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Home / India News / 2007 / May 2007 / May 6, 2007
Phased troop withdrawal key to peace in J and K: Sayeed
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Phased troop withdrawal key to peace in J and K: Sayeed

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and patron of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has said that the withdrawal of troops is vital for restoration of peace in the state.

Sri Gafoorpora (Jammu and Kashmir), May 6 : Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and patron of the People's Democratic Party (PDP), Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has said that the withdrawal of troops is vital for restoration of peace in the state.

Addressing a rally in Sri Gafoorpora, a town located about 60 kilometres from Srinagar, Sayeed said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had given assurances about a phased pull out of troops from the region.

"I do not want to comment on the Governor's (Lt. Gen. (retired) S. K. Sinha) remarks, but what I make of my interactions with the Indian Prime Minister... he has constituted a committee under the defence secretary, another one to review disturbed areas... It shows a lot of commitment from his side. I would rather go by the Prime Minister's opinion than the Governor's," Sayeed told reporters on the sidelines of the rally.

Lt. Gen. (retired) Sinha had on Thursday opposed demilitarisation in Jammu and Kashmir, arguing that the state has borders with Pakistan and the withdrawal of army was not possible until complete normalcy prevailed in the state.

Though agreeing that the security situation in Kashmir has improved considerably, he, however, said "it is not practical to withdraw the army from states like Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and Rajasthan, which border neighboring country".

Troops on combat duty in Jammu and Kashmir could be withdrawn when peace completely prevails in the state. He also rejected Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's joint management (of Jammu and Kashmir) theory, saying that it would be an infringement of India's sovereignty.

Governor Sinha was speaking at a seminar in Srinagar organized jointly by the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, New Delhi and the Jammu and Kashmir Police.

Sayeed has threatened to pull out of the ruling coalition over the issue, but the Centre has formed a panel headed by Defence Secretary Shekhar Dutt to review the ground situation in the state before taking a decision on withdrawal of troops.

Kashmir is one of the world's most militarized regions with an estimated 500,000 troops deployed in the area under New Delhi's control. India had last year withdrawn at least 3,000 troops from Jammu and Kashmir as the level of violence waned in the region.

"Our commitment to the issue has not ebbed the least bit. Action is being taken, efforts are being made to that effect, and they do not require publicity. The defence secretary has received communication apprising him of the affected areas," Sayeed added.

Defence Minister A.K. Antony said on Saturday that withdrawal of troops from the valley would be considered only after making an assessment of the level of violence in the region.

Musharraf had recommended the demilitarisation of the region in a suggestion to solve the vexed problem, which was unacceptable to India, as it argued time was not ripe for withdrawing troops from the state.

Kashmir is at the heart of six decades of rivalry between New Delhi and Islamabad, both of which claim the region in full but rule it in parts. Both countries have fought three wars since 1947, two of them over Kashmir. They launched a peace process in 2004 after going to the brink of a third war over Kashmir in 2002.

Since then they have held talks on a broad range of issues and have seen improvements in diplomatic, transport and sporting links but there has been no significant progress on their core dispute over Muslim-majority Kashmir.

Officials say more than 42,000 people have been killed in the insurgency in Indian Kashmir that erupted in 1989 but human rights groups put the toll at around 60,000.


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