India to Pak: Take lessons from J&K election

30 December 2008
The Hindustan Times

New Delhi: India on Tuesday asked Pakistan to learn the 'correct lessons' from the Jammu and Kashmir elections and understand that the so-called demand for azadi and the encouragement to indigenous terrorism is not the way. 'I hope Pakistan will draw the correct lessons,' External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told PTI when asked what was the lesson for Islamabad from the successful conduct of elections in J&K. They should understand that the 'so-called demand for azadi and the encouragement to indigenous terrorism is not the way,' he said. To a question whether this was the right time for the Government to address larger issues including the demand for greater autonomy, Mukherjee said 'right now, no new initiatives can be taken by the Central Government' and this task has to be left to the new Government that comes after general elections. He said the UPA government had begun the process of holding talks with leaders across the political spectrum in the state and noted that after a series of round table discussions, certain committees were established and some of them have made recommendations. 'But before the implementation of those recommendations along with the state government, elections came, but the process is on. Right now, no new initiatives can be taken by the central government. 'But that job has to be given to the new government which will come after the general elections. I am sure the state of J&K will take it up from where it was left or from where it was not taken up due to the elections,' Mukherjee said. So far as the Union Government is concerned, it will have to start with the process once again after the election period when the new government is in place, he said. The minister said the large turnout in the polls spread over seven phases was a clear rejection of the boycott call by separatists. 'We are happy about the outcome of the J&K elections. It is not important which party has won the elections. It is important that the faith and confidence of the people of Kashmir in democracy that has won. There was a large turnout despite the boycott call given by the Hurriyat, and despite the most tortuous weather,' he said. Describing the large turnout and their trust in the democratic process as 'very encouraging to us and all over the country', he hoped the political parties which are going to form the government should take that into mind. Asked about the formation of the new J&K government and the Congress role in it, he said several rounds of internal discussions have taken place and that National Conference president and chief ministerial candidate Omar Abdullah would be meeting Congress president Sonia Gandhi.