The rulers of Pakistan have not been accepting the fact that terrorism has been posing a threat to the existence of this land of the pure, and people are in a state of terror. The terrorists have increased their activities. The suicide attack of a woman in Peshawar, the capital of North West Frontier Province, is proof of a worsening situation.
According to report: A woman suicide bomber blew herself up when intercepted by the Military Police personnel at a check-post here at Babar Road in the high security Cantonment area of Peshawar. The lower torso of the bomber was torn into pieces while the upper portion including two arms, head and chest remained intact.
The woman was trying to enter the high security area of the Peshawar Cantonment where FG School for Boys is located a few yards away from the site of the blast in addition to the army residential flats on both sides of the road as well as other important army units are also stationed there.
The burqa-clad woman, seemingly an Afghan national, wanted to cross the check-post but when stopped for investigation, blew herself up.
On the other hand President, Pervez Musharraf said it will be ensured that terrorism and extremism are uprooted from tribal areas and Swat soon and peace restored.
Addressing the under training officers here at Command and Staff College, the President said the law and order situation is improving gradually in Swat and tribal areas.
According to an editorial comment, the PPP-PMLN "summit" in Islamabad has produced a mainstream parties' agreement to prepare a charter of demands aimed at ensuring free and fair elections in 2008. Ms Benazir Bhutto and Mr Nawaz Sharif have postponed the matter of boycotting the coming general elections to first address the problem on the basis of which a consideration of an opposition boycott is possible. While the rest of the political parties in the opposition may have a different point of view, the two leaders think they should first lay down what they want the government to do to allay their fears of a rigged election. It is therefore important that the ARD-APDM committee charged with framing the demands reflects above all the stance of the two mainstream parties.
The meeting in Islamabad has been held against the backdrop of new developments inside the APDM opposition. Even as Mr Nawaz Sharif called for the boycott and vowed that he would get the PPP to agree to a consensual boycott, his party's Punjab president Mr Zulfiqar Khosa put him on notice that in the province where his party has the largest number of votes, the rank and file do not want him to boycott the polls. Earlier, the central working committee of his party had also developed a divided view on the matter of the boycott agreed at the level of the APDM.
Just as Mr Sharif went into consultations with his ARD partner in Islamabad, Qazi Hussain Ahmad of the Jamaat i Islami consulted with his MMA partner Maulana Fazlur Rehman of the JUI to prepare the ground for a consensus. It can be said that while Mr Sharif has succeeded in getting Ms Bhutto to commit to some joint action, Qazi Hussain Ahmad has managed only to deepen the rift with Maulana Fazal. The APDM's one-line agenda of boycotting the elections unless the Supreme Court of Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry is restored has been rejected out of hand by the JUI which points to the fact that the dismissed court was also the result of a PCO.
Meanwhile, as if to push the opposition to extremes, the returning officers have rejected the nomination papers of both Mr Nawaz Sharif and his brother Mr Shehbaz Sharif. As his first and immediate reaction, Mr Sharif has vowed that he will not appeal against the rejection. But the PMLN faction of the lawyers in Lahore has asked him to participate in the elections despite the rejection. One weak legal opinion is that the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) that exonerated the PPP leadership and others from cases running against them also absolves Mr Sharif on the basis of "equity of law" despite the time bar placed on the NRO and despite the fact that the NRO doesn't apply to convicts.
Before the two parties sit down to formulate their charter of demands, they must take a number of facts into account. The PPP leader entered Pakistan much earlier than the PMLN leader - he was sent back once - and has been able to unfurl its campaign effectively. Its stance that it will not boycott the elections in principle has gradually overcome the generally rejectionist public mood in the country. On the other hand, Mr Sharif has been compelled to seek solidarity with the APDM and has somehow subordinated his party's own campaign to the demands of the movement where the biggest religious party - the JUI - is not rejectionist at all.
The PPP and the PMLN are free also to agree on the post-election scenario, but that would depend on Mr Sharif relenting on his decision to boycott. They can agree to amend the Constitution on the basis of the two-thirds majority they are sure to jointly hold after the elections to disband the disabilities placed on their leadership by the outgoing parliament. This agreement between the mainstream parties is rendered essential by the positive signs among the electorate. Arguably, Mr Sharif is the most popular leader at the present moment in the Punjab, and his party rank and file is expecting to score high if not win outright. Ms Bhutto understands that her party will be damaged if she doesn't give it an opportunity to rule again. The PMLN and the PPP must give the lead to the rest of the opposition and not ignore the will of their own parties to contest the elections.