Uncertainty falls on Pakistan after nine-year presidency ends

By August 20, 2008

Paksitan (MNN) — Uncertainty lingers after Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's president of nine years, resigned Monday, and only time will tell what will happen next, said Glenn Penner with Voice of the Martyrs Canada.

Penner's first reaction to the news was one of both apprehension and relief. "Even
Christians in Pakistan are somewhat mixed in their response. There are those that are quite glad to see a return to civilian government, and there are others that are also concerned
with, I think, the uncertainty of what is going to happen now for the future."

Musharraf's official resignation came after several months of pressure from inside and outside Pakistan. His reputation suffered fatal blows in 2007 when he ousted 60 judges who were against his election for a second presidential term. A coalition government comprised of the Pakistan
People's Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz was put in place in February 2008, and talk of impeachment resulted in Musharraf's resignation.

Another sticking point between Musharraf and his opposition was his relationship with the West. To Islamic extremists, Christianity has the same ties. Since the majority of the coalition is Islamic, there also are concerns as to how far the government now will swing toward Islam and how that will affect ministry openness. 

In the wake of the news, militant violence has been deadly and is spreading across the northwest. The last deadly attack reported by Voice of the Martyrs Canada was in July when a suicide bomber attacked a contingent of policemen around the Red Mosque after a memorial ceremony. That attack showed the continued power of Muslim radical groups within the country.

How the coalition government deals with this type of violence is the next concern. Their previous tactics of negotiating peace treaties with tribal leaders was far different
from Musharraf's hard-line stand against insurgents.

News sources report that the coalition government has approximately one month to replace the president and make several other major decisions, such as whether or not to re-hire the fired judges. September 1 marks the beginning of  the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, during which businesses shorten their hours. With an Islamic majority in the coalition, major moves could be on hold until October.

Penner says prayer for Christian leaders is much-needed. Pray "that they'll
help Christians in the country to know how to be good citizens at a time when Pakistan needs good citizens.  They need people who are concerned about their country and who are going to be able to make a positive impact." Pray also that Islamic elements in the army will not increase and that the small minority of Christians will find strength in the body of Christ.

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