There is no doubt that the much-publicised concerns of the former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, on demilitarisation are only a means to catapult himself into the limelight. But that should not be allowed to obfuscate the fact that the presence of armed forces remains the greatest stumbling block to restoring peace in the State.
Armed attacks and killing of civilians in the crossfire cannot be stopped unless the armed forces leave the Valley. The people should look at the issue rationally rather than going by the rhetoric of national security and national interest.
It is unfortunate that the UPA Government is bowing to the PDP's pressure to withdraw troops from Kashmir. When Mr. Sayeed was Chief Minister, he followed the healing touch policy towards militants. He did little to bring back the Pandits to the State.
Until all the natives of Kashmir settle down in the State without fear, nobody can claim that the security situation has improved. Withdrawing troops from Kashmir will mean losing the State to Pakistan.