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Poll commentator Pervez

Poll commentator Pervez

Author: Editorial
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: September 25, 2002
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/archive_full_story.php?content_id=10081

Introduction: Look who's keeping an eagle eye on the J&K polls

Who would have suspected that among General Pervez Musharraf's considerable range of natural gifts is a talent for psephology. He has just pronounced that voter participation in the first phase of polling in Jammu and Kashmir was between 2- 10 per cent and has dismissed as 'rubbish', India's claims of a 47 per cent turnout for this phase. We could have bowed before the general's superior wisdom if he had revealed the methodology behind his arrival at these figures. But since he did not care to do this, we may conclude that they emanated from the same source that gave Pakistan Television that wonderful story last week about voters being dragged out of their homes in the Lolab assembly constituency and made to vote. As we all know, the election in Lolab had been countermanded after the killing of NC candidate Mushtaq Ahmed Lone. The only conclusion then that can be drawn from these 'general' facts and figures is that Pakistan's propaganda machinery seems to be working at full tilt.

But let us put this aside and ask ourselves why the general is so anxious to rubbish the J&K elections. After all, remember that he even had it as one of the important themes in his address to the UN general assembly not so long ago. He had pronounced on that occasion that 'India's planned elections in Kashmir will once again be rigged. Such elections, under Indian occupation, will not help peace; they may set it back, in fact. The people of Jammu and Kashmir must be allowed to exercise their right to determine their own future in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council'. Here, in fact, is the answer to the riddle raised earlier. A successful election in J&K would demolish the general's carefully constructed thesis that there is a popular insurgency raging in the state, with 'freedom fighters' leading the way. It hasn't helped Pakistan's case that US ambassador to India, Robert Blackwill, has had words of endorsement for the election process in the state thus far.

What Musharraf will not acknowledge, of course, is that if any election process is under a cloud it is the one he plans to preside over on October 10 in Pakistan. So dismal are his democratic credentials and so deliberate his 'preparations' for it, that to this day Pakistanis are not quite sure whether their tryst with the ballot box will indeed materialise. Given this state of affairs, we would urge the general to address the crisis of confidence over his own electoral project rather than raise doubts about the credibility of the J&K polls.

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