Q&A: Shift of power in Pakistan has ripple effect
Tariq Ali, author of The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power, spoke with amNewYork about the situation in Pakistan.
What is the general sentiment in Pakistan now that Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry has been reinstated?
There is a euphoric mood in the country. A massive non-violent movement has succeeded in restoring the chief justice widely regarded as one of the few honest people amongst the top elite in the country.
Has President Asif Ali Zardaris influence been weakened?
Considerably. He is seen by most people as a wooden-headed but greedy politician, by others as a U.S. drone. He was following orders but the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad changed its mind and did a deal with the opposition.
What do this weeks events mean for relations with the United States and the West?
The same day that the chief justice was restored a U.S. drone killed nine people in Pakistan. The U.S. remains deeply unpopular because of the war in Afghanistan. And Obamas election has not made any difference here. So any government that reflects the will of the people has to bear that in mind.Have the people of Pakistan redefined democracy in rallying with former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and getting results?
They rallied behind Sharif only because he demanded the restoration of the chief justice. But that has made the Sharif brothers popular and were there an election today they would probably sweep the polls.
Do you foresee more political conflict in Pakistans immediate future
Yes. The state is decaying internally. And externally the war in Afghanistan is spilling into Pakistan.
What would a change in leadership mean for the Taliban-heavy regions, like Swat Valley?
The Pakistan version of the Taliban can only be dealt with by a government that is seen as independent of the United States and that begins to implement a series of social reforms inside the country: free education, healthcare, subsidized dwellings, food subsidies. Crucial to weaken religious extremism.