"Democracy takes revenge" this brief headline in a Pakistani newspaper on February 19 summed up the result of the general election in which the opposition PPP and PML-N have emerged as key players.
With the PML-Q, derisively referred to as the "King's party" for backing President Pervez Musharraf, heading towards the exit, the Daily Times carried a banner headline that read: "All the King's men, gone!"
"President Pervez Musharraf's political allies, the PML-Q, appear to have lost their grip over the country's parliament, with the Pakistan People's Party (of slain leader Benazir Bhutto) and the PML-N (of former Premier Nawaz Sharif) overtaking the 'bicycle' in the election race," the Daily Times wrote. The bicycle was the PML-Q's election symbol.
The News, another leading English daily, summed up the stunning results as: "Democracy takes revenge". It was an apparent reference to a remark made by Bhutto's son Bilawal, who was named the PPP Chairman after her death.
As official and unofficial results were tabulated, it emerged that PPP and PPP had gained the most.
A front-page comment in The News titled "The Writing on the Wall" said: "All the collaborators and their henchmen, barring a few in urban protected political pockets, have been wiped out in a historic sweep of the nation against General (retired) Pervez Musharraf and his obstinate rule.
"In less than 12 months since the fateful day of March 9 last year, when the then General had invaded the country's apex court and attacked its Chief Justice, every concerned patriot watched him slide down the tube, one step after another. People were vainly hoping that he would wake up to the reality."
Several PML-Q stalwarts had to bite the dust in February 18 polls. PML-Q chief and former premier Chowdhry Shujaat Hussain, Musharraf aide and former railway minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, former foreign minister Khurshid M Kasuri and former National Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Amir Hussain were among prominent PML-Q leaders who fell by the wayside.
Some other stories in the newspaper were headlined thus: "Nation Votes for Change", "How the mighty fell", "A Referendum against Musharraf" and "Silent Revolution, Sweet Revenge".
"Simply remarkable! The power of vote has outshone the powers-that-be. A silent revolution of the silent majority has struck Pakistan and the otherwise voiceless people have said a big but decisive 'No'," said a report in 'The News'.
The Pakistan Post wrote about "Goliaths who fell" and Business Recorder about "Musharraf allies face shocking defeat in vote".
A leading daily described Sharif's triumphant return in a report headlined "Lion roars again". The PPP's performance at the hustings was also acknowledged with an apt headline: "PPP comes home". Bhutto had returned to Pakistan from self-exile in October last year to lead her party in the election campaign but was assassinated in a suicide attack two months later.