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THE tables have turned. Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif is back in the prime minister’s chair and Gen Pervez Musharraf is under arrest and facing trial. Mian Sahib is the first man to be elected prime minister in the country for a third time. He is unparalleled as a Pakistani head of government ousted in a military coup and brought back by popular vote. There may be more reasons why the occasion needs to be celebrated just as it has to be marked with some solemn vows.

In his speech after his election in the National Assembly by an overwhelming majority, the new prime minister made a conscious effort to build on this reputation as a politician who has undergone the course and has learnt. He solicited political consensus, his emphasis on the economy in accordance with the PML-N’s line since its victory in the May 11 elections. He spoke of merit, about economic and social mobility manifest in his promise to have a train run between Khunjerab and Gwadar and before that he talked about respecting the mandates given to political parties. Nevertheless, it was clear that there are a few issues which he is not ready to take up as yet. Mr Sharif did not address terrorism and his mention of the drones was too cautious and too fleeting a remark to qualify as a statement of intent, let alone one of policy. It was a mild protest, a polite complaint, a question left hanging in the air. China in Gwadar was easier to handle and it did elicit a word of praise from the new incumbent for the previous government which had handed over the port’s management to the Chinese.

The supremacy of democracy, a call for consensus, the protest against the drones, the respect for popular mandates — the themes were not out of the routine. Five years ago, the stress was on reconciliation, on the need to shape a national policy on many issues. Those who spoke after Mr Nawaz Sharif’s speech in the assembly on Wednesday did highlight some of the issues where consensus is hard to achieve: law and order in Karachi and elsewhere, and lack of local governments, which was a big subject missing from the first address of a prime minister aspiring to empower people as were energy and terrorism. The new prime minister’s promise in dealing with these problems lies not so much in the numbers he has by his side but in the belief about the security and resultant maturity of the elected collective. Politicians will err and then correct their mistakes, so long as they have the time and the security of tenure.

Comments (7) Closed

Siddharth Jun 07, 2013 09:13am
There is something for all of us to learn from Mr Sharif. A Guy been treated badly by a military government. He left his country but never gave up. After years the same man returns an he returns with dignity. We Indians and Pakistanis should never give up.
Jalaluddin S. Hussain Jun 06, 2013 11:59pm
In spite of his "corrupt" credentials, we should give President Zardari his due: keeping coalition intact for the full mandate period, giving authority of running Gwadar Port, to the Chinese and signing the Gas Pipeline Project with the Iranians. President Zardari must be given the well-deserved pat on the back!
kausik Jun 06, 2013 08:59pm
congratulations to Mia sahib all Pakistanis must rally behind him to support Democracy to succeed and forget all differences to give honeymoon period to new Government and respect peoples choice
khan Sahib Jun 06, 2013 11:07am
Congratulations to all Pakistanis,"We have successfully transformed from a Banana Republic to a Jungle Republic as Lions have taken over charges from Monkeys". Good Luck?
Iftikhar Husain Jun 06, 2013 11:00am
We have to wait and see first hundred days if there is truth in what the new prime minister has pledged in his speech. If there are no sign of improvement it will means it will be hard to deliver. We may have to wait for another five years miracle to happen.
A. R. , Jun 06, 2013 08:50am
Almost all political Pandits had been forecasting a 'hung parliament' as no political party would win a simple majority and the electoral out come will be a coalition government. But the 'nil' performance of Zardari league and the former plus performances of N-league had an attraction for the poor man that if they want things done, they should give N-League, absolute majority in the Assembly. People understood this message of NS as right one, and gave him not only simple, but also the unexpected 2/3 majority. Now when the new popularly elected PM is in his seat of authority, the supreme spirit of the 'democratic will' demands that the sitting President, belonging to the defeated party should immediately resign and the newly elected NA should elect the new President without further delay. Let popular will of the people reign supreme and the whole world should see it supremely working all along with no negative link with the past miserable ruling click.
Ajit Kumar Das Jun 06, 2013 06:30am
There is a huge amount of good will for Mr. Nawaz Sharif in India. Under his leadership, let Pakistan grow as a strong nation, not being iron clad, but wearing a heart that blossoms, reciprocating feelings of love and compassion in the neighbourhood. A.K. Das, India