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Volume 2, No. 3 - August 2002

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Elections in a Vacuum
Editorial Team

The Indian government appears to have put all its Jammu and Kashmir eggs in the elections basket. The elections "solution" has even been touted by the US and other western interests. Secretary of State Powell has been harping on successful and "free and fair" elections as a beginning of a "solution to Kashmir". Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes had let the government's strategy slip out just before the May Kalachuk massacre by Pakistani terrorists. He had said that India would not take any action against Pakistani terror camps until after the planned September elections - an open invitation for Pakistan to accelerate its jihadi activities in the state.

Pakistan and its proxies "the Hurriyat", as well as the jehadis that control both entities, are of course scared of the elections. An independent poll held earlier this year by Mori International in the state gave a clear verdict: nearly two-thirds wanted to stay in India, and fewer than 10% wanted to secede to Pakistan. If Pakistan leaves J&K alone, the state will slowly limp back to normalcy. That is exactly the reason that Pakistan and its proxies will not allow the elections to be a legitimate success.

Hurriyat chairman Abdul Ghani Bhat got wind of the Muslim from Srinagar who had supervised the opinion poll and called him to inform him that he was on the terrorist hit list in the valley. Abdul Ghani Lone, one of the few Muslim politicians who was willing to make a break from his past and contest elections was assassinated, ostensibly by the ISI, which had tried to convince him to not participate in the elections.

Other non-National Conference politicians have taken the safer route, and one by one are refusing to participate in the elections. Their decision has been made easier by continued killings of local leaders who are pro-India and pro-elections. Terrorists have announced that they will kill one politician a day in the run up to the elections. The results of the forthcoming elections are becoming clearer every day. The corrupt National Conference will
likely return to power, with a meager turnout. Pakistan will once again declare that elections are not a solution, and the "internationalized" Kashmir will be back to square one.

Neither India nor its "mediating/facilitating" partners in the Bush administration have taken into account that Kashmir elections can not be a part of a solution in a vacuum, when the problem continues to foment the fires unchecked from across the LOC. Of course Powell's call for "international observers" and "free and fair elections in J&K" is totally unwarranted. After the Palm Beach, Florida, voting circus, it is very hard to understand how the pro-Musharraf American government is preaching the world's largest democracy about "free and
fair" elections.

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