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Kashmir Troop reduction: Mehbooba meets PM

New Delhi March 01, 2007 (Kashmir Newz Desk):

The President of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Ms Mehbooba Mufti met Indian Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh here today to discuss the party demand of troop reduction in Indian administered Kashmir.

A PDP spokesman said Mufti discussed the issues of troop reduction, revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and vacation of agricultural and orchard land and private and government buildings by the security forces in Jammu & Kashmir.

The demand of troop reduction and AFSPA revocation has already created dissensions between the ruling allies Congress and PDP, in Jammu and Kashmir, with PDP boycotting the cabinet meeting on Wednesday over the issue.

While the PDP president was discussing the issue with PM today, Chief Minister, of Jammu and Kashmir Ghulam Nabi Azad said in Srinagar the "demilitarisation isssue wont be allowed to used for publicity".

A PDP spokesman said Mufti urged the Prime Minister to consider the demands 'on merits' as, according to her, implementation of such measures is the only way to strengthen the emerging public faith in the state's political and democratic institutions.

She emphasized that systematic and time-bound reduction of troops and revocation of AFSPA would be the most appropriate and fitting response to the fast changing ground situation in the State.

Ms Mufti said the reconciliatory process initiated by the coalition government in the state, with the active support of the Central Government, "has to a large extent alleviated public alienation and enhanced people's sense of freedom and their faith in democratic means. "

"There is, however, a compelling need to reinforce the political initiatives with adequate administrative measures to completely transform the scenario," she said.

"The cost of not doing so, I am afraid, would be much higher for the State and the nation," she emphasised.

The PDP President added the ground situation in Jammu & Kashmir calls for such confidence building measures earnestly and the country's leadership must grab the opportunity and respond appropriately to the public mood to bring a turn-around in the situation.

She said her party recognizes the role played by the armed forces for the security of the State during difficult times, but this can't be an endless arrangement as it is unfair for the security forces as well as the people of the State.

During the last two days, Ms Mufti held similar meetings with Congress Chief, Mrs Sonia Gandhi and External Affairs Minister, Parnab Mukherhee to put across her party's viewpoint on troop reduction and revocation of AFSPA.


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