08/19/2008, 00.00
PAKISTAN

People celebrate as war in the north and the economy worry post-Musharraf Pakistan

As the dictatorship end (almost) painlessly, people hand out sweets and release balloons. Rhetoric aside the government must now tackle real problems like the radical Islamist revolt in the north, the high number of displaced people and unemployment.
Lahore (AsiaNews) – A day after President Musharraf tendered his resignation Pakistanis are celebrating. For human rights activists it is now important to rebuild a free society and a stable economy after the dictatorship.

Last night National Assembly Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza accepted the resignation of President Pervez Musharraf and Senate Chairman Muhammadmian Soomro took over as acting president.

Moments after President Pervez Musharraf’s announcement, political workers, students, representatives of civil society and lawyers gathered outside the Supreme Court and the Parliament House to celebrate their victory.

In the streets people gave away sweets, released balloons in the air and called upon the government to fulfill its promise of restoring the judges Musharraf sacked.

Many coalition government leaders announced that sacked judges would be back at work in two or three days.

At the same time many Pakistanis are demanding Musharraf be put on trial for his crimes against the nation.

Supreme Court Bar Association president Aitzaz Ahsan has demanded that former president be given a fair trial on charges of treason.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, son of the late Benazir Bhutto and chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party, hailed President Pervez Musharraf’s resignation. He also stated that the next president ought to be from his party, adding though that he was not directly involved in the process of selection because he was away for his studies in the United Kingdom.

“After the martyrdom of my mother I said that democracy was the best revenge—and today it was proved true,” the PPP chairman told the media as he commented Musharraf’s resignation.

In a public statement Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Chairwoman Asma Jahangir said that no one will be shed any tears for Musharraf.

Still “while the coalition partners and the people at large have good reason to celebrate their victory, the present should be a sobering moment,” she said.

Expectations in the population are high and the country must find its way out of the problems created by the dictatorship.

“The issues that will tolerate no delay,” she said. Now the authorities must take “steps to fight ongoing insurgency in the north and [deal with] the plight of the internally displaced persons” that are the result of the former. They must also implement “a crash programme to deal with the economic crisis, especially the rising cost of living and unemployment” and respond to “the urgency of guaranteeing life and liberty.” (QF)

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