Pakistan's Trust Deficit

Commentary | September 23, 2010

Writing for The News, EWI Director Ikram Sehgal gives an inside perspective on the rising distrust of Pakistan’s government, which has occupied the national conversation.

“No one seemed sure about how trust in governance could be restored in Pakistan, only that anything, or anyone, would be better than our present rulers,” writes Sehgal of recent discussions.

Exploring possible avenues for change, Sehgal considers the army, whose image has been bolstered by its response to the recent floods. Although Pakistanis widely oppose martial law, many are resigned to it as a last resort against total anarchy, Sehgal observes. And while Army Chief Kayani apparently has no ambition to grab political power, “stranger things have happened.”  

Taking stock of the country’s political dysfunction, Sehgal writes about the perceived corruption of President Zardari’s government and the concern that the Supreme Court may be unable to administer rule of law, particularly in tumultuous regions like Balochistan, which was swamped by diverted flood waters. Remarking on the possible reemergence of unpopular former president Pervez Musharraf, Sehgal predicts that Zardari “may possibly suffer the same fate as the person he deposed, someone who now fancies himself as the ‘Comeback Kid.’”

For Sehgal, the only hope for constructive change lies in principled bureaucratic officers at the lower end of the political spectrum. If there is no change within the system, Sehgal warns, the result will be anarchy.

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