Kashmir Politicians Welcome Announcement Of Troops Cut

3 December 2009

Srinagar: While separatist leaders here remained tight-lipped, most mainstream politicians welcomed union Home Minister P. Chidambaram’s announcement that troop reduction in Jammu and Kashmir was on the cards. The home minister told parliament Wednesday that with the improvement in the overall security situation, reduction in the number of troops deployed on ground would be considered in Jammu and Kashmir. Former state chief minister and union Minister for New and Renewable Sources of Energy Farooq Abdullah told reporters here on phone from New Delhi that the home minister had finally given good news to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. “I must congratulate the state chief minister and the prime minister for the announcement made by the union home minister,” Abdullah said Thursday. “Reduction in the number of troops deployed in the state would definitely ease the tensions here and herald the beginning of peace and development in the state,” he added. The former chief minister also praised the central home minister for announcing that the government would speak to all shades of political opinion in the state and was prepared to discuss self-determination, self-rule, autonomy and other such issues. The opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has also welcomed the announcement. Its senior leader and former deputy chief minister Muzaffar Hussain Baig said: “We demanded reduction in troops when we were in power and also now when we are in the opposition. The home minister making the announcement in parliament is definitely a welcome development.” Many other mainstream politicians like former minister and chief of People’s Democratic Front (PDF) Hakim Muhammad Yasin and senior Congress leader and former minister Abdul Gani Vakil also have welcomed the announcement. Interestingly, most separatist leaders, including those in the moderate Hurriyat group headed by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, refused to make any comment on the development. One senior leader of the Mirwaiz group said: “I would not like to make any comment on this”. The separatist leader also requested not to be named.