Pakistan’s Leap of Faith

Final results in Pakistan’s general elections are not yet in, but if the early signs are an accurate indication, the February 2008 elections will go down in history as a major defeat for President Pervez Musharraf and the political forces aligned with him. Depending on how the post-election bargaining develops, this election could actually go down as the first time in Pakistan’s 60 year history when a peaceful transition of political power occurred.

Not that Pakistan’s elections on Monday were without violence – more than a dozen people were killed in incidents linked to the elections. But in a country that has seen a sharp increase in terrorist attacks and growing political animosity, with several dozen killed in single terrorist incidents in recent months, election day was surprisingly calm in most parts of the country, and Pakistanis the day after the election seem to breathing a collective sigh of relief. Concerns about attacks contributed to abysmally low voter turnout in certain parts of the country, including the North-West Frontier provinces. But at polling sites throughout the country, turnout seemed to increase in certain areas as the day continued without any major incidents.

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