Pakistan – Hope in a fractured land

from The Economist..

May 18, 2013

Building a normal relationship with India should be Nawaz Sharif’s priority.

AMID some tough competition, Pakistan has a reasonable claim to the title of World’s Most Dangerous Nation. It has nuclear weapons, a large contingent of fundamentalists bent on wreaking chaos beyond its borders, a simmering conflict with the big power next door and a long history of unstable governments. The atomic armoury is there to stay; but, after an election on May 11th which propelled Nawaz Sharif to power for the third time (see article), there are good reasons to believe that the place may get stabler, calmer and more prosperous.

Given Mr Sharif’s record, such optimism may seem odd. He was a dreadful prime minister in the 1990s—vengeful and autocratic, subverting the judiciary and undermining the press. Nobody was surprised when he fell victim to a coup led by the then General Pervez Musharraf; hardly anybody regretted Mr Sharif’s departure.

But even politicians can change for the better, and while in opposition Mr Sharif has shown himself willing to put country above self.

…….

That Mr Sharif is a successful businessman is probably good news. Militants aside, his party has done a pretty good job of running Punjab, and he understands Pakistan’s desperate need for electricity and roads. So long as his interest in money does not encourage him to pilfer the nation’s wealth, his competence should help it prosper. The markets evidently think so: share prices leapt when he won.

…….

But it is how things go with India that will do most to shape Pakistan’s future. That toxic relationship is behind most of Pakistan’s problems: the army’s dominance, the soldiers’ habit of ousting civilian governments, the imbalance between military and civilian spending, the terrorist groups spawned to attack India that have come back to bite Pakistan…

Link to the entire article:  http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21578059-building-normal-relationship-india-should-be-nawaz-sharifs-priority-hope-fractured

 

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