But these elections are only a beginning. It is now up to the elected representatives of the people and their leadership to forge a path that strengthens democratic institutions (parliament, judiciary, election commission, media) while eschewing political vendettas and protracted wrangling. Musharraf has a clear role to play in this by gracefully stepping aside and honoring the wishes of the people who voted "no-confidence" in him with an overwhelming majority. He now needs to let Pakistan's healing begin from the nightmare of the last 12 months. The country may then still manage to look back at the positives of the tumultuous last year which did , at least, produce a clear and more organized grassroots yearning for democracy and the rule of law.
There is indeed a brighter ray of hope after these elections. Let the leaders who have gained power learn from their worst mistakes of the past and start the process of re-building Pakistani institutions afresh. The problems are vast but at least today there is a palpable sense of hope. Let the newly elected leaders and Musharraf ensure that this moment does not slip away.