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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 February 2008, 06:42 GMT
Press upbeat on Pakistan election
Voters in Pakistan
The election is being described as a landmark, whatever the results
Pakistani newspapers are cautiously optimistic about the outcome of Monday's key elections in the country.

While hailing the polls as mostly fair and free of violence, they say President Pervez Musharraf and the political parties need to demonstrate maturity to ensure a smooth transition to democracy.

"The completion of the polling is a great achievement of the people of Pakistan and hopefully it would result in consolidation of the democratic process in the country," said the Pakistan Observer.

"Though in some parts of the country the turnout was reportedly low due to a boycott appeal by some political parties and the security situation, overall the trend has been satisfactory."

"Young people were particularly very active but reports suggested that women too took part in the process in large numbers despite threats by some elements."

The newspaper said that the onus was on the political parties to take the political process forward.

These elections are just the first phase of the Pakistani people's struggle to reclaim their country and hold responsible those who are to blame for the country's miserable social and economic conditions
Daily News
"We ... hope that all political parties would behave responsibly in the post-election period and respect the mandate of the people."

The Post said the police deserved praise for ensuring a largely violence-free poll.

"The perpetrators of religious violence declared their decision to stay away from the electoral activity. However, it seems their decision was prompted more by the fact that a number of their mercenaries dispatched to different parts of the country had been nabbed by the law enforcement agencies."

"This contention is further substantiated by the fact that in the tribal belt where militants could have wielded greater strength, the militant violence against the forces interested in democratic process continued unabated in Parachinar, Waziristan, Swat and adjoining areas."

'Sovereign body'

Opposition leader Nawaz Sharif after casting his vote
Newspapers say politicians need to show maturity after the results
Dawn newspaper hoped that President Pervez Musharraf would respect the verdict and act as a "father figure" in the aftermath of the polls.

"We hope the president lives up to his word and understands the implications of being a constitutional head."

"Even though he is out of uniform he still commands levers of power and can manipulate the parliamentary process to have a government of his choice and to pre-empt a two-thirds majority."

"This will go against his commitments."

"He must allow the assembly to work without let or hindrance as a sovereign body representing the hopes and aspiration of the people of Pakistan. He should act as the father figure, as he himself says, and not as a godfather."

Daily News said the future of Pakistan depended on the elections.

"These elections are just the first phase of the Pakistani people's struggle to reclaim their country and hold responsible those who are to blame for the country's miserable social and economic conditions."

"Everything about the future of Pakistan - stability, peace, progress, and normal social and political life - hinges greatly on the outcome of the elections."

'Scepticism'

The Nation said the international community was keenly watching the results of the elections.

"The outcome of the election will however be keenly watched by President Musharraf's foreign backers, who seem to have been viewing his commitment to hold fair, free and credible elections with scepticism."

Security personnel in Karachi on election day
Newspapers lauded the police for a largely peaceful poll
"By pre-judging the [governing] PML-Q's victory he must have further strengthened the public perception of the polls having been fixed."

"But then he should not ignore that any attempt at manipulating the election results would further push the country towards chaos and instability."

The News raised concerns about whether the political parties would be mature enough to support a stable government.

"The possibility of an unwieldy situation emerging in the aftermath of the polls remains high."

"In this situation, it can only be hoped that all leaders will recognise the need to display high levels of statesmanship and maturity, so that the stability and the security the country so badly needs, and which has been largely absent during the last few months, can be re-established."

Snap election scenario

Business Recorder highlighted the chaos that could unfold after the results in the probability of the main opposition parties, the PPP and PML-N joining hands.

"...There is also the possibility of a highly disturbing scenario unfolding after the elections, in that the PPP and PML-N could join hands to oust Pervez Musharraf and restore the deposed judges."

"If that happens, a snap election cannot be ruled out, if for nothing else, just to keep the boycotters and civil society on their side."

Frontier Post concluded that whatever the results, Monday's election, was a "landmark".

"Whether epoch-making or not, an election nevertheless is always an important milestone in a people's life, spelling out invariably a change of faces at high places or state policies or both, even though at times neither of the two."

"Still, it is always a landmark. And this holds good for this poll, too."

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