Pakistan elections 2008

  • While some international media channels have read the February 18 General Elections in Pakistan as a referendum against the person of President Pervez Muharraf, a number of others see them in a more positive light. An Agence France Presse report published in one of the English language Pakistani dailies, for instance, noted US President George Bush calling them “a significant victory for democracy”. He is reported to have said “there was a victory for Pakistan” in that they had been judged “free and fair”, and that he viewed them as a victory on the war on terror over “(guys who) can’t stand free societies”.

    A Reuters report then referred to Western diplomats in Islamabad appearing eminently comfortable with the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Kiyani “remaining focused” on the problems posed to Pakistan’s stability by terrorist organizations. They would have been further reassured on this after the Awami National Party (ANP) Vice President, Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, announced “ Pashtuns have sent a clear message to the world in these elections that they are not terrorists and extremists”, on the ANP having routed the religious groupings in Pakistan’s restive North West Frontier Province (NWFP).

    The Associated Press report, too, put a positive spin on the election results when it quoted Senator Joseph Bidden, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee saying, “Nothing is more important than giving the moderate majority a clear voice and a clear stake in the system”. But what perhaps best sums up the US reaction to the election results was Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institute assessing that the change “could be one of those counterintuitive things who seems less hard-line and pro-western…may end up doing a better job” in combating terrorism.

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