Why Parties Need To Keep Pakistan's Election in 1970 In Mind While Deciding J&K's Fate

30/12/2014 11:02 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:24 AM IST
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SRINAGAR, INDIA - DECEMBER 23: A man looks at a result board in Sher-e-Kashmir international convention center (SKICC) where counting center is stationed as the vote counting begin in Srinagar, India on December 23, 2014. (Photo by Faisal Khan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

While Indian political parties are still digesting the divided verdict of the J&K poll results announced Monday, wherein the BJP--the right-wing hindu party which is in power at the centre--swept Jammu (the J , and predominantly Hindu part of J&K), however, the Kashmir valley rejected it outright and gave a majority verdict to the PDP, one of the two local muslim political parties of Kashmir.

With 25 seats for the BJP and 28 for the PDP, no party has the numbers (minimum required is 44) to form a government and the situation looks fraught given the sharp, and almost irreconcilable, differences in ideology and political background.

A somewhat similar situation had arisen in the subcontinent 44 years ago when Pakistan held its first ever election in December 1970. This was primarily a contest between the PPP (Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto's party in West Pakistan) and the Awami League headed by Mujibur Rahman in East Pakistan. Against all expectations the PPP got only 88 (out of 144 seats in West Pakistan), while the Awami League got a whopping 167 (out of 169 seats, in the Eastern part). This led to an impasse, given Bhutto's ambitions and Mujibur's majority. The president, General Yahya Khan, who had hoped the new Parliament would frame a democratic constitution, found Mujibur was adamant on a federal structure, which would allow East Pakistan to manage its own affairs (apart from defence and external affairs). Essentially, these differences stood in the way of Mujibur being appointed PM and were at the heart of the ultimate break-up of Pakistan and the creation of an independent Bangladesh.

Indian politicians need to keep the lessons of the 1970 Pakistan election in mind when working towards government formation in J&K. The hunger for power within an arrogant, powerful, all-conquering BJP has to be wisely reined-in when dealing with a victorious local party, the PDP, with a mandate from a people (perhaps) still flirting with dreams of azadi from an oppressive central regime. On the other hand, its quite possible to see some clever political initiatives which will change the troubled course of Kashmir's future.

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