Pakistani Press on Sharif’s Return

The USG Open Source Center rounds up the Urdu press in Pakistan on the return of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

Urdu Press Roundup on Prevailing Political Situation After Sharif’s Return
Pakistan — OSC Summary
Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The following is a roundup of excerpts from editorials and an article on the political situation after the return of former Prime Minister Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif to the country, published in the 27 November editions of six Urdu dailies:

Nawa-e Waqt Editorial Urges Opposition Parties To Take United Stance

Emphasizing that the homecoming of the leaders of two major political parties is posing a threat to the rule by President General Musharraf and his allies, the editorial states, “If the opposition fully concentrates on the supremacy of the Constitution for which civil society has laid the foundation, it will become difficult for Musharraf to continue in office against the provisions of the Constitution. Therefore, it will be a real test for all the opposition leaders, including Sharif and Bhutto, to rise to the occasion. The smallest lapse on their part at this juncture can cause irreparable damage to the unity and integrity of the country.”

Jang Article by Irshad Ahmed Haqqani Sees Sharif, Bhutto Participating in Elections

Discussing the pros and cons of the two major parties in the country boycotting the elections, the article comments, “Although Bhutto and Sharif have not contacted or met each other, there is hope that they will hold mutual consultations in a bid to chalk out a joint strategy to counter the prevailing situation. Despite the decision by the All Parties Democratic Movement (APDM) to boycott ther elections, the two leaders will probably decide to participate in them. In spite of all the odds, this decision will be reasonable. It will be worrisome for the rulers, but they will not be in a position to prevent it.”

Islam Editorial Discusses Sharif’s Decision To Lead Nation

Discussing the political situation Sharif is facing after his return to the country, the editorial states: “If Sharif decides to boycott the election in spite of his return to the country, it will possibly benefit the Pakistan People’s Party and the forces that pull the strings of power. The Sharif brothers have returned home after staying abroad in exile for a long time and wholeheartedly expressed their willingness to represent the people of Pakistan. It will be clear to some extent, in the next few days, as to how far the situation allows them to play this role and what sort of political farsightedness they show.” Jang Editorial Calls For Burying Hatchets, Making New Beginning

Urging all the political stakeholders to work for the establishment of a conducive political environment in the country, the editorial says: “There is no doubt that the politics in the country have taken a new turn after the return of Bhutto and Sharif. All the political forces, including the government and the opposition, now need to work for the stability and promotion of democracy in the country and serve the larger interests of the nation. They should create such a congenial atmosphere that the holding of elections in a peaceful manner becomes possible and every candidate accepts the election results.” Jinnah Editorial Discusses Legal Implications of Sharif Contesting Elections

Referring to the reports that Sharif will not be able to contest the elections because of his conviction in a case, the editorial writes: “Sharif is trying to create the impression that he has not returned to the country by striking some deal, while Bhutto has said that the homecoming of Sharif is an outcome of the National Reconciliation Ordinance. At the same time, Attorney General Malik Muhammad Qayyum says: ‘Sharif’s participation in the elections is difficult. He is facing cases with the National Accountability Bureau with regard to an airplane hijacking and the purchase of a helicopter; however, if he seeks remission of the penalties, there might be some way out.’”

Express Editorial Calls for Stability, Democracy in Country

Urging the government to show more magnanimity to enable the creation of a congenial political environment in the country, the editorial remarks, “It is expected that the government will give a free hand to political leaders to participate in the political process in the same spirit of magnanimity it showed in allowing them to return home and providing many facilities, including the provision of security. Such steps by the government will go a long way in the promotion of democracy and stability in the country. The national interests should be kept in mind while they work for the stability of the political system. Sharif has demonstrated positive thinking by saying that he does not believe in the politics of victimization. People expect a similar reaction from the government also.”

Khabrain Editorial Says Election Only Means To Put Country on Track of Democracy

Supporting the statement of Sharif that the country’s survival lies in holding of elections, the editorial states, “The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Group is one of the main political parties in the country, and people have expectations from it. These can be fulfilled only if the party takes part in the elections. The present situation is such that the parties in the APDM are insisting on boycotting the elections, but at the same time, they are filing nominations, which has increased the uncertainty. They should assume a decisive stance in favor of participating the elections and not boycotting them. By doing this, Sharif can also realize the desire he expressed by saying that he has returned to break the backbone of dictatorship. People will be bound to think that if he boycotts the elections, he has decided to stay away from the electoral process following a deal with the government.” ‘