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PM links J&K troop reduction to terrorism
Onkar Singh in New Delhi
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April 24, 2007 12:45 IST
Last Updated: April 24, 2007 14:07 IST

Maintaining that security forces were playing an important role in Jammu and Kashmir, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday linked their deployment pattern to the extent of terrorism.

Inaugurating the third round table conference on Kashmir in Delhi, he said the government was committed to ensure that terrorism as well as human rights violations and "undue harassment" of people was "minimised."

Dr Singh chose to side-step the recent controversial and provocative speech made by ageing Hurriyat Conference firebrand leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani in his opening remarks.

Geelani had made the speech on Sunday at Idgah Maidan in Srinagar.

Home Minister Shivraj Patil, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Gulam Nabi Azad, former chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, People's Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti, National Conference chief Omar Abdullah, National Pather Party chief Bhim Singh, Dr Agnishekhar of Punan Kashmir, Yusuf Tarigami of Communist Party-Marxist and local unit of Bharatiya Janata Party are participating in the deliberations.

Welcoming the delegates, Dr Singh claimed the round-table conference is part of "our collective effort to find a solution to the problem of Jammu and Kashmir through a process of dialogue." 

He said during the last one year when the second round-table conference was held in Srinagar, a lot of work has been done.

"Jammu and Kashmir continues to remain at the top of our government's agenda. I repeat, the simple vision which guides me and which I have articulated to university students in Srinagar. It is a vision of Naya Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh which is symbolised by peace, prosperity and people's power. It can and must become a model of real empowerment of the people and comprehensive security for them," he said.

Dr Singh said that deployment of security forces is directly related to the scale of the problems on the ground which they are required to tackle. "Terrorism has left deep scars on the minds of the people and it is our effort to apply a soothing balm on these scars and make a new beginning," he said.

He thanked Justice Sagir Ahmed, Mohammad Hamid Ansari, M K Rasgotra, Dr C Rangarajan and Dr N C Saxena, the chairpersons of five working groups set up during the last round-table conference.

Addressing the conclave boycotted by separatist groups, the prime minister said the vision of Jammu and Kashmir was embodied in a broader vision for India and South Asia, which is importantly linked to a "reconciliation with Pakistan" and a "harmonious neighbourhood."

Favouring a South Asia "free from fear of war, want and exploitation," Dr Singh said, "for this it is essential to resolve our differences and overcome the trust deficit that has cast a shadow on our relations. I and our government remain deeply committed to do everything necessary and possible to realise this vision."

Noting that the round-table process was part of our effort to improve the quality of life of people, he said, "There are difficulties. There are acts of terrorism which derail our efforts towards restoring normalcy. There are concerns about human rights violations and undue harassment of people at large. We are committed to see that these are minimised."

Recognising the "important role" being played by security forces in maintaining peace in J&K and providing a sense of security to the common man, he said, "Every possible action would be taken to see that the deployment of security forces is directly related to the scale of problems on the ground which they are required to tackle."

Dr Singh said his government was committed to a "contructive dialouge" and is confident that this is the best way to resolve problems.

Dr Singh said India has engaged sincerely with Pakistan to improve bilateral relations and resolve all pending issues.

"Efforts have been made and will continue to be made to work for a reconciliation recognising the interdependence of our destinies," he said.

"However, these efforts will not be fruitful unless a peaceful environment is created through honouring of committments made, in letter and spirit, to curb terrorist activities," he said apparently referring to Pakistan's promise in this regard made in 2004.

Dr Singh recalled that he had, a year ago in Amritsar, stated that parts of Jammu and Kashmir could, with active encouragment of the governments of India and Pakistan, work out cooperative, consultative mechanisms to maximise the gains of cooperation in solving problems of social and economic development of the region.

Underlining that Jammu and Kashmir continues to remain at the top of the government's agenda, the prime minister said there are two dimensions to the problems of the state -- one internal and the other external involving Indo-Pak relations.

"It is our intention and sincere desire to advance on both fronts towards resolving problems through a process of dialogue," he said.

He pointed out that various working groups on J&K have made several suggestions.

Referring to the working group on strengthening relations across Line of Control, he said it has suggested a series of measures to promote people-to-people contact across LoC.

"These, in my view, are extremely relevant if we have to move towards the goal of making borders and lines irrelevant and just lines on a map.

Of course, the measure suggested need to be implemented after they are agreed to with our neighbour Pakistan.

He said the working group on confidence building measures across segments of society has made a number of recommendations on improving conditions of victims of militancy.

These include strengthening human rights protection, improving relief and rehabilitation for all segments of people, including Kashmiri Pandits and preserving the rich, diverse cultural landscape of the state.

With PTI Inputs 

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