Pakistan Political Stability
Since March 2007, tensions in Pakistan have been rising: the political instability surrounding both the presidential and parliamentary elections is commingling with the increase in militant activity within Pakistan proper, which led to around 60 suicide attacks in Pakistan in 2007. Following Benazir Bhutto's assassination on December 27, the extremists have upped the ante, perhaps hoping to disrupt the February 18 elections. Is Pakistan becoming the world's "most dangerous nation"?
Since gaining independence in 1947, Pakistan has veered back and forth between democratically-elected and authoritarian military leaders, coupled with an unstable relationship with neighboring India and Bangladesh
Over the past eight years, President Musharraf has done many good things for Pakistan, most notably building a relatively stable and fast-growing economy (GDP growth in 2006 was 6.5%). However, he has made no effort to create independent institutions, improve the provision of education and other social services, or establish local governance systems and networks. The situation has worsened significantly over the past year: the judiciary is now thoroughly politicized, the media is restricted by a "code of conduct", and the interim government is biased. Meanwhile, Musharraf's approval ratings have almost halved from 51% in late 2006 to 28% in early January 2008. Musharraf continues to prioritize his own political survival; however, he is no longer trusted by either the Pakistani people or the international community, leaving him in an untenable situation.
The recent deterioration of Pakistan's political situation has been driven by the following events:
* In March 2007, Musharraf suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry for misconduct, triggering a public outcry. Four months later, Chaudhry was reinstated in a ruling by his own Supreme Court; however, the incident sparked an enormous grassroots...