‘Tables turned: Sharif PM, Musharraf under arrest’

Islamabad, June 6 (IANS) The “tables have turned” in Pakistan, said a leading daily Thursday pointing out that Nawaz Sharif is again occupying the prime minister’s chair while erstwhile military strongman General Pervez Musharraf is under arrest

Nawaz Sharif Wednesday became the first man to be elected prime minister in the country for a third time.

“He is unparalleled as a Pakistani head of government ousted in a military coup and brought back by popular vote. There may be more reasons why the occasion needs to be celebrated just as it has to be marked with some solemn vows,” said an editorial in the Dawn Thursday.

It added: “The tables have turned. Nawaz Sharif is back in the prime minister’s chair and Gen Pervez Musharraf is under arrest and facing trial.”

Nawaz Sharif has already served as prime minister for two non-consecutive terms — the first from Nov 1, 1990 to July 18, 1993, and the second from Feb 17, 1997 to Oct 12, 1999.

He was sent into exile in 2000 by then military ruler Pervez Musharraf following the dismissal of his elected government in October 1999.

The daily noted that in his speech after his election in the National Assembly, the new prime minister made a conscious effort to build on this reputation as a politician who has “undergone the course and has learnt”.

“He solicited political consensus, his emphasis on the economy in accordance with the PML-N’s line since its victory in the May 11 elections. He spoke of merit, about economic and social mobility manifest in his promise to have a train run between Khunjerab and Gwadar and before that he talked about respecting the mandates given to political parties,” it added.

The editorial, however, observed that Sharif did not address terrorism and his mention of the US drones was “too cautious and too fleeting a remark to qualify as a statement of intent, let alone one of policy”.

It went on to say that the “supremacy of democracy, a call for consensus, the protest against the drones, the respect for popular mandates – the themes were not out of the routine”.

“Five years ago, the stress was on reconciliation, on the need to shape a national policy on many issues. Those who spoke after Nawaz Sharif’s speech in the assembly Wednesday did highlight some of the issues where consensus is hard to achieve,” it said.

“The new prime minister’s promise in dealing with these problems lies not so much in the numbers he has by his side but in the belief about the security and resultant maturity of the elected collective. Politicians will err and then correct their mistakes, so long as they have the time and the security of tenure,” the daily added.

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