Why?

Troop reductions in Kashmir

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has announced troop reductions in Jammu & Kashmir ahead of his visit, scheduled for next week.

“In recognition of the improvement in the situation in the state, the Government has decided to reduce the deployment of troops this winter,” the Prime Minister said.

The Prime Minister, however, made it clear that “if the levels of infiltration and terrorist violence increase, more troops as necessary will be redeployed.”

“We cannot, however, afford to relax our vigil. We are aware that infiltration attempts from across the border and the LoC continue and the infrastructure of terrorism in the shape of training camps and launching bases remain intact.

“The decision to reduce the deployment of troops would therefore be kept under constant review,” Singh said. [HT]

Even as the announcement came, security forces are battling terrorists who attacked their camp on the banks of the Dal Lake in Srinagar.

4 thoughts on “Why?”

  1. I think India has something like 600,000 troops in J&K. It’s highly unlikely that all of them are being used to handle the insurgency in the Valley. A large percentage are there to deal with a potential conflict with the Pakistani Army. If the likelihood of such a conflict breaking out is relatively low for the time being, it makes sense to move some troops elsewhere, perhaps to the Chinese border. But for multiple reasons, that’s not a diplomatic thing to say.

    Remember that while India’s defense policy towards the Pakistani military has been one of “credible deterrence”, the policy towards the Chinese military has been one of “affordable deterrence.” If you have the chance, it doesn’t hurt to make the affordable deterrence a little more credible.

  2. Eric,

    That’s a very good point.

    What I’m concerned about is it appears that the Indian government is tacitly accepting Musharraf’s simple solution — identify, demilitarise and change status.

    The worst thing about demilitarising prematurely is that if you may have to militarise again. And that will lead everyone to perceive India is on an escalation path…

  3. Nitin,

    I don’t think the GOI is signing on to any of Mush’s proposals, tacitly or otherwise. The background briefing by a ‘senior govt. official’ to the TOI made that pretty clear. The official explicitly said the GOI would never accept Mush’s proposals [underline the plural], given their communal nature.

    Moreover, a cursory look suggests that ‘thinning-out’ of troop levels will occur primarily from the interior, urban areas in both the Valley and Jammu district. That is not consistent with Mush’s proposals, especially the thinning out planned in Jammu, an area with a substantial Hindu presence.

    Kumar

  4. Nitin,

    An update on the reduction in troop levels: Apparently, some reduction is being contemplated along the LOC (in Gurez & Kargil!), according to the Calcutta Telegraph, contrary to the TOI report. Make of it what you will, but I think it doesn’t substantially weaken my earlier argument, given the sectors involved.

    On a related matter, PTI reports on comments by Natwar Singh and JN Dixit on Mush’s proposals. They seem to be mutually consistent! Singh said that Mush’s proposals weren’t really proposals and India would “..certainly look..” at them if they were formally presented. Dixit, in an interview to Tehelka (post-dated 11/20/04) made similar remarks, adding that once such proposals were made by Pakistan, the GOI will make its own proposals. He also stressed that the PM had made clear that no solution involving “..territorial delineation…[or a] timeframe…” was acceptable to India.

    Since I don’t have a Tehelka subscription, I’m not sure if that’s a direct quote of Dixit’s. However, the pharaseology (delineation etc.) doesn’t sound very PTI-like. In any case, Mush’s various proposals certainly involve ‘territorial delineation’, and so Dixit seemed to be ruling out Mush’s proposals.

    BTW, the Reuters report spun Natwar Singh’s comment about ‘looking’ at the proposals as Indian openness to such a ‘solution’. Given the PM’s earlier comments as well as Dixit’s comments, such misreading seems almost willful!

    Kumar

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