"Rivalry-bitten Pak politicians 'sabotaging' democracy"

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Washington, May 17 : With the PML-N walking out of the ruling PPP-led alliance, hopes for national unity and revival of democracy in Pakistan, which had risen after the February 18 elections, had been dashed, and the country's traditional political rivals were solely to be blamed for it, said an editorial in The Times.

It said that Pakistan's politicians were "sabotaging hopes of revived democracy".

Referring to PML-N quitting the cabinet, the editorial said that it was clear that "atavistic animosities between these feuding leaders have sabotaged the proposals for a new democratic beginning."

It said: "Hopes for national unity and democracy raised after the elections had been dashed. As always, personal interest had triumphed over national need. PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif has been fixated on humbling President Pervez Musharraf, and counting on the reinstatement of the former chief justice to declare Musharraf's Presidency invalid."

It further said that PPP Co-chairman Asif Zardari was accused of stalling judges' return, who might be annul the amnesty granted to him and other leaders on corruption charges.

Castigating Musharraf, it said that the "beleaguered" President is suspected of engineering the split in order to weaken his opponents, cling to office and win support of the Americans and British who are worried by the new government's "appeasement" of tribal militants and Al Qaeda leaders, said the editorial.

It said that the West hopes that the return to democracy would mean a government able and ready to tackle the faltering economy, rising inflation, religious extremism and the "disastrous neglect" of education.

"Bickering will only rekindle popular disgust with all Pakistan's politicians and may prompt another ambitious military man to stage a coup. The despairing cycle needs to be broken. It is time for the men of Pakistan's government to govern," said the editorial.

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