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Page last updated at 12:15 GMT, Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Pakistan press urges Musharraf to go

Pervez Musharraf
'Mr Musharraf should decide whether to hold office any longer'

Pakistani newspapers say the result of Monday's parliamentary elections is a vote against President Pervez Musharraf.

The main party backing President Musharraf suffered a heavy defeat in the polls.

The Pakistan People's Party (PPP) of the late former PM, Benazir Bhutto, won the most seats, followed by the PML-N of another former PM, Nawaz Sharif,

The two opposition parties are expected to begin talks on forming a coalition that could potentially control more than half the seats in parliament.

The Nation says the vote offers a "clear verdict" on President Musharraf.

The paper says the vote "rubbishes the government's policies of lopsided development, its claim that it has created an economic bonanza for the general public and its decision to have recourse to the military option to eliminate the hydra-headed monster of terrorism".

"As these policies were based on false and historically disproved premises, they backfired."

The paper says election day, 18 February, was also "the day of a referendum on the standing of President Musharraf among the people".

"We believe that the president should listen to the people's voice and step down."

'Autocratic rule'

Urdu daily Jang echoes the sentiment.

"We believe President Musharraf should decide for himself if he can continue to hold office when the people have voted for his arch rival."

"After casting his vote on Monday, he said that he would go along with the winning party. Now it will be difficult for him to be true to his words."

"We believe it is better for the leadership of both winning parties and the president to take decisions in the greater interests of the nation, as the challenges faced by the country these days can only be combated through unity."

Supporters of Nawaz Sharif celebrating
'Pakistanis want more self-governance'

Dawn says President Musharraf's policies stand "rejected" after an election that was a referendum on Mr Musharraf's policies.

"The nation expects him to be a good loser... The voters have punished all those seen as being supportive of autocratic rule."

The News says the president and his supporters in parliament have been beaten and "more or less humiliated".

The paper says Mr Musharraf will have to break with past habits and "eat humble pie and work in accordance with the wishes of all those who were until yesterday the target of his scorn and contempt."

'War against citizens'

Several newspapers urge the leading PPP and PML-N to cooperate to achieve a smooth transition to democracy.

"Even if the two mainstream parties have a difference of opinion on some major issues, they cannot overlook the factors that led to their victory in the polls," The Nation says.

"One was the widespread resentment against the President Musharraf regime for conducting a war against its own citizens, especially in the tribal region and Balochistan."

The paper says the two parties must "be conscious of the growing anti-US sentiment if at all they decide to fight the ongoing 'war on terror'."

Express says the two parties have a lot of responsibility to share and expressed concerns over possible political manipulation.

Political party posters
'The results refute the notion that Pakistanis lack political maturity'

"The leadership of both parties should demonstrate sanity and cooperate with each other so that the journey towards democracy in the country can be continued smoothly."

"We think certain elements will try to create differences between the two major political forces. If they succeed in doing so, the politics of horse trading and compromise will start again, which is detrimental to democracy."

Dawn says the results prove Pakistanis want more control over their lives.

"They [voters] haven't gone ahead and given a huge majority to one single party."

"One can safely assume that Pakistanis want more self-governance, more provincial autonomy and a relatively weak centre that allows them to lead their lives the way they wish to."


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