"The United States welcomed the successful October conclusion of 2002 elections in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, where nearly half of the electorate cast ballots. The elections resulted in the ousting of the long-dominant National Conference party, allies of the national coalition-leading Bharatiya Janata Party, thus bolstering the credibility of the process and dampening criticism from some quarters that the elections were flawed or 'farcical.' The opposition Indian National Congress and the regional People's Democratic Party (PDP) won a combined 36 seats in the state assembly, and Congress leader Sonia Gandhi agreed to a first-ever power-sharing coalition. PDP leader Mufti Mohammed Sayeed has assumed the office of Chief Minister vowing to bring a 'healing touch' to state politics. His 'common minimum program' includes controversial policies -- including the freeing of jailed political prisoners -- that have been lauded by some and criticized by others. The new government's seeming moderation has brought renewed hopes for peace in the troubled region. The United States had urged the holding of free and fair elections to be followed by renewed dialogue between India and Pakistan to resolve their long-running dispute. India has made clear that it will not engage such dialogue until Islamabad has put an end to cross-border infiltration of Islamic militants into Indian-held Kashmir. Following the elections, New Delhi announced a major troop redeployment after a tense ten-month standoff at the India-Pakistan frontier. Militant separatist groups in both Pakistan and Kashmir have stated that the ground realities are unchanged and so their violent campaign will continue. In apparent confirmation of these statements, numerous coordinated attacks in November 2002 killed dozens. This report will not be updated."
CRS Report for Congress, RS21300
United States Department of State, Foreign Press Center: http://fpc.state.gov/