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THREE IS A CROWD

 

Congress-PDP-Centre equation is affected by politics over the armed forces
ZUBAIR DAR IN SRINAGAR & PRAMOD KUMAR IN DELHI | Issue Dated: April 1, 2007
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THREE IS A CROWD Power has strange impact on different people. Those having it do anything to retain it and the political have-nots go to any extent to grab it. That explains the Jammu and Kashmir developments for the past week. Out of power for a year and a half, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) has threatened to snap its alliance with the Congress, thereby endangering the four and a half years old coalition government. Even the opposition National Conference (NC) has refused to support the Congress government if the PDP pulls out.

The ostensible provocation is the rejection of the PDP’s demand for reduction in troops and withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act in the Kashmir Valley, by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The PDP wants to convert it into an emotive issue and capitalise on anti-Army sentiment. With at least one fake encounter being reported in the Valley every month for the past six months, Kashmiris are up in arms against the Army. Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad initially rejected the demand and dared his predecessor Mufti Mohamad Sayeed to first surrender their security. Mufti responded swiftly by requesting the Prime Minister to withdraw security provided to him. “We don’t want total withdrawal of troops. We only want restoration of pre-1989 situation meaning withdrawal of troops sent to the Valley after 1989”, says Mehbooba Mufti. Azad thinks internal security will be threatened if troop reduction is affected while Mufti is citing improvement in the ground situation in favour of his argument. The PM too seems to agree with him citing three confidential reports by National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan.

In a conciliatory gesture, the PM wrote to Mufti underlining Mufti’s role in the peace process and resolution of the Kashmir issue. He also invited Mufti to New Delhi for talks. Interestingly, Mufti’s demand comes at a time when the Centre was considering phased reduction of troops from the Valley. “Mufti might have sensed what the Centre was considering and is trying to take credit,” says Sheikh Showkat Hussain, Law Professor at Kashmir University.

At stake however, is the fragile faith of the people of Kashmir in the peace process. For a common man, the controversy over troop reduction is a political game The crisis makes the government struggle to restore faith in the peace process. Political actors need to demonstrate maturity and not rush to populist gimmicks to stick to power or return to power.
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017