Washington, Feb.20 : Pakistan faces governmental instability following parliamentary elections, as the leading opposition parties face a decision on whether to impeach President Pervez Musharraf, claims Frederic Grare, a South Asia expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Grare regards the election not as an anti-American vote but rather driven by opposition to Musharraf, and he expects the civilians winners will try to establish good relations with Washington.
"We are probably in for a long period of governmental instability. Clearly the interests of the leading opposition parties, the PPP [Pakistan People's Party] and the PML-N. If they get a sizeable majority, which is not completely clear yet, they can either decide to impeach Musharraf, and the temptation will probably be there to do so, helped by pressure from the grassroots as well. If they do so, they will eventually face off against each other and then we don't know what will happen. If they don't, then there is a possibility that Musharraf plays their own division against each other. So we're basically in for a period of governmental instability," he says during a question and answer session on behalf of the think tank.
Grare also said that he believes that the Pakistan Army still has a major role to play in in Pakistan politics, even if Musharraf himself has been rejected.
"Indeed, the army as an instrument is still there. To some degree, the real commitment of Pakistan in the war on terror will remain unchanged. And the support the United States was seeking before will be there. Now eventually the civilian leadership could help mobilize the population in the war on terror, which is something that Musharraf never did in the past," he says.
On whether Musharraf would resign in the near future, he said: "That would make a lot of sense, but I'm not sure Musharraf will simply agree to go. Pushed to the wall, he usually reacts violently, and if you look at the past few months, it would probably take a lot of persuasion to make sure that he goes peacefully."
He also opined that that Makhdoom Amin Fahim of the PPP is in all probability going to be the next Prime Minister of Pakistan.
"Let's wait until we have the final result. That will show the real balance of power among the various political parties. The National Assembly is one element of it. But the strengths within the provincial assemblies are also an important factor in the whole thing," Grare said.
On what Sharif's role would be in the emerging political equation in Pakistan, Grare said:"Sharif understood very clearly that any criticism of the military's alliance with the United States could make him popular. So he played the exact opposite card than Benazir Bhutto, and decided to go against the United States and against the establishment, and it paid off. Look where the PML-N was just a few months ago and where the PML-N is now."
Asked what would be his advise to Washington now, he said it would take into account the results and see what its best interests are.
Admitting that the US would be all praise for the way the elections in Pakistan have been conducted, he said he did not feel Washington would see the voting pattern as a setback to American policy in Pakistan.
"This is not an anti-U.S. vote, this is an anti-Musharraf vote. But by extension, there is a U.S. component as well," he opined.