraf's restrictions on the media and judiciary are likely to be swiftly ended, and the new government is likely to negotiate with the militants in their border region rather than sending the army to wage war in the name of America (it makes sense - they have to live with these people in the long-term, after all). The US is not happy with this, which is why they are already raising doubts about the (no-longer) opposition parties and crying "corruption". But while Pakistan’s new elected rulers may be corrupt and incompetent, they are at least elected, and thus have something that the US's dictator will never have: popular legitimacy.