Home Indian Muslim Bhutto, Nawaz will make Pakistani polls credible: editorial

Bhutto, Nawaz will make Pakistani polls credible: editorial


Islamabad : The presence of former prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif in Pakistan will lend credibility to the general elections to be held in January but the polls will be a farce if the emergency continues and media curbs are not withdrawn, a newspaper editorial said Tuesday.

Another editorial said Sharif’s return had changed the country’s political goalposts and that the worst affected would be the former ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML) and the two cousins at the helm of its affairs.

“With Mr. Nawaz Sharif also back home, the presence of two former prime ministers should make the January election credible if both are allowed to take part in it,” Dawn said in an editorial headlined “Wheels within wheels”.

At the same time, it maintained the Jan 8 election “will be a farce if the emergency remains in force and the curbs on the media are not withdrawn”.

According to the newspaper, the caretaker government that has been put in place ahead of the elections and which support President Pervez Musharraf “can still salvage their honour and establish their credentials as neutral if they organise a truly fair and transparent election.

“Notwithstanding the opposition’s foibles, the onus lies on the military-nominated government to pave the way for the restoration of democracy and the return of the rule of law and the people’s sovereignty,” Dawn maintained.

“One hopes that following his expected induction as a civilian head of state on Thursday, President Musharraf will help end the stifling atmosphere by lifting the emergency and withdrawing the Provisional Constitution Order,” it said.

This move would automatically restore the 1973 constitution as demanded by the opposition All Parties Democratic Movement (APDM) as a precursor to participating in the polls.

It was also about time, Dawn said, that Bhutto and Sharif “stopped prevaricating and let us know what their basic, minimum demands are for participating in the elections” and to make it clear they were not “hiding something from the people”.

According to The News, “the triumphant return” Sunday evening of Sharif and his brother Shahbaz Sharif had “changed” the “political goalposts in the country”.

“Despite the arrest of hundreds of party workers, the enthusiasm with which the Sharifs were welcomed to their home city (of Lahore) after a seven-year exile, indicates they still retain a great deal of popular appeal,” it noted in an editorial headlined “Changed goalposts”.

“The political group that seems likely to be worst affected by the return of Sharif is the PML, the former ruling party, and the Chaudhry cousins at the helm of its affairs,” The News said.

“Till early this year, indeed even through the summer, PML president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and former Punjab chief minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi had hoped for a smooth electoral ride.

“The return of Benazir Bhutto, and now the comeback by the Sharifs — their biggest challenger in Punjab — are reported, in some quarters, to have left the Chaudhrys reeling,” the editorial maintained.