Canadian media terms poll results as "just rebuff" to Musharraf

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Washington, Feb.22 : The results of Pakistan's February 18 elections have been described by Canadian media as a "just rebuff" to President Pervez Musharraf and his ruling party, as well as a fierce rejection of the country's Islamist groups.

In an editorial, Toronto Star, Canada's mass-circulation daily, described the election as a "welcome surge to the centre" that brings hope of a fresh start after nine years of "botched military rule, the 9/11 trauma and Islamist anarchy."

Whatever the new government's makeup, the editorial points out that Pakistan's 160 million people have restored parliamentary legitimacy and the nation's prospects.

"They should unshackle the judiciary and press, assert Islamabad's authority in Peshawar and on the Frontier, suppress Al Qaeda and its ilk, invest in schools to undercut radical madrassas, and stabilise the price and supply of food, fuel and power, it says.

And where Pakistan's elected leaders go, General Ashfaq Kayani and the army should follow. Washington above all should make that clear. Pakistan's democrats face a tough job, but not an impossible one. They deserve the world's support as they move forward," says Toronto Star.

The editorial in the Dallas Morning News calls the election "good news, for once, from Pakistan".

It says that the defeat of the religious parties gives the lie to President Pervez Musharraf's claim that "he's the only thing keeping the nuclear-armed Muslim nation from being lost to the radicals."

The newspaper believes that the election results represent a "total rejection of the autocratic president, who has bullied the judiciary and the news media in an increasingly desperate bid to hold on to power."

It maintains that the US, "which placed all its chips" on Musharraf, is now left with its Pakistan policy "in ruins."

The Daily Times quotes the newspaper as saying that the only reasonable thing left for the Pakistani president to do is resign.

The Globe and Mail of Toronto, Canada's most respected daily, reports that the US administration and other Western powers are involved in behind-the-scenes negotiations with Pakistan's victorious political parties aimed at saving President Musharraf.

Washington is concerned that a confrontation between the President and the newly elected government would plunge Pakistan into a new political crisis and distract from fighting terrorism.

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