March 2007 News

Mufti demands troop reduction in Kashmir

21 March 2007
The Daily Times
Iftikhar Gilani

New Delhi: Ahead of his meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader Mufti Mohammad Sayeed said on Wednesday that his party would not agree on anything but reduction of troops in the state. The issue is threatening to tear apart the coalition in Srinagar, where the ruling Congress party, intelligence agencies and the army have rejected the idea of withdrawing troops in the state. Mufti Sayeed is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Singh on Thursday (today). Sayeed made it clear that his party would not wait for a long time for reduction of troops from civilian areas of the state. Every day counts, Sayeed told reporters shortly after arriving here from Srinagar. Asked whether this was the end of his coalition with Congress, Sayeed said, I would not like to open my cards like this ... All I want the Centre to understand is that some modalities need to be worked out. To a query about setting up a committee by the Centre on the issue of troop reduction, Sayeed said, We want to make it clear that we are not in favour of any window dressing. Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpyee chose Kashmir as the state to extend the hand of friendship to Pakistan ... so similarly, if troops were taken out of the civilian areas, it will be a big confidence-building measure between the two countries, Sayeed said. Commenting on the repeal of anti-terror laws like Armed Forces Special Powers Act, he said, The role of the army needs to be cut short .... These laws provide a licence to the army and security forces to kill anyone. He said the recent incidents of fake encounters had underlined the need to reduce troops and vacate residential and agricultural areas, where the soldiers had completed their task


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