Ahead of crucial meet, Azad says no cut in troops
19 March 2007
Indo-Asian News Service
New Delhi: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad Monday reiterated his opposition to any reduction of troops in the border state even as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is set to meet People's Democratic Party (PDP) patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed to sort out differences between the two coalition partners.Azad, who met the prime minister here Monday, said he would not cut central troops in Kashmir - a demand made by the PDP. 'I have to look after my people,' Azad said after his brief meeting.He refused to comment on the reported threats from the PDP to pull out of the ruling alliance, but added: 'Security-related issues should never be used as a political weapon.' Manmohan Singh has already spoken to Sayeed Sunday, inviting him for talks and seeking his cooperation to avert the crisis for the Congress-PDP coalition.Sayeed is scheduled to meet the prime minister Tuesday.In Jammu, the PDP ministers boycotted the state cabinet meeting Sunday for the third time, saying they were unhappy with the Congress's reluctance to reduce troops in Kashmir. The PDP has scheduled a crucial meeting of its political affairs committee on March 25 to take a final decision on withdrawing from the ruling coalition.