Pakistan's Parliamentary Elections: National and Global Implications

Left to right: Craig Cohen, Mahnaz Ispahani, Aqil Shah (Azadeh Fartash/Asia Society)

NEW YORK, Feb. 22, 2008 - Pakistan's February 18 parliamentary elections dealt a severe blow to President Musharraf and his PML-Q party, and have been hailed as a reflection of the will of the people. Despite fears to the contrary, the elections proceeded with relatively minimal violence and rigging.

In partnership with South Asian Journalists Association (SAJA), the Asia Society hosted a panel to shed light on the implications of these groundbreaking elections for both Pakistan and the international community. Assessing both the domestic and international forces at play, the panel weighed in on the prospects of a sustainable governing coalition's emerging from the election, as well as the restoration of an independent judiciary.

The speakers discussed the newfound legitimacy conferred on the government through these elections, with Aqil Shah of the University of Chicago suggesting that a window of opportunity currently exists for a transition to a more democratic, civilian government. Speaking from Pakistan, Ijaz Gilani of Gallup Pakistan offered first-hand analysis of the polling results of the election, while Craig Cohen of CSIS outlined the implications for the US and its strategic interests in Pakistan.

Craig Cohen, Deputy Chief of Staff, CSIS, Washington, DC, and Fellow in its Post-Conflict Reconstruction Project
Ijaz Gilani, Chairman of Gallup Pakistan, an Islamabad-based polling and research firm (via teleconference)
Aqil Shah, Visiting Scholar, University of Chicago

Mahnaz Ispahani, independent scholar and consultant; Former Senior Fellow for South Asia, Council on Foreign Relations

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