it’s heartening that the 2008 parliamentary elections were relatively clean, based both on reports by local and foreign observers. no massive rigging and a turnout of 45% – which is impressive considering recent bombings and political assassinations.
what this proves is that the people of pakistan are smart and secular. 61% of the seats were won by secular parties (bhutto’s pakistan people’s party, nawaz sharif’s pakistan muslim league and the northern frontier’s awami national party), only 3% of the vote went to religious parties.
in pakistan’s civil society, there is a real desire for democracy and for negotiated political settlement to end terrorism and militancy. people know that military force is not the answer. political parties want to engage militants and bring them into a participatory democratic process. The question is, will the u.s. government allow this democratic process to flourish or will it continue to work with the pakistan army behind the public’s back and sabotage any long term solutions to the crisis it helped create.