Indian Army voices reservations over Kashmir demilitarization

via IANS published on January 9, 2007

JAMMU: The Indian Army has, perhaps for the first time, publicly voiced serious reservations over possible demilitarization of Jammu and Kashmir – as voiced by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf – and said the demand is neither new nor acceptable.

The Army has also warned of the dangers of demilitarization in the light of the current situation in Kashmir and also because of its strategic geographical location.

The Army view is contained in an article titled “Demilitarization in Kashmir: The Area of Caution” by defence spokesman Lt Col S D Goswami released to the media on Tuesday.

“Pakistan’s proposal of demilitarization of Kashmir means complete withdrawal of troops not only from the borders but also from such urban centres like Kupwara, Baramulla and Srinagar,” Goswami wrote.

Ruling out this possibility, he said: “There is a distinction between troops returning to the barracks on completion of internal security tasks assigned to them and troops being completely moved out of the area including from border defence duties.”

“Kashmir touches the borders of Pakistan and China. It has suffered four invasions from the western neighbours and one from the northern. Besides, there is cross-border terrorism in which 30,000 people have lost their lives. In such a situation, withdrawal of defence forces would be fatal,” Goswami maintained.

“Even if normalcy is restored and peace returns within the state, troops can go back to the barracks but demilitarisation as such cannot be considered as the requirement of defending the country’s borders still remains paramount, in fact non-negotiable,” he added.

In Kashmir, Indian Army troops defend the 744-Km long Line of Control and the borders with Pakistan and China, besides fighting insurgency for over 17 years.

Tracing the historical roots of the Kashmir problem, the spokesman said, “The demand for the withdrawal of Indian troops was made by Pakistan immediately after the invaders were routed from the valley (in 1948)”.

He said Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, then the head of Kashmir’s emergency administration, had, in Feb 1948, forcefully rebutted the demand at a public reception in Delhi.

“If the Indian troops are withdrawn, as demanded by Pakistan, who is going to protect the people of Kashmir? I am not going to leave my people in the hands of marauders. Indian troops are in Kashmir to protect my people and they will remain there till normal conditions are restored,” Goswami quoted Abdullah as saying.

“So far as Kashmiri Muslims are concerned, by virtue of the state’s accession to India, they have equal rights as citizens of India and they should avail themselves of these.

“We had decided to work and die for India not in October 1947 but in 1944 when (Mohammad Ali) Jinnah tried to persuade us to join hands with him and support his Two-Nation theory but he failed because we resisted his advances. He has definite reason for wanting to annex Kashmir. He tried to get at the point of sword what he failed to attain by persuasion,” Abdullah had stated.

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