'Situation Improving In Kashmir'
28 July 2007
Srinagar: Maintaining that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir was fast improving and that ceasefire along the border was in place, Defence Minister A.K. Antony on Saturday said that India wanted real peace with its neighbour (Pakistan). Though the recent incidents in Pakistan had slowed down the peace process, it was a temporary phase, he said. Concluding his two days' extensive visit to Kashmir, Mr. Antony told a news conference that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had taken a number of initiatives to normalise the situation, both in the State and with Pakistan. 'The peace process has produced some success and we shall have to accept that,' he said. 'There have been certain developments in Pakistan which have slowed down the process but I believe it is a temporary phase and I hope the situation will improve.' Mr. Antony said that even with China the relations had taken a leap and 'we will be holding joint exercises with them in China. Who could have imagined this a year back?' Though the Minister refused to comment on the fate of People's Democratic Party's demand for reduction in troops, he said the situation was fast improving in the State and violence had come down. 'There is a wrong perception that the entire State is in trouble. The violence is confined to certain pockets but it is a fact that we must take forward our efforts till complete normality is restored,' he said adding that at the same time the guard cannot be lowered. Troop reduction Mr. Antony said three committees set up by Prime Minister to look into the issue of reduction in troops were on the job. 'I think the report of one committee is in the final stage,' he said. 'Since these committees are there, it will be premature on my part to say anything,' said the Minister who met Governor S.K. Sinha, Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and a delegation of PDP leaders headed by its president Mehbooba Mufti. Responding to a question Mr. Antony said that army was here to protect the people and any violation of human rights was being viewed seriously. 'We will not tolerate violations and we take appropriate action.'