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Pak press urges coalition to move on after Musharraf

Pakistani newspapers hailed the exit of US-backed President Pervez Musharraf, but urged the ruling coalition to move on quickly and tackle economic and security problems.

world Updated: Aug 20, 2008 09:49 IST

Pakistani newspapers on Tuesday hailed the exit of US-backed President Pervez Musharraf, but urged the ruling coalition to move on quickly and tackle economic and security problems.

"Going, Going, Gone" screamed a huge white on black headline in the English-language Daily Times, while The Newssaid: "Musharraf quits with his tail between his legs."

Retired general Musharraf resigned on Monday, ending his nine-year rule in the wake of impending impeachment by the Parliament, reportedly over charges of gross misconduct and violation of the constitution.

"What is incontestable is that the country must move on from this crisis quickly," said an editorial in Dawn, the country's oldest English-language newspaper.

It called upon the coalition comprising the parties of slain former premier Benazir Bhutto and ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif to immediately reinstate judges sacked by Musharraf last year and to appoint a new president.

The News said that Musharraf's long televised farewell address in which he defended himself against his opponents' allegations was "delusional".

"But the departure of Musharraf, even while denying all charges levelled against him in the impeachment charge sheet, also brings with it hope," its editorial said.

It asked the coalition leaders to demonstrate that they are capable of "insightful leadership, political wisdom and can live up to the task of guiding the country onwards along the path of progress."

The Daily Times said Musharraf, who seized power in a bloodless coup in October 1999, became intoxicated by power.

"Staying on in power beyond five or six years is simply not an option," it said.

The paper added that politicians now had a free hand but could no longer offload their failures on Musharraf.

"Politicians will not have the luxury of blaming him any more," it said.

"The fact is that Musharraf, who perhaps at the start of his tenure, set out to serve Pakistan with greater sincerity than others who came before him, left a considerable mark on the country... In the end his belief that he alone was a saint and all others villains worthy of little respect was a key factor in his undoing," it added.

The News, like the Dawn, also highlighted Musharraf's "successes" during his nine-year reign, listing among them the steps he initiated to bring about gender equality.

The steps taken to expand the role in public sphere for women through the increase in reserved seats for them in assemblies ahead of the 2002 polls was an important achievement, the paper said.

Besides, the undoing of General Ziaul Haq's draconian Hudood laws through the 2006 Protection of Women Act and the 2004 amendment in law to punish those guilty of 'honour' killings are all landmark decisions as far as rights for women go, the News editorial read.

The daily described Musharraf's "last speech" as an "attempt to place a halo around his own head as he walked away into the twilight".

The Daily Times in its editorial titled "Going, going, gone" praised the restraint Musharraf displayed in his last speech towards his opponents.

"He was in control of himself, he was confident and assured, neither bitter nor crowing... He did not lash out at the coalition government. He did not curse the role of media whose freedom he had made possible and which turned against him in the bitter end, and he did not criticise the lawyers' movement that is baying for his blood," the

Daily Times

editorial read.

The paper said that Musharraf's nadir came in 2007 when he blundered by sacking the chief justice of Pakistan and an extraordinary lawyers' movement supported by civil society literally brought him to his terminal blunder - the declaration of emergency in November 2007.

"Finally, it was the incumbency factor that got him. Staying on in power beyond five or six years is simply not an option," it said.

Another popular paper The Postwrote that Musharraf has finally bowed out to the challenge mounted by Pakistan's parliament to unravel his suffocating grip on the presidency.

"There is no gain saying that the final decision must have been a tough moment for Musharraf but then he was left with very few choices," the Post said.

Welcoming his decision to step down, the Nation expressed relief that his step brought an end to the confrontation between the Presidency and ruling coalition, that did not appear to be relenting in its drive to oust him.

"The day climaxing a silent revolution will go down as a major landmark of our history and may leave some important lessons for those who had been used to nursing Bonapartist notions," it said.

"After Musharraf's exit, the ruling coalition will have to accept the responsibility of running the government because from now on it would not be able to find anyone else to shift the blame for its failures," it added.