Washington, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)–March 21, 2013. This past week, for the first time in its history, Pakistan’s democratically elected government completed its entire term and is now expected to transfer power to another democratically elected government. Today the Center for American Progress released “Previewing Pakistan’s 2013 Elections,” a comprehensive source of information on the principal points of competition in the pre-election period and a look ahead to the May polls. This report assesses an ongoing decentralization of power in Pakistan’s political system over the past five years, detailing the country’s major political parties, emergent political movements, activist judiciary, and the evolving role of the military in the political transition.
Pakistan’s more decentralized post-2008 political system has forced the prioritization of consensus policies on many issues, and may prove more democratic in its ability to accommodate diverse elected and unelected interest groups. But the system has also been divided and slow to respond to militant separatism and terrorist violence, economic stagnation, and tense relations with regional neighbors and international partners, among other considerable challenges facing the country.
Even as the United States realigns its military investments in neighboring Afghanistan over the coming years, Pakistan will remain an important concern for U.S. statecraft, for reasons beyond counterterrorism. Pakistan is a nuclear-armed state with a growing population of approximately 190 million people, strategically located between the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf—sharing borders with Iran, India, and China. Pakistan’s responses to its many internal political, economic, and security challenges will have a major impact on the South Asia region and beyond.
Understanding the complex internal dynamics of Pakistan—including a broad range of Pakistani political actors—in order to build partnerships will be a requirement for effective U.S. engagement with Pakistan over the coming years. Ultimately, the objective of U.S. policy toward Pakistan should be to work with—not attempt to control—Pakistan’s internal processes. Only Pakistanis themselves are capable of establishing a more stable, democratic system that balances diverse interest groups and effectively addresses the country’s challenges.
Read the full report here.