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DATE=10/20/1999 TYPE=U-S OPINION ROUNDUP TITLE=PAKISTAN DEMOCRACY NUMBER=6-11523 BYLINE=ERIKA EVANS DATELINE=WASHINGTON EDITOR=ASSIGNMENTS TELEPHONE=619-2702 CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Pakistan is on a new course, in hopes of escaping its troubled past. Army General Pervez Musharraf seized power last week from what is widely seen as a corrupt civilian government, signaling what could very well be a new start for Pakistan. U-S editorials are engaged in a discussion over Pakistan's new rule and the hurdles the nation faces. We get a sampling of comment now from __________ in today's U-S Opinion Roundup. TEXT: In his first address to the nation, General Musharraf promised peace talks with India, restraint on nuclear weapons, and a crackdown on corruption and tax evaders in the privileged elite in order to save the country's economy. However, most of these promises have been made before, and the General has given no concrete timeline for these changes. This has led U-S newspaper editorials to question whether General Musharraf's actions will ever reflect his verbal commitments for a democratic Pakistan. The New York Times comments on the challenges that lie ahead, and warns that unless promises are carried out in a timely matter, Pakistan will fall short of any meaningful reform. VOICE: He [General Musharraf] is already off to an encouraging start by withdrawing thousands of troops from the Indian border and giving the central bank a larger role in managing Pakistan's finances. But promises of reform have been made by previous governments without lasting results....General Musharraf apparently seized power without any long-term plan for governing. His most pressing problem will be halting the alarming drain in government finances that has brought Pakistan close to international default. Real reform would require big reductions in military spending, something General Musharraf is unlikely to attempt. ...The idea of a tough military man imposing neat solutions for complex problems is appealing to Pakistan's long-suffering people. It has never brought lasting progress. TEXT: That was the view of the New York Times. The Washington Post, for its part, believes that Pakistan may be dealing with more fantasy than fact. VOICE: Few of us are immune to the seductive image of the man on the white horse - the incorruptible leader who will ride to the rescue, sweep away the corrupt and small minded and impose peace and order. In Pakistan, many ordinary people have such hopes for General Pervez Musgarraf....There's no question, either, that Gen. Musharraf has provided some welcomed assurances in his first few days of power. ...But the General has yet to explain when or how democracy will be restored. There's not much reason to believe that a career military man with no clear road map and no governing experience, will handle these problems more successfully than his predecessors. TEXT: The Washington Post says things in Pakistan can get worse - and likely will - if a military regime ensconces itself. The Boston Globe is also concerned with the lack of a definite timeline for General Musharraf's efforts to bring good government and prosperity to Pakistan. VOICE: [General] Musharraf must end corruption and begin collecting enormous sums of unpaid taxes. He also needs to tell his compatriots and the international community how long his unconstitutional, unrepresentative government plans to stay in power. His silence on that subject was the greatest failing of his Sunday address to the nation. If only to reassure Pakistan's creditors, [General] Musharraf should establish a timetable for the return to democracy. TEXT: Finally, in Baltimore, Maryland The Sun insists that change and organization in Pakistan will not come overnight and all the international community can do now is wait. VOICE: [The] United States and the world institutions have little choice. They are not going to overthrow the new strongman. They will judge him largely on his international conduct, hoping he diffuses the arms race, reduces tensions in India and prods Afghanistan to greater freedom. The issue for the world is whether to renew or cancel rollover loans for the massively indebted nation. Text: That view of the Baltimore Sun concludes this sampling of U-S editorial comment on hopes for Pakistan in the wake of the military coup. NEB/ENE/gm 20-Oct-1999 15:16 PM EDT (20-Oct-1999 1916 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .