February 18, 2008

Pakistan votes

Filed under: ELECTIONS - 2008 — civilsocietypakistan @ 5:25 am
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Khaleej Times Online >>> EDITORIAL

18 February 2008

IT IS said that the darkest hour is just before the dawn. Pakistan had been suffering a prolonged period of widespread unrest, political or otherwise, that did threaten to destabilise the country at various points of time. The past one year had been especially critical for the people of Pakistan as the country reeled from a series of bloody disturbances some of which also gave birth to mass movements striving for democracy. As the nation votes in the national and provincial elections today, people in Pakistan can certainly hope for a new beginning.

President Musharraf has promised his nation a ‘free, fair, transparent and peaceful’ election. Although Sunday’s suicide attack in the tribal town of Parachinar that killed 39 people flies in the face of any such claim of peaceful polls and there are reports on the possibility of widespread rigging, scepticism and fear shouldn’t be getting the better of Pakistani voters. The polls are the first step towards lifting the country out of the morass of power struggles and curbs on civil liberties.

A lot is at stake for all the parties and players concerned. To begin with, the results of today’s elections — certainly the most crucial in the history of Pakistan — would in all probability be a referendum on President Musharraf’s eight-year rule. His popularity seemed to be on the wane following his decision to rein in the judiciary and gag the media to perpetuate his power. But the leader, who relinquished his army top job last December, seems to be in no mood to quit or throw up his hands in despair. During his recent tour of Europe, he continued to project himself as the only candidate who can bring democracy to his country and offer a lasting stability. And he still asserts that people of Pakistan want him to rule the country. Therefore, it remains to be seen how the president will react if the people of Pakistan vote against him. Is he ready to accept such a verdict and allow his country to relish a fair democracy?

Going by the public mood, it’s Benazir Bhutto who reigns supreme in the hearts of people. There’s no denying that the assassination of the country’s most charismatic leader was one of the darkest hours in the history of the nation. And her scarifice for her country shouldn’t be allowed to go to waste. Pollsters have already predicted a huge sympathy wave that might lead her party to wrest power from the present incumbent.

Then there’s Nawaz Sharif who also seems to be back into the fray, vowing to join hands with democratic forces.

The new Pakistani army chief has sent a strong message to the nation that the military establishment will not meddle in political affairs. Only time will tell whether the army is going to stick to this stand because, after all, Pakistan is a country that has been under military rule for more than three decades.

In the final analysis, with the polls, there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel.


1 Comment »

  1. Pakistan is a failed state. What further proof is needed after stating that it has been under military rule for more than three decades. Its compact that Constition reflects has been thrown in the dust bin a number of times. Uncivilised way of running a state has been its hallmark. Our friends and allies continue to support military rulers, not as friends but as short-sighted self-serving sponsors. There is nothing that 160 million people of this baneful country can do about its governance.
    Let the West shake themselves out of their selfishness to permit this ill-fated country to run its affairs in a civilised manner free of mercenary interests of usurpers.

    Comment by Javid Ahmad Khn — February 23, 2008 @ 9:36 am | Reply

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