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J&K parties welcome Pakistan poll verdict

By Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
February 20, 2008 19:38 IST
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Mainstream and separatist politicians in Kashmir have welcomed the election results in Pakistan. 

"The credit goes to Pakistan President Parvez Musharraf who ensured fair, free and peaceful elections in the country," Professor Abdul Gani Bhat, chairman of the moderate All Parties Hurriyat Conference group, said in Srinagar.

"As far as the results are concerned, I think the fair election has produced a fair change, which will enable the people of Pakistan to move forward towards a brighter tomorrow and a better Pakistan," Bhat said.

"Kashmir will figure as prominently in the new coalition agenda as it used to be in the last six decades," Bhat said.

He said, "The ongoing peace process between the two countries should hopefully pick up a faster pace and produce results in terms of the settlement of issues in particular Kashmir issue."

Geelani, on the other hand, believed that the "poll verdict in Pakistan was basically against Musharraf and his policies".

"Musharraf had shifted the focus from Kashmir being the core issue in India-Pakistan relations and the people of Pakistan have rejected his policies. I hope the new government in Pakistan helps the just cause of the Kashmiri people," Geelani said.

"The change for democracy is welcome in Pakistan and we hope the new government there helps pick up the pace of the peace process between the two countries, which had somehow slowed down in recent years," ruling Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti said.

"The people of Pakistan have through these elections established the credibility of Pakistan which was otherwise on the brink of a collapse," a senior opposition National Conference leader said. 

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Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar