Pakistan: Transition to What?

An article by Teresita C. Schaffer on the run-up to the 2008 parliamentary elections in Pakistan in light of the events of 2007, including President Pervez Musharraf’s retirement from the army and the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Pakistan needs a government that will undertake the long and difficult task of building up Pakistan’s institutions, countering its domestic extremists, and managing the tangled relationships with Pakistan’s neighbours. The first requirement for such a government is legitimacy. Both for Pakistan’s future and for Western policy interests, this is the time to put legitimacy first.

Originally published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies in the February-March 2008 issue of Survival. Read the entire article.

Back and Forth in Bangladesh

An article written by Howard B. Schaffer on the October 2001 parliamentary elections in Bangladesh.

On 1 October 2001 Bangladeshis went to the polls to elect the country’s eighth postindependence National Parliament (Jatiya Sangsad). In the third contested race under the democratic political system established in 1990 with the overthrow of General H.M. Ershad’s authoritarian, army-led regime, voters once again turned out in large numbers after a bitter campaign marred by violence. Women, who in Muslim Bangladesh vote at separate polling stations, were prominent among them. Many waited for hours in the hot sun dressed in their best saris to mark and cast their paper ballots. Overall, some 75 percent of registered voters turned out, about the same proportion as in the last general election, which was held in 1996. Despite dire forecasts of further violent clashes and predictions of large-scale electoral malpractice, a peaceful atmosphere generally prevailed on election day in the cities as well as in the countryside, where most Bangladeshis live. The 50,000 troops deployed on election duty helped ensure this, as did the zealous work of the country’s nonpartisan Election Commission, which is directly responsible for running an operation involving almost 60 million voters.

Originally published by the Johns Hopkins University Press in the January 2002 issue of the Journal of Democracy.

Howard B. Schaffer

Howard B. Schaffer is a retired American Foreign Service officer who spent much of his 36-year career dealing with U.S. relations with South Asia. He is an adjunct professor at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.  He previously served as ambassador to Bangladesh (1984-87), political counselor at American embassies in India (1977-79) and Pakistan (1974-77), and was twice deputy assistant secretary of state responsible for South Asian affairs. His earlier assignments included stints as director of the Office of Indian, Nepalese, and Sri Lankan Affairs and postings to New Delhi, Seoul, and Kuala Lumpur. He retired from the Foreign Service in 1991 and returned in 1995 to Washington from Sri Lanka, where his wife, Teresita C. Schaffer, was American ambassador. From 1996-2011 he was at Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy. Continue reading “Howard B. Schaffer”