WASHINGTON: The United States should work with — not attempt to control — Pakistan’s internal political processes, says a new US report released on Wednesday.
The — “Previewing Pakistan’s 2013 Elections” — also warns that whoever wins the next elections should try to resolve the problems the country faces or be prepared to face accountability.
“Only Pakistanis themselves are capable of establishing a more stable, democratic system capable of balancing diverse interest groups and effectively addressing the country’s challenges,” says author Colin Cookman who wrote this report for a Washington think tank, Centre for American Progress. The report points out that as Pakistan’s political and economic structures shift to lower the barriers for entry, multiple political actors compete to establish the rules of the game.
While “a powerful military with a history of interventionism still waits in the wings, the future course of Pakistan’s political system is highly uncertain,” it warns.
The report notes that US efforts in past decades to advance its interests in Pakistan “through direct contact with favoured military or political elite partners have proven unsustainable, and attempts to repeat such practices are likely to become more unworkable as the system shifts towards greater multi-polarity, at least for the near term.”
Reviewing the last five years of democratic rule, the author notes that Pakistan’s more decentralised post-2008 political system has forced the prioritisation of consensus policies on many issues, and may prove more democratic in its ability to accommodate diverse elected and unelected interest groups. The author also argues that the system has been slow to respond to militant separatism, terrorist violence and economic stagnation and failed system also failed to ease tense relations with regional neighbours and international partners. “Whichever coalition of political leaders finds itself in power after elections this summer will face accountability for inaction on these issues, which cannot be deferred indefinitely,” the report warns.
It encourages the US to make efforts to support Pakistan’s democratic evolution and the success of its upcoming elections. Such efforts should include a public commitment to neutrality and respect for the electoral processes, coupled with support for an international observation mission.
It also urges US diplomatic and military officials to continue to engage with a broad array of Pakistani civilian leaders and military officials, while making it clear that the United States “does not favour any specific electoral outcome and strongly opposes any disruption of the constitutional process or intervention during the caretaker period”.