Hurriyat says no to polls, firm on EC
5 February 2002
The Times of India
NEW DELHI: Putting to rest speculations about participation in the forthcoming Assembly polls, Hurriyat Conference on Tuesday said that nobody from the 23-party amalgam would be participating in any such exercise which was aimed at running the administrative affairs of Jammu and Kashmir.Stating that Kashmir was a political issue and had to be resolved through dialogue, former chairman of the Hurriyat Conference Mirwaiz Umer Farooq said that the announcement of the formation of an election commission by the executive body of the conglomerate was aimed at proving the representative character of the leadership and resolving the Kashmir issue.''This move has been made to silence our critics who are never able to gulp the fact that we represent the broader spectrum of the people of Jammu and Kashmir,'' Farooq, who is in the capital, said in an interview.The former chairman also sought to downplay the talks between conglomerate chairman Abdul Gani Bhat and former divisional commissioner of Kashmir Wajahat Habibullah and said ''as far as I believe that was purely a private meeting where even the chairman made the stand clear that the amalgam would stand for any elections aimed at chosing the representatives of the people of the state to solve the issue.''Asked about the formation of the proposed election commission, he said ''this will be an independent commission and will comprise people who have international credibility and are acceptable to India, Pakistan and people of the state.''About the formation of the proposed election commission, Mirwaiz said that after nominating members, the body would hold elections in four phases in entire Jammu and Kashmir, including Gilgit and Baltistan areas in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.Asked how would the Hurriyat Conference sold the idea of the proposed election commission to all political parties in the state and as well as in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, Umer Farooq claimed that the idea had already been floated and ''even the political parties opposed to Hurriyat''s stand have shown positive indications about such an exercise.''The former chairman did not agree that the proposed election commission had become an issue even within the Hurriyat Conference with some sections opposing the idea.''There have been no differences on the issue and the decision of the executive body was ratified by the general council of the amalgam,'' he said.Asked about the abstentions by at least five parties in the general council, Mirwaiz said ''some of them have not been coming for long while. Invitations to some had not been sent due to official error.''About the fate of their proposed election commission in the wake of escalation of tension between India and Pakistan, Mirwaiz said ''we want to see them in a friendly environment which is possible only after resolving the Kashmir issue and even the Hurriyat Conference is also ready to act as a bridge between the two countries.''