Pakistan Investors Positive After Polls

The KSE-100 rose 443 points to close at 14,797, an increase of about 3% after peaceful polls seen as largely free, fair and transparent. People of Pakistan have spoken and handed a resounding defeat to the ruling coalition. The results of Pakistan Elections 2008 indicate that President Pervez Musharraf has delivered on his promise of free, fair and peaceful polls. Sen Tariq Azim and Mr. Shujaat Chaudhry of PML(Q) have both graciously accepted the outcome and indicated their readiness to sit in the Opposition. Musharraf has indicated he is ready to work with the winners. These are history making events for Pakistan.

Another important development is the lackluster performance of religious parties in sharp contrast to the 2002 election held in the aftermath of the US bombing in Afghanistan. There is clearly "Mullah Fatigue" in the NWFP which was until recently ruled by the MMA, the religious party alliance. This vote should set to rest any fears of pro-Taleban, Pro- Al-Qaeda religious extremists taking control of Pakistan.

After the elections, the Stock market investors should be overweight in Pakistan, where election-related uncertainty has overshadowed the country's attractive prospects, said Lochiel Crafter, a strategist with State Street Global Advisors.

While no single party has won enough seats to form a government alone, all eyes are on the leaders PPP and PML(N) who are number 1 and number 2 in terms of seat count in the new parliament. The markets are expecting a smooth transition with continuity of economic policies. "If we get a parliament that is hostile towards President Musharraf, then the celebrations could be very short-lived," said Shuja Rizvi, director of broking operations at Capital One Equities.

The leaders of PPP and PML(N), the victorious parties, deserve to be congratulated. However, as they celebrate these wins, they must prepare for the serious challenges ahead. They must not be vengeful. They must show grace in accepting the responsibilities the nation has placed on them. They should reassure all Pakistanis, their supporters and those who voted against them, that they will work for the benefit of the entire nation. They must demonstrate they have learned from their past mistakes when each got a chance to run the country twice. They must not engage in corruption that marred their previous terms in office. They should not seek confrontation with Musharraf, the military and their opposition parties in Parliament. They must sincerely pursue building democratic institutions without derailing the economy that has experienced robust growth for the last five years.
I sincerely hope the PPP and the PML(N) will set aside their differences and not throw a third chance to help build Pakistan into a powerful, democratic and prosperous nation.

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