Pakistan President General Musharraf has been "elected" by the National and Provincial Assemblies of Pakistan for a term of five years in office. He is expected to doff off his uniform on October 16, and become a civilian president and his country is expected to join the comity of democratic nations once again. His election did not evoke much response here except some two to three hundred workers of the Hurriyat Conference (Mirwaiz) taking out a procession from Mirwaiz Manzil in Rezvar Kadal of old city and passing through different areas of the city raising slogan in his support. The workers of this organization where not joined by any people on seven kilometer tract up to historical Lal Chowk as has been happening with such rallies in the past. The rally not gathering strength on its way may smack of skepticism amongst the common people but his return has rekindled hope in a section of Kashmir leadership that the stalled dialogue with New Delhi will be resumed.
The composite dialogue between New Delhi and Islamabad that had been initiated two years back had suffered reversals for uncertain political situation in Pakistan. New Delhi had almost wriggled out of the dialogue. It had not only started rethinking about its multi-pronged approach for finding ways and means for resolving Kashmir problem but abandoned it. The enthusiasm it had shown in holding meetings with various political groups of the state etherized after Islamabad was caught up in grip of agitations by lawyers and right wing political parties. Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh who was expected to visit Islamabad to give a push to the on going talks between the two countries postponed his visit without announcing any date for the visit. The question arises that if the composite dialogue for resolving all issues including that of Jammu and Kashmir are reinitiated before elections is held in Pakistan for the National Assembly. If the back to back expert-level talks on conventional and nuclear confidence building measures going to be held in third week of October are an indicator it seems that the Secretary level talks between the two countries will be resumed before the National Assembly elections. In fact New Delhi needs not to be in double mind as to who comes to power in coming elections in Pakistan but instead pursue the process of reconciliation more vigorously for finding an amicable solution of all outstanding problems between the two countries. If an opinion poll conducted in sixty two cities of Pakistan by the International Public Opinion Polls (IPOP) a United States based research organization are taken as authentic President Musharraf enjoys greater popularity among people of Pakistan than former premiers Benazir Bhutto and Mian Nawaz Sharif and there are indications that even after the elections there will not be much of drift in Pakistans policies in South-Asia. The press briefing by Pakistan Foreign Office spokes person Tasnin Aslam on Tuesday has more reconciliatory notes than complaints. Her denial of India having opened Siachen to international tourist was suggestive that she did not want to join issues with New Delhi but make a fresh start for reinitiating the dialogue between the two countries.
Sixty years history bears testimony that neither acrimony nor procrastination has paid to the two countries; instead it has spawned mistrust and wars thus creating problems for teeming millions living much below poverty line in the two countries. It is high time for the two countries to pursue the goal of peace in the region by finding solution of all problems including that of Jammu and Kashmir on the basis of justice and fairplay.