Pakistan After Musharraf: The Burden of History

Issue Date October 2008
Volume 19
Issue 4
Page Numbers 26-31
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The origins, structure and ideology of the Pakistani nationalist movement coupled with critical elite choices made in the early years of the republic in large part explain Pakistan’s current problems of governance. The Pakistani nationalist movement was woven around the charismatic personality of Mohammed Ali Jinnah but lacked a firm organizational and institutional structure. More to the point, it had little or no internal democracy. Not surprisingly, in the aftermath of the creation of Pakistan, the leadership, especially after Jinnah’s early demise, proved singularly incapable of coping with an ethnically and socially diverse state and inept at handling competing demands and priorities. As public order rapidly deteriorated, the military, with the tacit support of the elitist civil service, seized power. Once in power, the military came to relish its privileges and even when it relinquished power it remained primus inter pares. Long periods of military rule led to the steady deterioration of fragile political institutions further undermining the prospects of democracy.