Pakistan euphoria over Musharraf’’s resignation gives way to anxiety

August 24th, 2008 - 2:38 pm ICT by ANI  

Pervez Musharraf

Los Angeles, Aug 24 (ANI): Jubilation over resignation of Pervez Musharraf has quickly given way to anxiety over the sinking economy and growing militancy, and the bickering government that appears incapable of handling the situation.

Pakistan, with its propensity for lightning-fast changes in the national mood, has swung in recent days from euphoria over Musharraf’’s long-awaited exit to deep foreboding over whether its remaining leaders are up to the tasks of pulling the country out of an economic free fall and confronting a burgeoning Islamic insurgency, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Early signs were not auspicious. The coalition government, already paralyzed for months by infighting, fell to quarreling again within hours of Musharraf’’s resignation. Some fear the alliance of the two main parties will unravel altogether.

Only three days after the sudden exit of Musharraf, who was military chief for most of his nearly nine years in power, Pakistans Taliban movement struck one its strongest blows yet at the military establishment, staging a spectacular attack on a huge munitions compound near the capital.

Nearly 80 workers, almost all of them civilians, were killed in suicide blasts carefully timed to coincide with shift changes at the weapons complex.

Moreover, the Taliban threatened to re-ignite a campaign of suicide bombings that plagued urban areas across Pakistan last year, killing and maiming hundreds.

Amid the turmoil, economic indicators have marched steadily downward. With the inflation rate at 25 percent, prices for staples such as rice and bread have doubled or tripled in recent months.

High gasoline prices mean many people can barely afford to drive, or even buy a bus ticket to get to work.

Sometimes people look like they want to cry when they are paying for their groceries, said shopkeeper Ali Mustafa, whose business is teetering because he has extended credit to so many of his longtime customers.

Amid the long political deadlock over Musharraf’’s political fate, once-robust stock prices slid so sharply that investors rioted last month outside the main Karachi exchange, which has lost almost a third of its value this year. The national currency, the rupee, has plunged to historic lows.

In the debilitating summer heat, frequent power cuts fray tempers and interrupt daily routines. Rolling blackouts afflict the entire country, including the once-orderly capital, which was largely shielded from such disruptions until this year.

The unreliable electricity supply has created a new class of haves and have-nots: those who can afford home generators, and those who cannot and must swelter and suffer.

Among Pakistanis, there is a strong sense of grievance against the Bush administration for its years of patronage of Musharraf. Although that support finally faded in the final months of his tenure, it continued long after his compatriots had decisively turned against him. (ANI)

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