Washington, Feb 26 : The February 18 poll in Pakistan is likely to ease country's political and constitutional crisis, precipitated by President Pervez Musharraf's decision to sack Supreme Court justices and alter the Constitution last year.
The resurgence of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's party, which went from 16 seats in the 2002 parliamentary elections to 69, is a key indication of Musharraf's unpopularity with the masses, the Newsweek has said in its report.
Sharif's campaign was solely based on the restoration of the judiciary and the ouster of Musharraf.
While Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari, have not worked out exactly how they will unravel Musharraf's 2007 actions, they seem committed to doing so in some way.
At the same time, the lawyers' opposition to Musharraf is being judicious. Supreme Court Bar Association President Aitzaz Ahsan has indicated that as long as the judiciary is restored, some compromises on other issues (Musharraf's fate perhaps?) could be worked out. This is how democracy should work.
But will this bring an end to the jihad? Sharif and Zardari have both spoken about taking a different approach to the militants up in the tribal areas than Musharraf, one that involves more diplomacy and less force.
This makes sense in theory and is a version of the counterinsurgency strategy being tried in Iraq: Reach out to the militants, try to make a deal with those who are amenable, and isolate the true irreconcilables, who must then be captured or killed.
In fact, Musharraf himself has tried this strategy but with little luck so far. It may be that Musharraf was hesitant about the approach, or did not have the credibility to pull it off. In any event, whatever the civilian government wishes, the Pakistani Army will have to embrace any new approach.
The Newsweek said if the two parties, which together won almost two thirds of the vote, adopt a forthright anti-terror strategy, it will be seen as a Pakistani strategy, not one being directed by the army or the Americans.
Until now, the battles against militants have been seen as America's obsession. What democracy could do is make Pakistanis understand that this is their war.