Car Nicobar: Stating it was his dream that soldiers should return to the barracks in Jammu and Kashmir, Defence Minister A.K Antony said here Sunday that this depended on India's neighbours ceasing support to terror groups in the country. "It is my dream that the soldiers can go back to the barracks (in Kashmir). It is the dream of the government, but it depends on the situation on the ground," Antony told reporters here. "Terrorists are getting support from across the border. That is a fact (and unless this ceased, there could be no withdrawal of troops)," Antony, who was here to inspect the post-tsunami rehabilitation measures being undertaken in this southern island of the Andaman and Nicobar chain, added. Pressed on the issue, he said: "At the appropriate time, we will review the situation. Whether (this will happen) tomorrow I can't say. There have been several rounds of discussions. Everything depends on the emerging security scenario." Pointing out that the government had sent the army to combat terrorism when it erupted in Kashmir in 1989, Antony said: "The threat is still there. We don't want to deploy the armed forces (in Kashmir), but what do we do? We have to protect ourselves against terrorism." "Their (the security forces') working conditions are extremely difficult. We don't want this situation to continue," he added. Pressed on a timetable for the troops withdrawal, Antony said this depended on the recommendations of the security forces. "The armed forces and other security forces must tell us (when the time is ripe for withdrawing troops)," he maintained. Asked whether he expected a solution to the Kashmir crisis as long as a military government ruled in Pakistan, Antony replied: "Mere statements are not necessary. Action is needed." The issue of troop withdrawal from Jammu and Kashmir has been raised by the People's Democratic Party, the state's major ruling coalition partner, which has threatened to withdraw from the alliance if its demand was not acceded to. It is also demanding withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act from the state. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh invited PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed to Delhi for talks to defuse the crisis. The two held two rounds of talks this week.
--courtsey manoramaonline...dated March 26, 2007 12:27 AM IST----------