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Saturday, 16 November, 2002, 11:22 GMT
Has democracy returned to Pakistan?
Pakistan's National Assembly building in Islamabad
The new Parliament has finally opened


Pakistan's 342-member National Assembly has finally met, for the first time in more than three years.

This in theory, marks the completion of the transition from direct military rule to democracy.

In 54 years of its existence, Pakistan has not been able to find a workable model of democracy

President Pervez Musharraf would like the world to believe that he has fulfilled his promise to restore democracy in Pakistan.

But a serious debate is still raging on the true state of democracy in Pakistan.

Nearly half of the elected MPs have refused to accept the amendments made by General Musharraf in the constitution and they are not prepared to accept him as the country's president as long as he is also the chief of the army.

Military intervention

Most of these members belong to the party of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and the alliance of religious parties.

In their view the latest move can best be described as a transition from direct military rule to a new system of military-controlled democracy.

President Pervez Musharraf
Musharraf is accused of introducing 'controlled 'democracy
But an equally strong argument is being presented by the MPs who belong to the pro-Musharraf parties.

They say it is the best way to ensure a smooth transfer of power from the country's powerful military to a civilian government.

It seems the debate over the true status and the sovereignty of the newly elected parliament may go on for quite some time .

And if it is not handled with care, analysts believe the military may once again get the excuse to intervene.

In 54 years of its existence, Pakistan has not been able to find a workable model of democracy.

There have been repeated interventions by the military and not even once there has been a smooth transfer of power from one elected government to another.

And as the newly elected parliament meets after three years of military rule, no-one can say with authority if it will be able to complete its full term of five years.

Musharraf's Pakistan

Democracy challenge

Militant threat

Background

TALKING POINT

FROM THE ARCHIVES

BBC WORLD SERVICE
See also:

06 Nov 02 | South Asia
04 Nov 02 | South Asia
02 Nov 02 | South Asia
29 Oct 02 | South Asia
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