Peace and AFSPA

AFSPA, says the home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, will not be lifted in Kashmir until the state is ''quiet and calm''. Unlike his predecessor P Chidambaram who was partial to the idea of partial revocation of the law, Shinde doesn't think J&K is sufficiently peaceful for AFSPA withdrawal. This too when the state is fresh from the elections to four legislative council seats, in which an overwhelming 93 per cent of Panches and Sarpanches cast their ballot. In fact, legislative council polls capped a fairly normal year in Kashmir. The state witnessed the incident-free Amarnath Yatra and a bumper tourist season with around one and a half million tourists visiting
the state. More importantly, the year saw a steep drop in the levels of violence. This scenario was further buoyed by the forward movement on trade and travel in the talks between India and Pakistan. The pact on a liberalized trading regime signed in Islamabad between former foreign minister S M Krishna and his Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar is emblematic of this progress. It is after a long time that the two countries are experiencing détente in their relations. There has been a positive impact of these changes on the situation in Kashmir. Shinde personally witnessed this when he visited the state this year. The Home Minister, accompanied by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, went to the Polo View market for shopping. His cavalcade also passed through Iqbal Park, Lal Ded Hospital and Zero Bridge before heading back to Raj Bhavan. But now the home minister says that Kashmir is not peaceful enough to merit revocation of AFSPA. The statement contradicts the predominant Kashmiri political opinion and Shinde's own experience. And more importantly, it negates the expectations of Kashmiris who expected the new home minister to take concrete steps to withdraw AFSPA in view of the prevailing normalcy in the state. There is, therefore, an urgent need to rethink the priorities in Kashmir. If centre wants to build on the prevailing peace in the state, it has to take steps to offer commensurate relief to the people for the remarkable improvement in the situation.

Lastupdate on : Wed, 12 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 12 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 13 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST

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