Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Bhutto Chances? Not Good

The Nation has a decent article on Benazir Bhutto’s prospects as future Prime Minister of Pakistan. The ground realities have changed significantly in the eight years Bhutto has been living in exile. For one thing, Bhutto is willing to cut a deal with Musharraf in order to be Prime Minister.
In return the PPP has abandoned an alliance of parties opposed to the army's involvement in politics and will back Musharraf as civilian president. Bhutto has also quietly accepted a future dispensation in which he and the army will retain control over national security, foreign relations and the US war in Afghanistan. Depending on how well the PPP performs in elections, Bhutto will make domestic policy.
Even on the face of it, it's an unworkable solution. Forget about politics, for the moment; if Bhutto is to transform Pakistani society, as the article claims, she will need to marshall substantially more resources to accomplish it. Given that the military (or debt repayment) garners the lion's share of the budget, Bhutto will either have to find new revenue sources, or tell the military to do more with less. And the military is adamant about keeping present force levels even though Pakistan possesses a sizable nuclear arsenal. This conflict with the military has been a source of tension for Bhutto before, and there’s a good chance it will be so again.

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