The moderate Hurriyat faction on Friday welcomed the proposed reduction in troops in Jammu and Kashmir as a "positive step", saying it will help in improving the ground situation and create a conducive atmosphere for composite dialogue to resolve the Kashmir issue.
"The statement of Union Home Secretary, Gopal K Pillai on reduction of troops is a positive step," Hurriyat chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said, addressing a Friday congregation at Jamia Masjid in downtown Srinagar.
The Hurriyat has already proposed gradual withdrawal of troops starting with cities and thickly populated areas, for improving the ground situation and creating a conducive atmosphere for a composite dialogue to resolve Kashmir, the Mirwaiz said.
He said Hurriyat will welcome any step aimed at reducing the tension between India and Pakistan which will pave way for resolution of outstanding issues, especially Kashmir. "We understand that in the civilised world, dialogue is the only way to address issues through peaceful means," he said.
The Mirwaiz said the upcoming meetings between Indian and Pakistani foreign secretaries and foreign ministers were a "good omen". Other separatists, however, gave a guarded response.
"We will monitor the implementation process before making a stand on the reduction of the troops," JKLF Chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik said. Democratic Freedom Party President Shabir Ahmad Shah said, "We have heard similar announcements in the past but the situation on the ground remained unchanged. If New Delhi is sincere and serious in its latest announcement, we will welcome such a move," Shah said and called for complete withdrawal of troops from the state.
"Only time will decide the sincerity of India," Shah added.
Addressing a seminar at Jamia Milia Islamia University in New Delhi, Pillai on Friday said, "As a confidence building measure in Jammu and Kashmir, the strength of the security forces would come down by 25%. We would like to reduce it as soon as possible depending on the ground situation."
The Mirwaiz said the situation and the historic facts demand that "serious, fruitful and bold steps" are taken with regard to Kashmir issue. "Once the Kashmir issue is resolved in accordance with the wishes and aspirations of the people of Kashmir, other issues will get automatically addressed," the chairman of the moderate Hurriyat said. He said the entire world supports dialogue between the two nuclear powers.