US rejects Pak description of J&K polls being sham
19 September 2002
The Daily Excelsior
New Delhi: Rejecting Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s description of polls in Jammu and Kashmir as a ''sham'', the U S today applauded the ''extraordinary and remarkable'' voter turnout, and ''saluted'' those who had exercised their franchise despite threats from terrorists. ''It is not a sham. We think India is committed to holding free, fair and inclusive elections in J and K without violence. This is exactly right,'' U S Ambassador here Robert Blackwill told a group of reporters when asked about Musharraf’s remarks on the poll process. Terming the first phase of polls in J and K as ''very positive'', Blackwill hoped that successful conclusion of the four- phased elections in J and K would lead to resumption of the Indo-Pak dialogue within a ''reasonable'' time-frame. Asked about the U S perception about the situation along the Line of Control (LoC), he said infiltration into J and K has ''gone up'' since July end. ''Infiltration across the LoC was down in June and July but since the end of July it has gone up and has been up in August and in September,'' the U S Ambassador said. Blackwill said U S President George W Bush conveyed to Pakistan leader Pervez Musharraf in New York last week that cross-border infiltration across the LoC should end permanently. President Musharraf has given a ''commitment'' to the international community to permanently end cross-border infiltration. ''We expect the Pakistan President to live up to the expectations and end infiltration'', the envoy, who returned from the U S earlier this week, said. Lauding the voters in J and K for the ''extraordinary turn-out'' in the first phase of polls, he said 48 per cent of the electorate exercised its franchise despite threats from terrorists and violence in the State. ''This is remarkable. We hope it (the trend) continues. If there is less violence there will be more turnout,'' he said, terming some media reports about rigging as ''exaggerated'' and that there might have been isolated incidents. ''I would like to salute the individual voters in J and K who came out to exercise their democratic rights despite threats from terrorists,'' he said.