Pakistan political crisis leaves Kashmiris worried


Srinagar : As Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and his rival Nawaz Sharif head for a showdown amid an intensifying political crisis, Kashmiris are worried that the unrest in the neighbouring country could affect their hopes for peace.

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Many Kashmiris, including young and old, men and women, remained glued to their TV sets, watching the opposition ‘Long March’ to Islamabad with deep concern and some even terming the political battle in Pakistan as “unfortunate”.

“It is unfortunate. The whole country appears to be heading for another long spell of uncertainty. We cannot remain unconcerned about what happens in Pakistan,” said Muzaffar Ahmed, 48, a college teacher.

“If the country heads for some sort of anarchy, it would have a serious fallout in Kashmir and our hopes for peace,” Ahmed said.

Even fruit sellers, street vendors and small shopkeepers were worried about the political brinkmanship the two Pakistan leaders are indulging in.

“They had first said they would work for consolidating democracy in Pakistan. Now the only course they are headed towards is chaos and confusion. Politicians are all like that,” said Mehraj-ud-Din, 31, a fruit seller in Residency Road area of Srinagar.

Mohammed Hanief, 32, a government official, said the Pakistani leaders have made of mockery of democracy.

“They have made a joke of democracy. First, the restoration of the judges, and now the restoration of the Nawaz brothers. Agreed, Zardari might be acting in a very selfish manner, but who among these leaders seems to be really bothered about what happens to Pakistan?” Hanief said.

Anxiety gripped Pakistan, as former prime minister Sharif Sunday defied government attempts to place him under “house arrest”, vowing that protests against the Zardari rule would go on.

Sharif has thrown his support behind a protest campaign by anti-government lawyers that threatens to bring a political crisis to Pakistan, a year after civilian rule returned to the country.

As news channels devoted maximum time to the latest news from Pakistan, the most deprived here are the children who haven’t been able to watch a movie or a cartoon for the last two days.

“Papa keeps on changing one news channel after the other. Something serious is happening in Pakistan,” wondered Danish, 14, of Abiguzar area of the city.