Indian press lambaste Nawaz's exile

NEW DELHI, Dec 12: The decision by the government to pardon and exile Mr Nawaz Sharif was pilloried in the Indian press on Tuesday. All the major national dailies said Chief Executive Gen Musharraf's move was purely self-serving, and some warned India would have to keep a close eye on political developments inside Pakistan.

"It is quite clear that General Musharraf's motives have everything to do with perpetuating his regime and nothing to do with altruism," said the Pioneer.

Sending Sharif into exile has left Musharraf with "the political space he needed to 'govern' Pakistan", said The Hindu.

"His credentials to speak for Pakistan on the international scene may also have received a boost as a result. This is a factor that India cannot ignore," it added. Several papers suggested that the latest move reflected badly on the government's anti-corruption drive.

"The Sharif clemency is bound to raise doubts about the military's capacity to deliver on its promise of accountability and transparency," the Indian Express said.

The Times of India went further. "By striking a deal ... the general has backtracked on his teflon agenda and lost the legitimacy to rule," the Times said.

"His actions have proven that he is at least as great a political opportunist as any other supposedly corrupt leader in Pakistan."

The Pioneer said New Delhi's main concern should be the prospect of political instability in Pakistan.-AFP