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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ten-year cycles of political change - By Shafqat Ali Shah Jamote

PRESIDENT Musharraf’s resignation marks the end of his rule and the end of an era. His departure on Aug 18, 2008 confirms a puzzling theory that I have been contemplating for some years now as a political scientist: every 10 years there is a major change in the direction of Pakistani politics. The years 1938, 1948, 1958, 1968, 1978, 1988, 1998 and now 2008 are significant starting and ending periods of this change. The number eight seems to occupy a critical position, as do the months of August and October in this matrix.


Also, personalities have dominated most cycles: Jinnah was the dominating figure during the 1938-48 period; Ayub Khan(1958-68); ZA. Bhutto (1968-78); Ziaul Haq (1978-88) and Pervez Musharraf (1998-2008). But during the periods of 1948-58 and 1988-1998, though Liaquat Ali Khan, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif were all well-known leaders of their times, no one leader had a meaningful impact on Pakistan’s political scene. The political process played out until the end of the 10-year cycle. We will have to wait another 10 years to see if history repeats itself once again.


My problem with Jamote's last assessment is: can Pakistan survive this decade of rudderlessness?


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