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J&K: PM's letter calms PDP
Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
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March 15, 2007 19:53 IST

A letter by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to ruling Peoples Democratic Party patron and former chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has helped defuse the tension simmering between the Congress and the PDP over the sensitive issue of demilitarisation of the state and withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and has averted a showdown between the ruling coalition partners.

The letter according to highly placed sources said, "I appreciate your concern that the people of the state need better. I also appreciate the direction you gave to the present alliance in the state when you took over the reins of the coalition government in 2002."

Praising the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister for his political wisdom, the prime minister also said in his letter that "he would always look forward to advice and guidance from the PDP patron."

With regard to the PDP's demand for demilitarisation and withdrawal of AFSPA, the letter said while the central government respected Sayeed's concern, the time was still not ripe for such a move.

"We have intelligence reports that attempts would be made to increase infiltration from across the borders during this summer. However, the central government would review the situation in summer when a decision would be taken on the issue of demilitarisation from urban areas of the state."

The Congress and PDP relations has soured ever since the PDP demanded the holding of a special cabinet meet in Srinagar to discuss the issue of demilitarisation and withdrawal of the AFSPA.

In the absence of any assurance from the chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad to hold such a cabinet meet, the senior ministers of the PDP stayed away from the last two cabinet meetings held in winter capital Jammu giving rise to speculation that the coalition government could be heading for a split.

Meanwhile the PDP welcomed the announcement of the central government that it was considering the review of the AFSPA as has been recommended by the Justice B P Reddy Committee.

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