J&K polls free and fair: Russia
15 October 2002
MOSCOW: Russia hailed the Jammu and Kashmir elections as ''free and fair'' and said they had opened the way for an early normalisation in the region. ''India''s long-standing democratic traditions and smooth electoral mechanisms have determined a free and fair character to the electoral process in the State,'' the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement issued on Monday night. Moscow sees the elections as evidence that the Central Government and the people of Jammu and Kashmir are both ''committed to bringing the situation in the State back to normal''. ''Despite attempts by extremist elements to intimidate Kashmiris, they failed to disrupt the vote,'' the Foreign Ministry said, expressing the hope that ''the successful elections and the formation of a coalition Government would create fresh opportunities for speedy normalisation in Jammu and Kashmir.'' In a separate statement, the Ministry cautiously welcomed the outcome of the parliamentary elections in Pakistan as confirming the President, Pervez Musharraf''s ''declared policy of restoring and consolidating the constitutional principles of Pakistani statehood and democratisation of social and political life.''.