People participated in election process in Kashmir. By Farooq Ganderbali

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Despite Pakistan trying every trick in its terror book to thwart democratic process in Jammu and Kashmir, the overwhelming participation of people in the ongoing Lok Sabha polls has once again shown that people in the state prefer ballot over bullet. Pakistan was planning to disrupt the democratic process, as it accomplishes extraordinary dividends for grass root electoral politics in the state.

Despite the Hurriyat’s call for a boycott and the threat of violence by terrorist outfits like the Hizbul Mujahideen, the Lok Sabha elections present the Government with an opportunity to bring peace to the valley. The successful conduct of the elections in the state will not only revive popular interest in democracy but will also act as a bulwark against Pakistan’s machinations. Security agencies are of the view that the overall situation in the state is generally in control with considerable success in neutralising top terrorist commanders to cultivate the gains. This also provides opportunity for the administration to fill the governance vacuum.

Terrorism has to be destroyed for development to take place and the very process of bringing democracy is to ensure foundational principle of basic rights of the people. 90 percent people in the state are willing to participate in the elections in the state. Beyond party politics, for a vibrant democracy, there is no easier path than integrating people with the mainstream. The successful elections will not only defeat Pakistan’s nefarious design, but also offer a new hope to the people, with maturity and responsibility.

Experts and Kashmir-watchers reckon that the people of J&K ignored propaganda perpetrated by Pakistan and the ISI, and participated in the elections, hoping for development. With the elections being successful, the terrorists stand frustrated. The heavy participation of people is also indicative of a public desire to rise above the issues raised by separatists — including Articles 370 and 35A.

Democracy is the best antidote to terrorism. Today Kashmiri people in increasing numbers are braving the writ of terrorists and risking their lives in their attempts to marginalize secessionist leaders who count on Pakistan supported terror brigades to enforce their political agenda on the people of Kashmir.

The voters in Kashmir are telling jehadis that they do not wish to be led by the gun any more. Pakistan rulers can no longer claim with the same ease before the international community that pro- Pakistan secessionist outfits, like the Hurriyat, alone represent the aspirations of the Kashmiri people. Nor are they likely to be believed, as in the past, when they claimed that India was holding down Kashmiris from joining Pakistan through brute force.

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