For all the dire warnings about rigging and violence, elections in Pakistan turned out to be a tame affair. If they signal a return to to democracy, they also point to difficulties ahead.
To begin with, the common front between the two main parties, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) (PML-N), may dissolve. Now that a common enemy, President Pervez Musharraf, has been defeated and the loaves of office are within reach, bickering between the two parties is likely and it will not be surprising if this happens. It would be bad news for Pakistan as a country, though. In the past, such bickering has provided political space for the military to intervene.
Given the challenges that Pakistan faces, from a violent insurgency on its western border to lawlessness in Balochistan and other parts of the country, political cooperation among parties is the need of the hour. Hopefully, Pakistan’s political class realizes that.