Notwithstanding the recent ban on the airing of 10 Pakistani news channels in Jammu & Kashmir, both separatists and mainstream leaders on Wednesday remained glued to internet-backed gadgets and private dish TVs to watch polls live from across the Line of Control (LoC), which could impact both separatist politics and militancy in coming days in the State.
Former Chief Minister and People’s Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti was first to tweet on the polls. “Hoping today’s election in Pakistan leads to a stable government as a democratic Pakistan is in the best interests of its neighbourhood especially India,” she wrote on Twitter.
Sources said Ms. Mufti and many PDP leaders were glued to their iPads and television sets to track the polls. “The results will be significant for J&K. In case Army backs Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf candidate Imran Khan to become next Prime Minister, there might be hard days for Indo-Pak relations. We expect PML(N) Shahbaz Sharief to continue to build on the goodwill between the two countries in case he becomes next Prime Minister,” said a senior PDP leader.
Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who closely watched the polls on his cellphone, sees “a neck to neck fight between the PML-N and the PTI. Whoever wins, my suggestion is that Pakistan needs to unite on Kashmir and press for Kashmir being a prime stakeholder in the Kashmir issue and of any dialogue process initiated on it,” said the Mirwaiz.
The Mirwaiz said his party is closely watching Pakistan polls because “people in J&K wish to see a stable and powerful Pakistan that can take initiatives towards resolving the Kashmir issue.”
He said Kashmir did figure in manifestos of Pakistan parties though the poll campaign was dominated by the domestic issues. “Lets hope and pray for strong and vibrant Pakistan, which is important to entire region, including India. I am sure Indian leadership too will be closely watching the developments. Both India and Pakistan has their future interlinked whether Kashmir is there or not. This election is crucial,” said the Mirwaiz.
Another Hurriyat faction chairman Syed Ali Geelani said he wish “to see a stable and prosperous Pakistan. I appeal to all religious and political parties to join hands against terrorism there,” said Mr. Geelani.
Besides the separatist and mainstream leaders, people also evinced keen interest in the Pakistan polls. “Pakistan requires a strong leader to engage with India, end animosity and offer a hope to people of J&K,” said Nazir Ahmad, a businessman in Lal Chowk.
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