The verdict of Election 2008 seems to be: (a) innovative; (b) Islamic; and (c) internationally relevant.
What is being interpreted as “sympathy vote” for Pakistan People’s Party may as well be the people’s inclination towards a “blind date" (PPP being the only major party which is compelled to give a new prime minister since the assassination of its leader Benazir Bhutto on December 27). The verdict has given a second place (but not a second chance) to Nawaz Sharif and also some breathing space to President Pervez Musharraf.
Contrary to headlines in the moderately enlightened media, Musharraf allies didn’t face the voters’ “wrath”: PML (Q) is down but not out. Add to this the seats won by the MQM plus some of the independent candidates, and the message to Musharraf seems to be that he can stay but as a dignified onlooker. Conclusion 1: leadership with consensus, and please try to be innovative!
Regarding the Islamic identity, PPP has been the overtly “pro-West” party and its success does not match the collective pool of seats won by Nawaz, MQM, the religious element, PML (Q) and others who fall back on somewhat similar vernacular identities despite their many differences. Conclusion 2: it still is the “Islamic Republic” of Pakistan (and unity in such diversity may be discovered most effectively through the ideals of the founding fathers).
On the issue of Pakistan’s involvement in global politics, when Bill Clinton visited Pakistan on March 26, 2000 (18 months before 09/11), he did some straight talking through a live television broadcast. With dignified silence we listened, for the sake of whatever was true and apt in what he said. Now, with dignity again, our collective consciousness seems to be sending back Bill’s message to his successors in case they need it as much as we did (or just in case they need it more): “With the right vision rooted in tomorrow's promise, not yesterday's pain – rooted in dialogue, not destruction, Pakistan can fulfill its destiny as a beacon of democracy in the Muslim world.”
Mr. Clinton promised that if Pakistanis chose this path, “The United States will walk with you.'' Through Election 2008 the people of Pakistan seem to be stating that the US can make use of the same virtues (i.e. “the right vision rooted in tomorrow’s promise, not in yesterday’s pain – rooted in dialogue, not destruction”) in order to fulfill its destiny as a beacon of democracy in the world. Conclusion 3: “if” the Americans choose this path, Pakistan will walk with them (P.S. We hold these truths to be self-evident).