Pakistan’s game of thrones
Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification as Pakistan’s prime minister by the country’s highest court of law is just the latest episode in the drama and subterfuge that has come to be associated with this post. Pakistan was born a democracy, but has had a rocky relationship with this form of government. In its 70 years, a prime minister has helmed it for the equivalent of 44 years; the remaining 26 have been army ruled. And that’s just the beginning of the prime ministerial upheavals that have beset Pakistan.
Not one of the 27 prime ministers—that’s an average of a new one every 20 months—has completed a full term. Only one government has completed a full term, but ran through four prime ministers doing so. Otherwise, the tenure has ranged from four days (Ayub Khan) to 1,547 days (Yousaf Raza Gilani).
Their reasons for removal have been just as dramatic and diverse. Ayub Khan staged a coup against his own president, and replaced him. And Nawaz Sharif has been dismissed by the army, the president and, now, the judiciary over the course of his four stints as prime minister (or three stints, if you don’t count the short period in his first term after his government was dissolved but before the Supreme Court reinstated it; Sharif was forced to step down shortly afterwards).
The silver lining, if we can call it that, is that this is the first decade the army has not taken over overtly and the prime minister turnover is the lowest. This is happening in the backdrop of the Kerry-Lugar Bill in 2009, which placed several conditions, including reining in the army’s role in governance, in order for Pakistan to qualify for increased US non-military aid.
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