AFPSA: lack of consensus delays action

Srinagar (Jammu & Kashmir): Admitting that there was a lack of consensus among various stakeholders over the revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), chief minister Omar Abdullah has said, that though discussions were on, the point of reaching an amicable solution was yet to be arrived at.

“I have no hesitation in saying that we wanted to reach a position where we could revoke AFSPA from some areas of the state. Unfortunately, we haven’t reached that point yet,” said Omar, in his Independence Day address here August 15.

He said the issue of revocation of AFSPA hasn’t been closed, as a dialogue was going on with the Ministry of Defence and the Army. He asserted that the Act would be revoked from the state during his tenure.

The chief minister said that militancy-related violence has been considerably down over the last three years. “Improvement in the security scenario has helped the government in reducing footprints of security forces from civilian areas.”

Meanwhile, Pradesh Congress chief Prof Saif-ud-Din Soz on August 9 said at Jammu he stalled revocation of AFSPA from the state and the Centre has put the issue on the backburner. “People should have been consulted. So I believed that the demand was premature.”

National Conference Additional General Secretary, Dr Mustafa Kamaal told local news agency KNS August 10 “Putting such a viewpoint in public indicates that Congress wants to use the army for its own political purposes. Soz’s statement indicates that he wants unrest to continue in the state.”

Soz said on August 10 that his comment was distorted by the media. “Today, my stand is AFSPA had been adopted as a temporary measure. In the changed security scenario, AFSPA revocation is possible.”

Asking separatists to get ready for talks, chief minister here August 15 said neither gun nor economic measures can resolve the Kashmir issue. “Kashmir is a political issue and needs to be addressed politically through the dialogue process.”

Rejecting the invitation, Hurriyat (G) chairman, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, August 16 said, “Omar is unnecessarily getting involved in the issue. He is just a puppet and has no mandate to invite us for talks.”

Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said, “New Delhi should either be sincere or not use these time-consuming tactics. Everyone is fully aware how Omar couldn’t revoke AFSFA. On what merits he can now talk of Kashmir issue.”

JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik said, “Recently, Defence Minister A K Antony told Parliament that Kashmir isn’t an issue. Omar should know his jurisdiction, otherwise it projects him as a political joker.”