‘US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan would not affect Kashmir’

Srinagar, Feb 24: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Monday said he does not believe the withdrawal of the US troops from Afghanistan would seriously impact the ground situation in the state.

Addressing the cadets of the police training school Sheeri in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district at the passing out parade, the chief minister said: “I know some people are worried over the situation in the state this year relating it to the withdrawal of the US troops from Afghanistan.

“I am not one of those who believe this development would seriously impact the ground situation the state,” he said, adding believing this premise “would mean negating all the peace gains made in the state through the participation of the people and the sacrifices made by the army, the paramilitary and the Jammu and Kashmir Police”.

“It would mean admitting that the counter insurgency grid has done little in bringing about the present change here. I, therefore, do not agree that while our security forces are maintaining vigil at the borders and checking violence inside, developments in Afghanistan would affect us that seriously,” he said.

Abdullah acknowledged that there are challenges ahead for security forces during this year, the first being the Lok Sabha elections and then the state assembly elections “during which the security forces will have to ensure that people are provided an atmosphere in which they can come out and chose their representatives without any fear”.

While talking to media persons on the sidelines of the function, he said he does not believe the issue of the alleged staged shooting at Pathribal was over.

“I have vehemently taken up the matter with the prime minister during his visit to Jammu and he assured me that he would take up the matter with the defence minister. I do not agree that my views on the matter have been ignored,” said Abdullah.

Asked what would be the main issues his party would raise during the forthcoming elections in the state, Omar Abdullah said to know that, the media will have to wait till the elections are announced.