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Time not right for troop withdrawal: JK CM
Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
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March 03, 2007 22:31 IST

The Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Saturday said that the slogans of demilitarisation and withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act were being raised by certain political forces just for their vested interests.

Talking to media men at Salamabad in Uri near the Line of Control after laying the foundation stone of Primary Health Centre, Azad said: "Withdrawal of troops was linked to improvement in the over-all security situation in the state and once that happens the troops will automatically go back to the barracks."

The chief minister said that the present situation was not ripe enough for withdrawal and any hasty step in this direction could be exploited by the militants that can result in loss of gains made over the years and can also lead to loss of lives.

"The withdrawal of troops is linked to security of people of the state and cannot be done on the demands of political parties," he told newsmen.

"We have reached a crucial stage where militancy would either completely vanish in coming days or become more lethal. Withdrawal of troops cannot be made at this crucial stage," he said.

He said that the state government was ready for cross-LoC trade but Pakistan's lack of interest was a hurdle. "We had sent a list of traders to Pakistan in November 2005 but they have not cleared their visit yet," he said.

Meanwhile, former chief minister and ruling Peoples Democratic Party patron, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on Saturday said that its demand for troop reduction and revocation of AFSPA are the major formative features of the peace process that would have discernible and instantaneous impact on the ground situation in Jammu & Kashmir.

"I am both sure and confident that our proposals would get a positive response from the Government of India, as it is the only way to move forward," Mufti told newsmen in Jammu.

He pointed out that the central government can't spurn the PDP's proposals as, if it does so, it would be the biggest setback to the peace and reconciliation process."

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