LAHORE The Muttahida Qaumi Movements decision to boycott the AJK Legislative Assembly elections is, apparently, an overreaction and at the same time a blow to the electoral process in an area where the people have been waiting for the day when they will be able to exercise the right to self-determination promised by the UN resolutions. The decision by a party which is a coalition partner of the PPP, both at the Centre and in Sindh, has also exposed the fragility of their alliance. The AJK High Courts verdict to stay the election on three seats, two of them in Karachi, provided the MQM with a pretext to say that it be counted out of the electoral process. The MQM had put up its candidates on all 41 LA seats, which was rather surprising for most of the parties because they did not believe it had much following in AJK. The nomination papers of one candidate were rejected, after which 40 contestants were left in the field. If the AJK High Court had stayed elections on three seats, it would have been better for the MQM to respect the decision and contest elections on the remaining seats. At the same time, it should have challenged the High Court decision before the Supreme Court and argued that the impugned judgment was flawed. Participation in the election would have provided the MQM with an opportunity to gauge its popular support in the state, which was rather a new region for them, and prepare a strategy to enhance it in future. But its boycott decision has deprived it of this opportunity. It is not clear who would be benefited by the MQMs decision as the party has not directed its supporters, if any, who should they vote for in Sundays elections. The boycott is likely to further weaken the alliance between the PPP and the MQM and the latter may choose to part ways with the former. Sundays elections are also important for the PML-N as this is the first time that it has put up its candidates in AJK. In the past, it has been supporting the Muslim Conference. During the current term, the Muslim Conference did not do much for the Kashmir cause, visits abroad by various leaders and their utterances notwithstanding. The new government, no matter which party gets a chance to form it, will have to work very hard for the rights of the Kashmiri people at a time when the world community has turned a blind eye to the atrocities that the Indian security forces are committing in Occupied Kashmir every day. The new government will also face the challenge from the international community which, in order to keep its friendship with India, is advising Pakistan to settle the Kashmir dispute through bilateral talks with India rather than seeking implementation of the UN resolutions. Superfluous to point out that bilateral talks between the two countries on the subject have borne no fruit so far.