Parliamentary Maneuvering in Pakistan
It is being speculated in the Pakistani press that the Muslim League (QA) may be able to form a government if it allies with absolutely all of the small parties and independent members of parliament. It could cobble together a majority of seats, and would benefit from the plan to add women’s slots proportionally, bringing the total to 190.
This move would allow the Muslim League (QA) to avoid an alliance with its rival, the Pakistan People’s Party, or with the MMA, the coalition of fundamentalist religious parties.
While the mathematics may barely work out for the ML (QA), the resulting government would be extremely fragile. It would also be open to blackmail on the part of the tiny parties and even perhaps some individual members of parliament, since it would need virtually all its myriad partners for every important vote.
It seems to me likely that such a government would fall before too long, requiring another round of elections. This further round may or may not produce a more stable government. Were it to be called at a time, this winter, when the US had gone to war against Iraq, one can only imagine that the fundamentalist parties might just manage to win a majority of votes and take over the civilian government. This development in turn would almost certainly provoke another military coup to prevent it from happening. The secular-leaning Musharraf, now an American ally, would be at severe risk from an MMA government, and he would not likely take the risk.
Forecast: Continued political instability in Pakistan, raising real questions about the further prosecution of the War on Terror.