India to Reduce Kashmir Troops
India’s prime minister has ordered a reduction in troops in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir this winter, citing a decline in separatist violence in the disputed Himalayan territory.
Pakistan said the move would help ease tensions in the territory, divided between the South Asian neighbors but claimed by both in its entirety.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that in “recognition of the improvement in the situation,” the forces would be withdrawn starting this winter and ending in March, though he did not disclose how many troops would be cut.
“We cannot, however, afford to relax our vigil,” Singh said in a statement Thursday. “If the levels of infiltration and terrorist violence increase, more troops as necessary will be redeployed.”
India has deployed about 1 million troops in the Himalayan region since 1989, when Islamic guerrilla groups began fighting for independence of the Indian-held portion of Kashmir or for its merger with Pakistan.
Indian officials routinely accuse Islamabad of abetting Pakistan-based militants who they say cross into India’s Jammu and Kashmir state. Islamabad denies this, and has pledged to crack down on cross-border infiltration.