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Relief, disbelief in Kashmir as India announces troop reduction

The announcement by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of a troop reduction in Indian Kashmir this winter has evoked reactions ranging from relief to disbelief in the insurgency-hit region. In a statement, Singh said India’s security forces had in recent months succeeded in improving the security situation in Indian Kashmir. “In recognition of the improvement in the situation in the state, the government has decided to reduce the deployment of troops this winter,” the statement said.According to Indian sources, some 200,000 security force members, including 60,000 combat troops on Kashmir’s borders with Pakistan, are currently battling a 15-year-old insurgency against Indian rule in the disputed region. India, which administers the southern two-thirds of Kashmir, has fought two of its three wars with Pakistan over the Himalayan territory since independence from British rule in 1947. Both sides claim it in its entirety. “Kashmir presents a look of a big military colony. If troops are reduced in numbers it will be a big relief,” said Imtiaz Hussain, a university student. “I couldn’t believe my ears that India has decided to reduce troops in Kashmir,” he said, adding that he suspected the move to be linked to Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s announcement of a formula last month to resolve the Kashmir dispute. On Monday Singh said India was willing to “look at all options”. Kashmiri political analyst Tahir Mohiudin saw the move as a first “major show of flexibility” by India.Full Story

OODA Analyst

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