Islamabad/London: Experts have said that the Pakistan government faces the threat of a political unrest or even military takeover following its shoddy response to the humanitarian and economic disaster caused by the worst floods in the country’s history.
Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, who left the country after the floods began and continued on his trip to France and Britain even when the scale of the disaster became apparent, is the focus of much of the anger.
Despite the outcry, he is again scheduled to go ahead with a visit to a regional summit in Russia next week, which have fuelled reports that he could be overthrown, possibly through an intervention by the army.
“The powers that be, that is the military and bureaucratic establishment, are mulling the formation of a national government, with or without the PPP [the ruling Pakistan People’s party],” The Guardian quoted Najam Sethi, a prominent Pakistani journalist, as saying.
“I know this is definitely being discussed. There is a perception in the army that you need good governance to get out of the economic crisis and there is no good governance,” he added.
He further said that though only the courts could legally dismiss Zardari, but as the present government is one reliant on coalition partners, behind-the-scenes military pressure on those partners could bring it down.
Asad Sayeed, an analyst based in Karachi, supports the claim and said that at the moment, Pakistan is “a very divided country”.
“If the military takes over now, I can assure you that it will be the end of Pakistan, an end which will be punctuated by a very bloody civil war,” Sayeed said.
Meanwhile, a US official believes that the potential for serious turmoil would grow after the floods subside.
“The Pakistani military quickly mobilized to support relief efforts in areas affected by the floods, and ... seems to be handling things effectively,” the official said.
“The popular ire so far seems directed at the (government). As with any natural disaster, the reconstruction phase can be a challenge, and that’s when Pakistan’s civilian agencies will need to step up to the plate. That’ll be the real test,” he added.
However, another US official downplayed the threat, and dismissed the danger of a coup saying that the Army Chief General Ashfaq Kayani wants the military out of politics.
“The military is perfectly happy to let the civilian government screw up. The military does not want to take over because they get blamed for all the deficiencies in government,” the official said.
The UN has said that the floods have affected 15 million people, with the death toll put at around 1,600 by the provincial government.