Top Pakistani newspapers have so far kept the Jammu and Kashmir poll off their comment pages but the massive voter turnout in the first phase of polling and the BJP’s game plan for the Valley were finding prominent space in news reports.
An online poll by Dawn, one of the leading dailies of the country, concluded the first phase of voting as free and fair.
The survey found 52% of respondents reacting favourably for the ongoing election.
The turnout of more than 70%, even in pro-separatist constituencies, during voting on November 25 was widely reported in Pakistani newspapers.
The reportage in most English and Urdu dailies such as Nation and Daily Times focused on the BJP’s foray into the Kashmir Valley with an aim to win more than 44 seats in the 87-member assembly.
“Elections in Kashmir could be an important factor in Modi’s rhetoric ... The BJP aspires to garner votes in Jammu and Ladakh by replacing the Congress and National Conference alliance,” wrote columnist Saman Zulfqar, who works with the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI), in a rare write-up in the Daily Times.
Most newspapers apparently have held back editorials or analysis on the election until all the five phases of the poll are over on December 20.
The editorial silence and the matter-of-fact reportage were a departure from the past when the Pakistani media always dubbed democratic exercises in Jammu and Kashmir as unfair and carried out under duress with the aid of security forces.
Daily Times juxtaposed its poll coverage with equal prominence to boycott calls by separatists, militant violence and crackdown on separatist leaders.