Kashmiri leaders welcome Pakistan poll verdict

February 20th, 2008 - 9:17 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Ali G

Srinagar, Feb 20 (IANS) Cutting across the party lines and political ideologies, mainstream and separatist leaders in Kashmir have welcomed the people’s verdict in Pakistan. Interestingly, both pro-India and separatist politicians here asserted that the change of guard in Pakistan would help resolve the Kashmir dispute and end the miseries of the people here.

“The elections have restored the credibility of Pakistan as a nation. Had this not happened, Pakistan was on the brink of collapse,” said Ali Muhammad Sagar, senior leader of the opposition National Conference.

MP Mehbooba Mufti, the president of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), welcomed the electoral verdict in Pakistan.

“The people of Pakistan have voted for a change and we hope the new government would restore the peace process between India and Pakistan, which had somewhat slowed down recently,” Mehbooba Mufti said.

Senior separatist leader and chairman of hard line faction of Hurriyat Conference, Syed Ali Geelani said the verdict of the people of Pakistan was fundamentally a verdict against President Pervez Musharraf.

“The people have voted against Musharraf and his policies. He had started shifting focus from Kashmir being the core issue in India-Pakistan relations. I hope the new government supports the cause of the Kashmir people,” said Geelani.

Abdul Gani Bhat, former chairman and the spokesman of the moderate Hurriyat faction led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, said, “The change augurs well for democratic institutions in Pakistan. The people of Pakistan have restored democracy.”

Bhat, however, disagreed with Geelani and did not believe President Musharraf had lost.

“I don’t think he has lost. The president belongs to the entire country,” Bhat said.

Chairman of the Democratic Freedom Party Shabir Shah also welcomed the change in Pakistan.

“We are hopeful the new government in Pakistan would not compromise on Kashmir,” Shah said.

Javaid Mir, the president of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Forum, said the elections in Pakistan have been very transparent and thus everyone should respect the people’s verdict.

“The people of Pakistan have asserted their democratic will and everybody must respect their verdict,” he said.

Ironically, the common man in Kashmir, who till yesterday said Musharraf had been Pakistan’s best bet under the circumstances, also wanted him to bow down now.

“That is what democracy is all about. President Musharraf had said he would continue in chair only as long as the people of Pakistan wanted him to. Now that the poll verdict is clearly against his party, Musharraf must bow down gracefully,” said Muzaffar Ahmad, a college teacher here.

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