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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