In an interview with DW-WORLD.DE, Dr. Christian Wagner, head of Asia Research at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, says that the relationship between Germany and Pakistan can only get better.
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf officially resigned from his post on Monday
DW-WORLD.DE: What will happen to relations between Germany and Pakistan now that Musharraf has resigned?
Dr. Christian Wagner: I think Musharraf’s resignation has increased the democratic structure in Pakistan. In the coming weeks we will see a shifting of power in both parliament and the rest of the government. The political parties are going to concern themselves with attempting to reduce the power of the office of the president. This increase in democracy is certainly in Germany’s interests, and should help in the battle against terrorism.
There are two main front runners for the presidency: Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Nawaz Sharif. Are either of them currently in the lead?
Dr. Wagner believes that relations will improve
That will depend largely on what responsibilities will come along with the office of the president. I assume that the powers of the president will be greatly reduced. That means that the next president will presumably only have symbolic duties. He won’t have the complete power which Musharraf had to dissolve parliament and remove the prime minister. That will certainly no longer happen. Therefore I think it depends on whether both parties can agree on a common candidate or if each party will nominate there own, leading to a runoff election for the presidency.
Do you believe there is a better candidate from a German or EU perspective?
No, there isn’t really a better or worse candidate when it comes to a German or EU perspective. I think what is really critical for Germany and the EU is that now that Musharraf has resigned, there is more hope for the democratic structure in Pakistan. However, you have to take into account that we will probably see a lot of instability in Pakistan in the coming weeks. Up to now the greatest wish of the political coalition was the resignation of the president. Now that that’s happened, the riffs in the two main parties will once again become evident. So because of that, I really believe that in the coming weeks we are going to see some serious political instability.
How much influence will Germany and the EU have over who becomes the next president?
Well once again I think it means a lot for Germany and the EU that democracy in Pakistan is on the rise. We had a taste of this in February with the election. Now with the resignation of Musharraf the real power can be concentrated in parliament and the rest of the government. That is certainly in Germany’s interests, because with it the battle against terrorism in Pakistan will now have a greater political legitimacy.
How does the relationship between Germany and Pakistan look for the future?
I think Germany and Pakistan have had a very long and good relationship. That is mainly due to an economic alliance. In the past few years, Germany has increasingly invested in education in the country. Germany is involved in the construction of a university in Pakistan. In the case of the EU, the relationship with Pakistan is naturally not only due to economic reasons, but also to the relationship with Afghanistan. I think Pakistan will be forced into taking action in the tribal areas to keep terrorists from infiltrating into Pakistan from Afghanistan.
There are some 3,500 German soldiers in Afghanistan
There are currently some 3,500 German soldiers stationed in Afghanistan. Do you believe with the unrest that is sure to occur in Pakistan that more German troops will be required in the region?
There have been times when the US has conducted direct military actions against both al Qaeda and the Taliban along the border between Pakistan und Afghanistan. Up to now those actions have been condemned by the Pakistani government. I believe that the new government will comply with the actions conducted by Western nations. So I think the war on terrorism will continue to be fought from Pakistan. It would also be preferable for more cooperation between Pakistani forces and the allied troops in Afghanistan.