After Pakistan’s Supreme Court barred opposition leader Nawaz Sharif and his brother, Shahbaz, from holding public office on Wednesday, protests broke out across the country.
Sharif, of the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) Party, blames Pakistani president and longtime rival Asif Ali Zardari for the decision. Sharif quit the coalition government in August of last year.
Sharif’s supporters have taken to the streets against Zardari’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) — a sign of political instability and distraction even as the country deals with terrorism and the economic crisis.
For more on Sharif’s position and Pakistan’s political maneuvering, see PBS Wide Angle’s interview with Pakistan expert Daniel Markey.
Blogger Shaheryar Azhar at “All Things Pakistan” worries for Pakistan’s political future:
All those who have supported one position or the other, instead of the compromise, are also guilty. This is a collective failure on our part, not just of the political players. Pakistan is straight heading for a train wreck and the biggest losers will be the (divided) civil society and democratic forces notwithstanding their heroic 60-year struggle.
Blogger Arif Rafiq of the “Pakistan Policy Blog” argues that Zardari is to blame:
Politically, the Sharifs and their faction of the Muslim League (PML-N) — Pakistan’s second largest party — are isolated. Their major allies are those outside of parliament […] However, there is a huge disparity between the Zardari’s political security and popular opinion toward him. Simply put, Zardari is hated inside Pakistan, particularly in Punjab. This has always been the case, except for the burst of sympathy after his wife’s murder. Public goodwill toward Zardari dissipated by the following summer when he violated a series of popular agreements with Nawaz. Subsequently, Zardari made a power grab and took the presidency.
[…]So the big question are: How long can the contradictions between Zardari’s political strength and massive unpopularity last? And can Pakistan achieve political stability with its second largest party shut out of the corridors of power?
A commenter at “ProPakistan” writes that s/he has stopped supporting Zardari, though once a supporter of the PPP:
I, and my family WERE strictly PPP supporters since my grand fathers time. […] [Zardari] should have definitely not done this, as the coalition govt was a good sign of democracy in Pakistan, and PPP still had the main parts of the govt power anyway, and they should have been already satisfied with that.