Pakistan press celebrates landmark elections

Image source, AFP
Image caption, Pakistan media are euphoric over "historic" elections

Pakistani papers are reflecting the nation's upbeat mood after making what most consider to be a successful democratic transition from one civilian government to another for the first time in its history.

Most editorial writers, pundits and Twitter commentators agree that the electorate has given feel a befitting reply to militant groups such as the Pakistani Taliban by turning out to vote in defiance of violent threats.

All major TV channels are currently giving wall-to-wall coverage to the election results. Their mood is one of great excitement and clear celebration - especially on Geo News, the most-watched channel.

Although the tones may vary, the overwhelming theme in newspaper editorials, commentaries and articles over the past two days is that democracy has won.

'New chapter'

Dawn newspaper's euphoric headline "The finest hour: Election day" sums up the feelings of a nation whose history has been marred by frequent military coups, assassinations and terrorism.

"It's here, the day many thought would somehow not arrive: election day - the vital step in the first civilian-led transition between elected governments in a long time, an achievement that for years seemed out of reach of this country's see-saw politics," the paper says in its editorial.

The Daily Times echoed these sentiments, pointing out that "democracy as a system seems to be striking deep roots amongst our people as the big turnout in this election despite the terrorist threat indicates".

The paper says Pakistan "stands poised at the cusp of a new chapter in its history".

"The results of this election, no matter who wins eventually, are a marker along the journey of departure from a troubled past," the Daily Times editorial optimistically concluded.

The News for its part argues that the election shows that Pakistan is marching towards "a different road" and the year 2013 will be mentioned in years to come.

"Perhaps we have finally moved towards the realisation that the only hope for us lies in holding on to democracy, and ensuring it moves forward," the paper says.

'People's determination'

The Pakistan Observer praises people's "grit and determination" to see change in the country.

"May 11 was a day for masses to show their power and change the destiny of the nation and it was remarkable and noteworthy that people came out with enthusiasm and jubilation to exercise their right to franchise, despite threats of suicide bombings and blasts from militants," the paper said.

The Express Tribune feels the presence of "a large number of women voters at polling stations, at least, in major urban centres" is an encouraging sign for the future. "Their enthusiastic participation is a good omen," the paper says.

"Despite all the acts of violence that happened in past days and open threats by the extremists to sabotage the polls, the joint efforts by the army, election commission and judiciary as well as people's co-operation have made the elections satisfactory," Urdu newspaper Nawa-i-Waqt said.

Journalist Omar Quraishi tweeted that the high turnout was a setback to the Taliban - much like the public response to the shooting of schoolgirl activist Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban in October in retribution for her advocacy for girls' education.

Prominent journalist Mohammad Malick tweeted that "long Qs have defeated Taliban and their ilk by defeating fear... Proud to be a Pakistani".


Although newspapers are euphoric over the elections, at the same time there is an overall feeling that this is just a beginning and many challenges lie ahead for the incoming government.

Dawn newspaper points out that "a different trajectory for this country starts with equal opportunity and inclusivity".

The paper feels that despite the much-vaunted commitment to these values by political elites, "the reality remains quite different".

In its editorial, Dawn says that it is now necessary to keep an eye on how future rulers will involve minorities and women in mainstream politics, as this year their participation has only been "a token effort".

The Pakistan Observer cautioned members-elect that "all their acts would be under the strict scrutiny of the people, as they have pinned high hopes in them and if they fail to deliver, they will meet the fate of their predecessors".

The Nation said that "the vote is the way forward that we have chosen. May those voted into power have the ability to shoulder the responsibility of leading Pakistan to prosperity".

Pakistan Today feels "there is an urgent need to undo wrong wherever it has taken place".

Dawn concludes what the poll means for Pakistan - a "journey of departure from a troubled past".

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. For more reports from BBC Monitoring, click here. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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