February 19, 2008


Democracy takes revenge: Pak media (Rezaul H Laskar, February 19, 2008, PTI)

'Democracy takes revenge', this brief headline in a Pakistani newspaper on Tuesday summed up the result of the general election in which the opposition Pakistan People's Party and the Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz have emerged as key players.

With the PML-Q, derisively referred to as the 'King's party' for backing President Pervez Musharraf [Images], heading towards the exit, the Daily Times carried a banner headline that read: 'All the King's men, gone!'

"President Pervez Musharraf's political allies, the PML-Q, appear to have lost their grip over the country's parliament, with the PPP (of slain leader Benazir Bhutto [Images]) and the PML-N (of former Premier Nawaz Sharif) overtaking the 'bicycle' in the election race," the Daily Times wrote. The bicycle was the PML-Q's election symbol.

In Pakistan, the revenge of democracy (Syed Saleem Shahzad, 2/20/08, Asia Times)
Incoming results from Pakistan's general elections on Monday show a landslide victory for opposition parties with the ruling party of President Pervez Musharraf and his allies headed for a crushing defeat. The greatest gains have been made by the late Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) of former premier Nawaz Sharif. Stinging defeats have been handed to several stalwarts of the ruling party.

Analysts say the margin of difference is so decisive that pro-Musharraf forces throughout Pakistan face an uncertain political future. Still, as no single party has won an overall majority, it seems a coalition government will need to be negotiated once the final votes are counted.

"All the scripts of the pasts are now outdated and a new script will now be written in which the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the Pakistan People's Party will be at the helm of national affairs in the future. The set-up will be without ... Pervez Musharraf. This is what Ms Benazir Bhutto used to call the 'revenge of democracy'," Professor Husain Haqqani, director of the International Relations Department at Boston University, told Asia Times Online by phone from Washington.

The Rediff Interview/Pakistan analyst Dr Shirin Mazari: 'Musharraf's legacy will not be negative' (Rediff, February 19, 2008)
In the first part of her interview to rediff.com Managing editor Sheela Bhatt, Dr Shirin M Mazari, an Islamabad-based analyst, spoke on what to expect from the elections in Pakistan.

In Pakistan, if, as you say that violence is not about religion then what is the political issue on the minds of terrorists?

There is a war on terror going on. There are people in the Pashtun belt who have a strong problem with the US war that inflicted collateral damage killing civilians. They see certain people as supportive of the US. Unfortunately, their action to target certain people is motivated by political ends.

If this assessment is right then how do you address the problem?

We need a realistic approach. We can't go and kill everybody in the tribal areas. We will have to do what Americans haven't been able to do. We need to isolate terrorists from innocent tribals. We need to enforce law and order and bring in economic development. These areas are very underdeveloped. When people have stake in the system they will isolate themselves from violence. Today, people feel they have no stake. The government has to show its presence in the tribal belt.

There is a perception in the Western media that the outcome in the war on terror is not satisfactory. That Musharraf has not done enough to make the global war on terror successful.

Excuse me! The government of Pakistan is the only government which has managed to catch terrorists and hand them over to the Americans. What has America been able to do in Iraq or in Afghanistan? But for Pakistan's help, the Americans would not have been able to achieve anything. It is absolutely nonsensical, the rhetoric of the West that Pakistan needs to do more. We have done what we should have done. We got the leaders of Al Qaeda.

There is a debate on Pakistan's role because people with guns are hurting Pakistan itself as they are now entering your cities.

Yes, it is hurting us and this is the problem. We have a problem of internal terrorism. That is the sectarian problem, the problem of militancy. Also, we have the left-over of the so-called first 'Afghan Jihad'. In addition to this, we have to deal with America's war on terror. Did anyone ask the Americans that when they started bombing north Afghanistan why didn't they seal the south? The Americans allowed terrorists to escape from the south.

There are too many complications and we will have to fight the terrorists because they are problem for us. Our policy to fight terrorism is not going to be military-centric like the Americans. We can't bomb our villages because we can't afford collateral damage. They are our people, we can't go on killing them.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 19, 2008 6:02 AM

Nawaz Shaief's Muslim League Party is accused of murder of half a million Hindus and Sikhs and ethnic cleansing. How his victory could be celebrated by infidels I don't know. His party presents clear danger of USA itself.

Posted by: Gyan at February 20, 2008 12:30 AM