Nawaz Sharif and his Pakistan Muslim League party appear set to win a majority in parliament and form the next government. Daniel Markey, CFR’s senior fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia, highlights three things to know about the historic election:
- Pakistan’s Maturing Democracy: "These elections came at the end of a full term of Pakistan’s civilian government – the first in Pakistan’s history," Markey says. Despite incidents of violence during the campaign and some charges of vote rigging, "many Pakistanis will accept the legitimacy of this process, and see it as a sign that their democracy is maturing."
- New Faces in U.S.-Pakistan Dialogue: "The past several years have been difficult ones for U.S.-Pakistan relations, and it will be nice to have a different set of faces in future negotiations," says Markey. Washington and Islamabad will continue to negotiate issues of "grave concern" to the United States, such as counterterrorism, the use of drones inside Pakistan, and the U.S. "endgame" in Afghanistan, he says.
- Opportunity for Indo-Pakistani Relations: "Nawaz Sharif and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India get along reasonably well," says Markey. The new Pakistani leader appears poised to normalize relations with India and work to break down trade barriers, which "would be a healthy development for regional stability."