January 2002 News

Hurriyat to form its own election commission for polls in J&K

28 January 2002
The Daily Excelsior

Srinagar: The All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) will form its own Election Commission to conduct polls in Jammu and Kashmir for electing true representatives of the people, who could then hold talks for resolving the Kashmir issue peacefully, a statement by the 23-party conglomerate said here today. ''All the political and social parties, including the ruling National Conference are free to contest the elections,'' it said. The decision was taken by the seven-member APHC executive committee during a day-long meeting here today. However, the statement was silent on the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections, scheduled to be held in October this year. It also did not speak whether the amalgam will give a boycot call of the Assembly elections or will allow the people to participate in the process. The Hurriyat spokesman, who read out the press release said, the meeting also discussed the question raised by some quarters about the representative character of the conglomerate. ''The Hurriyat represents the historic and political aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and it was felt necessary to prove it on the ground and silence all those questioning its representative character,'' the spokesman said. He said it was decided to form an independent, honest and credible election commission to conduct free and fair elections for electing true representatives who could then participate in the meaningful tripartite talks, involving India, Pakistan and the people of the State. The spokesman said the election process will be completed in three phases. In the first phase, the elections will be held in Kashmir, second phase will cover Jammu and Ladakh and the final phase in the ''Azad Kashmir''. The spokesman said a committee was also formed who will present a detailed report within a few days about the formation of the election commission and its members. ''The APHC hopes that those who believe in democracy in the world, particularly in India and Pakistan will help to complete this democratic process and will not create any hurdles.'' Later, talking to reporters, senior Hurriyat leader and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chief Yasin Malik said all political parties, including the ruling National Conference were free to participate in the democratic process, which will identify the real representatives of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Asked who will participate in the elections, as it will be held by the Hurriyat, Mr Malik said the people of the State will take part in the process, which would be recognised by the international community. On who will guarantee the ''free and fair'' elections, he said the people from across the globe will come here to watch the entire process. When asked if it will be a referendum or simple elections, Mr Malik said the process will choose the representatives who will later participate in the trilateral talks. About the composition of the Election Commission, he said the members having credibility across the world will be taken into the Commission. The spokesman said in the changed situation after September 11 terror attacks on the United States, the Hurriyat Conference believes that no problem could be resolved with might and all issues could be resolved peacefully through dialogue only. He said the meeting expressed concern that the Kashmir issue has become a ''bone of contention'' between India and Pakistan and has threatened peace in South Asia. ''The only solution to the Kashmir issue is holding of tripartite talks,'' the statement said.


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