CM or Centre?

Who should take the call to recall AFSPA



It seems that  Chief Minister Omar Abdullah  is convinced that targeting  army for everything that is going wrong in the state would be  an election winning politics in 2014.  It is one of the  lessons that he   seems  to have learnt after he, and his party lost the 2002 elections. If I recall correctly, at that time, when Omar Abdullah was also a minister in the Bhartiya Janta Party-led National Democratic Alliance  at the Centre, he would say that  the Kashmir problem can be addressed   through political and military  measures. 
It is important to understand the dynamics of Kashmir politics. We have to analyse why Omar is  making the removal of  Armed Forces Special Powers Act  ( AFSPA)  as  his political  mantra and repeatedly throws the ball in the court of  army and the Centre.  This becomes more important  as the Chief Minister is having powers  to do away with  AFSPA and Disturbed Area Act   with a stroke of  pen.  But he doesn’t want to   act unilaterally. His plea is  democratic: he wants to take everyone on board. But  censuring army  for  scuttling the recall of AFSPA  works  as a counter to the  stated intentions of Chief Minister. There is  a scope  of  free and fair discussion on the issue. If that option is not acceptable, then the issue can be discussed in the  legislature  and let the majority vote decide, who  should take the final call in removing AFSPA and when.
And Omar should trust himself  as he is  very good  in  articulating and arguing his point of view.  He has the power to  disarm  his worst critics  just with one sentence.  Then, why  is he  waiting for the Centre’s nod to remove AFSPA. On other occasions, he claims that unified headquarter would do so. Again, the UHQ is  operating under his chairmanship. Let him take a decision.
The Army must be having reasons to stay on in Jammu and Kashmir.  The situation has changed by miles  when the army was requisitioned  in 1990s  to lead the counter-insurgency operations in Kashmir Valley and other sensitive places.  They fought and  lost  a huge number of lives, close to 5,500, while securing valley  for  its  citizens, which enabled the Centre to hold elections from  1996 onwards including the 2008 which saw National Conference and Congress coming to power in  the beginning of 2009.  But the  crystal ball of the re-emergence  of militancy in 2014 when the American forces would  leave Afghanistan  and  Pakistan would turn the militants  to Kashmir is  not being acknowledged at this time by any of the political leaders.
Military strategies are decided by taking into account the larger picture. There is no politics involved in that. The Indian army had trusted Pakistan army in Kargil and  everyone knows that what happened in Kargil  in 1999. Today, one full corps of the Indian army is  positioned along the dizzying heights  to secure  Jammu and Kashmir  for the people of this state. It was the army that had rescued  thousands in  the aftermath of the October 2005n earthquake, when the civil administration was nowhere in sight.
Turn a few pages of history and ask Farooq Abdullah, wasn’t he told way back in 1988 that once the Russian forces would leave  Afghanistan, Kashmir is going to be  next target of Pakistan. He knew it, but  didn’t believe  this. And the consequences  followed.  The year 1988 had recorded the highest number of tourists until 2012 came and saw all previous records crumbling. The tourist arrival  was  stunning.  But had  the government acted in 1988  and kept the elements who created trouble in  check, the number of tourists this time would have been more than the entire population of Jammu and Kashmir, that is more than 12 million.
That’s the point which  both the political leadership and the army should understand. The army should  perform its role on the  borders as effectively as it is expected to, stop infiltration, then there would be no need  for the DAA or AFSPA in the hinterland. The money  and resources that it is  spending on the operation “sadhbhvana “  or goodwill, those can be easily  diverted to the defence on borders and let the internal security be dealt with by the CRPF and Jammu and Kashmir police.
 Both for the army and the state government, it’s high time to have a relook at the situation, without bringing their large egos  with them in the discussions.

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Lastupdate on : Mon, 24 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 24 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 25 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST

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