The Return of Zardari and Challenges to Regional Stability in Pakistan

Published: 10 March 2024
ইমরান চৌধুরী

Imran Chowdhury BEM

An Internationally renowned Geo-Political Analyst

The recent reinstatement of Asif Ali Zardari as President of Pakistan has sparked widespread concern domestically and internationally. Zardari, infamous for allegations of corruption and dishonesty, has once again ascended to power, marking a troubling development in Pakistan’s volatile political sphere.

Pakistan has a history marked by political instability, military interventions, and corrupt leadership, with Zardari’s resurgence serving as a stark reminder of this tumultuous past. From 2008 to 2013, his previous presidency was riddled with scandals and accusations of financial misconduct, tarnishing the country’s democratic institutions and governance.

Zardari’s return comes at a time when Pakistan grapples with numerous challenges, including widespread poverty, soaring inflation, and sectarian violence. The economy is in disarray, with high unemployment rates and inadequate public services exacerbating the plight of ordinary citizens. Additionally, the looming threats of terrorism and religious extremism further destabilise the region.

Many critics view Zardari’s reinstatement as indicative of the military’s influence in Pakistani politics, raising questions about the country’s state of democracy. Concerns exist that the military orchestrated Zardari’s return to further its agenda, undermining civilian leadership and democratic processes.
Zardari’s past behaviour and anti-Indian rhetoric also contribute to apprehensions about his return to power. He exacerbated tensions with India during his previous tenure, risking regional stability. His resurgence could further strain relations between the two nuclear-armed nations, escalating the risk of conflict.

The international community closely monitors Pakistan’s political developments, particularly given its status as a nuclear-armed state. The prospect of further instability in Pakistan poses grave regional and global stability risks.
Addressing Pakistan’s challenges requires decisive action to combat corruption and promote genuine reform. Reinstating divisive figures like Zardari only exacerbates existing issues, fueling despair among the populace. Pakistan must prioritise transparency and accountability to pave the way for stability and prosperity.
The path forward for Pakistan is uncertain, but it is imperative to enact meaningful change to avert further chaos and mitigate the risks posed by its political instability.

Pakistan’s Political Landscape and the Role of the Military
Since its inception, Pakistan’s political landscape has been heavily influenced by the military, with frequent interventions disrupting civilian governance. Military coups, such as the one led by General Ayub Khan in 1958, have been justified by claims of rampant corruption and inefficiency within civilian administrations.

General Zia-ul-Haq’s authoritarian regime in the 1980s further entrenched the military’s dominance, leading to a deterioration of democratic institutions and widespread human rights abuses. Despite brief periods of civilian rule, military interventions have remained a recurring feature of Pakistani politics.

Even during civilian administrations, the military, often called the “deep state,” wields considerable influence behind the scenes, shaping national policies to align with its strategic interests. Asif Ali Zardari’s reinstatement as president raises concerns about the military’s continued role in Pakistani politics, with many viewing it as a calculated move to maintain power.

The military’s dominance presents a significant obstacle to Pakistan’s democratic aspirations and stability. Without genuine efforts to strengthen democratic institutions and promote accountability, the country risks perpetuating a cycle of instability and authoritarianism.
Both domestic and international actors must prioritise Pakistan’s long-term interests over personal agendas, supporting efforts to foster democratic governance and uphold the rule of law. Through concerted action, Pakistan can overcome its political challenges and realise its potential as a stable and prosperous nation.