Kashmir, Feb 18 : As Pakistan went to polls on Monday, residents in Kashmir said the elections were a step towards restoring democracy in that violence-hit country.
"I feel the elections are good for Pakistan. This is the first step towards restoring democracy. Whatever happens there in Pakistan effects us here in Kashmir," said Nisar Ahmed, a resident.
While many Pakistanis said they were disillusioned about an election which was aimed at completing a transition to civilian rule. Indians felt the polls would put an end to military rule.
"I feel voting should take place. We are happy for those living in Pakistan. This will solve many issues and also bring to an end the military rule," said Showkat, another resident.
Over 7,200 candidates are contesting the elections and 81.2 million eligible voters are expected to exercise their franchise.
The polling is being held for 269 general seats of the National Assembly and 570 seats of the provincial assemblies. 2,234 candidates are contesting for the 269 general seats, while 5,017 candidates are contesting for 570 seats.
All major parties are participating in the elections. They are Pakistan People's Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q), Awami National Party, Muttahida Qaumi Movement and Muslim League-N. Besides, a large number of independent candidates are also in the field.
It may be recalled that the election date was extended from January 8 to February 18 because of the assassination of former premier Benazir Bhutto on December 27.