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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Pakistan Elections: Nicholas Schmidle

Nicholas Schmidle, a reporter who spent two years in Pakistan, whose articles I linked here, was expelled in January, 2008. He has written this excellent coverage of the Pakistani elections which has this classic ending - "Monday's election reminded observers that, besides being considered the "world's most dangerous country," Pakistan could also be described as the world's most unpredictable country. It remains to be seen how long it can ride this wave of good news."

Musharraf Powerless, Islamists DefeatedWhat happened in the Pakistani elections?
By Nicholas Schmidle
Pervez Musharraf. Click image to expand.

Heading into Monday's parliamentary elections, Pakistan desperately needed good news. Bombs, protests, and President Pervez Musharraf's authoritarian impulses have made almost daily headlines and created the impression of a country spiraling toward chaos. Last year, Islamic militants detonated, on average, one suicide bomb per week in Pakistan, including the attack that killed more than 140 people at Benazir Bhutto's homecoming in October and the one that assassinated her in December. As the pro-Taliban insurgency gathered strength this winter, a bloody Election Day seemed inevitable. But Monday's poll results, while consistent with Pakistan's recent history in their pure unpredictability, finally gave people a taste of good news. Besides being largely free of violence (two dozen died in isolated skirmishes, but suicide bombers stayed away), voters rejected the two players in Pakistani politics that scare—and confuse—Americans most: Musharraf and the Islamists.


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