Election in Pakistan described as watershed for democracy


Dhaka : Poll experts in Dhaka Wednesday described recent parliamentary election in Pakistan as a watershed in democracy the world over as it had seen end of a nine‑year one‑man rule and emergence of strong democratic governance.

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Although Benazir Bhutto had to sacrifice her life for the cause of democracy, she is certainly the trend‑setter in ingraining seeds of democracy in Pakistan, the experts said.

These views were expressed at a round‑table discussion on “peaceful, violence‑free election” held at National Press Club Wednesday.

The roundtable was organized by two leading civil society groups South Asia Partnership‑Bangladesh and National Forum for Peace and Security. It was supported by a British organization called Saferworld.

Taking part in the discussion, a leading South Asian expert and Editor of state‑run BSS news agency Zaglul A Chowdhury said, 2008 could be called a very crucial year for growth and sustenance of democracy in South Asia.

He said, while Pakistan saw the end of an autocratic rule, giving way to democracy spearheaded by Asif Ali Zardari, Bhutan too is now tasting a semblance of democracy after the recent elections there. “The monarch in Bhutan has loosen his grip on the statecraft, allowing Bhutanese to taste the fruits of democratic governance.”

Now Bangladesh is set to see restoration of democracy through the Dec 29 parliamentary election after two‑year rule by army‑backed caretaker government, he said.

The roundtable was told that there have been bitterness and mud‑slinging during all poll campaigns across the world.

“We have seen how Benazir Bhutto was assassinated by bitter foes of democracy, “ they pointed out. But then, Pakistanis paid unique tributes to Benazir by holding aloft democracy she stood for, they said.

They acclaimed Nawaz Sharif’s attitude towards Zardari in Pakistan’s nascent journey towards democracy.