Pakistan polls to be a watershed in its history: Daily

Islamabad, March 22 (IANS) It’ll be a watershed in Pakistan’s quest for a stable democratic order when the country goes to the polls May 11, a leading daily said Friday.

An editorial in Dawn said that the doomsayers have turned out to be wrong with the date for the general elections being announced.
“In short, the system has survived.”
The editorial recalled a headline in its newspaper way back in the 1960s on the day the people turned out to vote: “Day of destiny dawns for democracy”.
“In fact, that `day of destiny’ did not give democracy to Pakistan, neither did several elections held afterwards. Including the party-less polls held under Gen Ziaul Haq, Pakistan has had nine general elections in the last 43 years.”
“…many of these were hardly held under democratic conditions even if numerically this is not a bad record. The fault lies in our inability to work democracy and forestall military interventions,” said the daily.
It reiterated that for the first time in Pakistan’s history, elected governments at the centre and in the provinces will hand over power to the next elected dispensations after having completed the full five-year term.
“Once again, in this case the system has proved the Cassandras wrong, for it has survived crises which would have been a nightmare even for stable democracies.”
With Wednesday’s announcement by President Asif Ali Zardari the uncertainty has ended, and voters will elect the five assemblies on the same day.
“This hopefully means that before the Election Commission of Pakistan gears up for the electoral exercise across the country, the government and opposition will clinch a deal on a caretaker prime minister,” it said.
The daily stressed that “May 11 is going to be a watershed in Pakistan’s quest for a stable democratic order and this `day of destiny’ shouldn’t fall victim to futile or contrived controversies”.