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EDITIONS
Thursday, 10 October, 2002, 11:19 GMT 12:19 UK
Press cautiously optimistic over polls
Pakistani women prepare for the polls
Much rests on today's polls
As the people of Pakistan go to the polls, several newspapers are optimistic that democracy can once again take hold in the country.

"Today is a decisive day for the people of Pakistan," says the largest circulation Urdu-language daily Jang.

According to the paper the elections, the first since a military coup in 1999, give the opportunity for people to judge the performance of President Musharraf's administration.

"Today voters will decide whether they want those politicians who want continuation of present reformative policies or favour those who oppose these reforms," it says.

It warns the people to "be careful" when casting their votes.

"Otherwise there would be no difference in today's and past elections," it says.

Break with the past


Democracy has never flourished in Pakistan

Khabrain
The pro-Islamist Ausaf believes that with these elections Pakistan could overcome its history of military governments.

The paper criticizes the country's "foreign-sponsored politicians", accusing them of sending "their children to the United States and the UK for higher education, while the common people at large remained illiterate".

"We hope that the people of Pakistan will start the process of change today," an editorial in the paper says.

The sensationalist Khabrain agrees.

"Democracy has never flourished in Pakistan. Military generals as well as politicians are responsible for this," it laments

"However, today once again people will exercise their right of electing a new parliament for the country," it continues.

But it urges people to "keep in mind only interests of the country" when they cast their votes.

"They should shun all other priorities and considerations," it says.

No change


There will be no end to the suffering of the people

Islam
But the Islamist daily Islam does not share this optimism.

The paper describes previous elections as "totally failed", adding that the promises made on the eve of elections in the past have always come to nothing.

It fears that "this exercise would also bring no change and there will be no end to the suffering of the people".

Despite this, the paper urges people to participate and "cast their vote according to the teaching of Islam".

Turnout

Low turnout is also a concern for The News daily.

In a campaign plagued by allegations of vote rigging, the paper says "the military government nor the election committee have earned any kudos for their pre-poll performance".


We either believe in democracy or we don't

Dawn
"How far this negative baggage can be offset by popular will and wisdom should be evident today," it says, adding "it all depends on how many people realise that it's their future at stake and go out to vote."

The English-language Dawn believes the success of the elections will not be evident immediately.

It can only be judged once an elected parliament is in place, it says.

"Its sovereignty should be unquestioned and accepted with grace by the army."

The paper concludes that there can be no "halfway house in democracy".

"We either believe in democracy or we don't."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

See also:

10 Oct 02 | South Asia
09 Oct 02 | South Asia
09 Oct 02 | South Asia
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