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Hopes on hold as lection approaches

Reforms implemented by Pervez Musharraf have shown good results. The hope now is that next month’s election of a civilian government will not take Pakistan back to the bad old days.

Ask anyone in the corridors of power in Pakistan how the country would have coped with recent political and military turmoil had its finances been as weak as they were three years ago and you are likely to be greeted with a nervous smile.

Nobody cares to speculate what the outcome for Pakistan's economy would have been had the September 11 attacks taken place three years ago, before general Pervez Musharraf and his team began to implement a reform programme. The same goes for the war in Afghanistan that has once again turned Pakistan into a frontline state, or the ensuing terrorist attacks and lawlessness that have driven out foreign investors, or last December's nuclear showdown with India that cost the country at least $250 million in additional defence spending.

The fact that Pakistan's economy was able to withstand these shocks and continue to expand indicates that the fundamentals are sound.

Now attention is focused on October 10, when Musharraf will in theory hand over to an elected civilian government. Most political observers agree that the military leader's real genius lies in the fact that he does not fit the commonly perceived mould of the Third World putschist.

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