Revocation Of AFSPA From J&K Will Take Some Time: Govt20 November 2011
New Delhi: The government Sunday made it clear that revocation of the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) from Jammu and Kashmir could be some time away, saying consensus will have to be evolved among all stakeholders on the crucial issue as positions were not 'unified' at the moment at the Centre. 'Ultimately, we need to find consensus among all the stakeholders,' a government source said. The sources noted that the decision had to be taken through consensus by various stakeholders like the chief minister, the Unified Command which is headed by the chief minister and includes top commanders of the army and paramilitary forces along with the Centre. 'The Centre itself has to form a position but till today, you cannot say the Centre has unified its position,' the source said about the issue of lifting AFSPA from some areas of Jammu and Kashmir which is being pushed by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. Abdullah had proposed to revoke the controversial law from four districts - two each in Kashmir valley and Jammu. While the Union Home Ministry is in favour, the Defence Ministry as well as the Army is strongly opposed to it, arguing that the situation was not yet conducive for such a critical decision. The sources insisted that is the 'long-term goal' of army and the government to withdraw army 'because that will mean normalcy has returned' to the state. 'Nobody wants army to be there, doing internal security duties. In fact that is why army was withdrawn from towns and moved to counter-insurgency grid and LoC (Line of Control). They are not doing policing duty. It is everybody's goal. I don't think there is any contradiction here,' the source argued. Describing AFSPA as a 'means to an end', the source said, 'As long as there is a considered judgement that is a security situation that requires AFSPA, it will be applied. If there isn't, it will be lifted. I am sure everybody, including the army will be happy if the situation that led to this, goes away.' The sources noted that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir today was 'much better' than 10 years ago if considered in 'longer term' rather than a month or two. 'We will not lift until the situation is right.. but to say if we lift, situation will go wrong, is to turn the argument on its head. There is a determination, there is a judgement to be made there,' they said.