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Poll euphoria was like Indo-Pak ODI match

world Updated: Feb 25, 2008 15:49 IST

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Booker-shortlisted Pakistani writer Mohsin Hamid says the euphoria over recent poll results brought back memories of Javed Miandad's winning six runs off the last ball in the 1986 Pakistan-India one-day match.

"Yes, I felt proud to be a Pakistani. Even more significant, I felt happy to be a Pakistani. Pakistan is home to a sensible people capable of conducting an effective election under the gaze of a fiercely independent media," Hamid says.

"It brought back memories of Javed Miandad's winning six off Chetan Sharma's last ball in that glorious Pakistan-India one-day match," he wrote in the Guardian newspaper.

"Suddenly, there is optimism in the air. And for a place often - and unfairly - described by the international media as the most dangerous in the world, that is revolutionary.

"And Pakistan has not changed overnight. It is still the same place of dirt-poor farmers, Kalashnikov-carrying militants, sharp-tongued schoolgirls, motorcycle-riding bank clerks, dashingly inconsistent fast-bowlers, and ambitious gay fashion designers that it was last week."

Like most Pakistanis, Hamid had expected widespread rigging, riots or suicide bombings during the February 18 general election.

"Instead, Pakistan managed a relatively free and fair election that delivered a crushing defeat to the ruling party of Pakistan's unpopular President (Pervez) Musharraf. More than that, the country's religious parties were assigned to the electoral dustbin, with voters even in the supposedly conservative North West Frontier Province that borders Afghanistan flocking to secular candidates.

"The winners were moderate, centrist politicians - suggesting perhaps that Pakistanis, notwithstanding acres of newsprint to the contrary, are at heart a moderate centrist bunch," Hamid wrote.