Democ­racy in ac­tion

The Pak Banker - - 4EDITORIAL - Javid Hu­sain

MY cur­rent visit to the US has once again ex­posed me to the grand spec­ta­cle of pri­maries through which the Repub­li­cans and the Democrats, the two ma­jor Amer­i­can political par­ties, nom­i­nate their can­di­dates for the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. This process, which in­volves elec­tions and cau­cuses by reg­is­tered mem­bers of the two political par­ties in 50 states, Wash­ing­ton, D.C. and US ter­ri­to­ries to nom­i­nate the re­spec­tive party pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates, is noth­ing less than democ­racy in ac­tion.

The pri­mary sea­son this year started at the be­gin­ning of Fe­bru­ary and is likely to last till the middle of June when the last Demo­cratic pri­mary would be held in Wash­ing­ton. D.C. The last round of Repub­li­can pri­maries would be held on 7 June in Cal­i­for­nia, Mon­tana, New Jersey, New Mex­ico and South Dakota. The pri­maries and cau­cuses would lead to the Na­tional Con­ven­tions of the two par­ties in July. The Re­pub­li­ca­tion Na­tional Con­ven­tion would be held from 18-21 July in Cleve­land where 1237 del­e­gates out of a to­tal of 2472 del­e­gates would nom­i­nate the Repub­li­can Party can­di­date for the US pres­i­den­tial elec­tions to be held on 8 Novem­ber this year. In the case of Democrats, the de­ci­sion would be taken by 2383 del­e­gates out of a to­tal of 4764 del­e­gates at the Con­ven­tion to be held in Philadel­phia from 25-27 July, 2016.

On the side of the Democrats, Hil­lary Clin­ton, for­mer Sec­re­tary of State un­der the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, is the front run­ner in the race for nom­i­na­tion as a pres­i­den­tial can­di­date al­though Sen­a­tor Bernie San­ders, the ri­val can­di­date, has been giv­ing her a tough time. Hil­lary Clin­ton has so far se­cured the sup­port of 91 pledged can­di­dates as against 65 for Bernie San­ders. She has won in three states while San­ders has de­feated her in one. Clin­ton's vic­tory in South Carolina on 27 Fe­bru­ary when she bagged 39 del­e­gates as against 14 for San­ders has given her the much needed mo­men­tum. If she is able to do as well in the 11 pri­maries at stake on Tues­day, 1 March, she may be on course to win the Demo­cratic nom­i­na­tion for the US pres­i­dency. Hil­lary Clin­ton has promised to con­tinue and build upon Pres­i­dent Obama's in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal poli­cies. In­ter­nally, she would con­tinue and im­prove Obama's health care pro- gram which has been the sub­ject of strong crit­i­cism by the Repub­li­cans, pay spe­cial at­ten­tion to the women, Afro-Amer­i­cans, Lati­nos and other mi­nori­ties, be sen­si­tive to the sen­ti­ments and feel­ings of the Mus­lims in the US, and fo­cus on job cre­ation, education and the strength­en­ing of the US econ­omy. Ex­ter­nally, like Obama, she would try to avoid mil­i­tary ad­ven­tures abroad, pre­fer mul­ti­lat­er­al­ism over uni­lat­eral poli­cies as far as pos­si­ble, counter Rus­sia's pol­icy of re­assert­ing its power in ex­ter­nal affairs, con­tinue the pol­icy of re­bal­anc­ing of US forces in fa­vor of the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion to check and con­tain the ex­pan­sion of the Chi­nese power and in­flu­ence, and main­tain the cur­rent pol­icy of build­ing up strate­gic part­ner­ship with In­dia as a coun­ter­weight to China. In the light of the pre­vail­ing mood in the Amer­i­can political cir­cles and me­dia gen­er­ally, the pos­si­bil­ity of an eq­ui­table set­tle­ment of the Pales­tinian is­sue is re­mote un­der Hil­lary Clin­ton.

Pak­istan would con­tinue to face US pres­sure on such is­sues as ter­ror­ism, Afghanistan, and re­la­tions with China and Iran if Hil­lary Clin­ton is elected as Pres­i­dent. We should be able to man­age suc­cess­fully the ex­pected US pres­sures if we adopt the course of mod­er­a­tion and tol­er­ance in­ter­nally, main­tain an un­equiv­o­cal anti-ter­ror­ism pol­icy both in declara­tory and op­er­a­tional terms, avoid mil­i­tary ad­ven­tures like the Kargil op­er­a­tion, and co­op­er­ate with the US in the restora­tion of durable peace and sta­bil­ity in Afghanistan through na­tional rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. Al­though the US un­der Pres­i­dent Hil­lary Clin­ton may ex­press mis­giv­ings from time to time about our friend­ship with China and Iran, we should main­tain our poli­cies of de­vel­op­ing close re­la­tions with them on a mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial ba­sis while also con­tin­u­ing our pol­icy of de­vel­op­ing friendly re­la­tions with the US.

The vic­tory of a Repub­li­can can­di­date in the US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion later this year would not au­gur well gen­er­ally for the Lati­nos, es­pe­cially the il­le­gal im­mi­grants, and the Mus­lims in the US. The Repub­li­cans would also go for the dis­man­tling of or rad­i­cal changes in the Obama health care pro­gram. On the eco­nomic side, the Repub­li­cans would try to lower taxes while re­duc­ing pub­lic sec­tor ex­pen­di­ture on so­cial wel­fare pro­grams in the hope that lower taxes would en­cour­age in­vest­ment and in­no­va­tion in the coun­try, thus, pro­vid­ing a boost to the econ­omy.

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