AFSPA removal after army’s consent: BJP on PDP’s ‘alliance agenda’

The Bharatiya Janata Party Sunday said the revocation of controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from Jammu and Kashmir “can take place only after the consent of security agencies and decline in the militancy graph.”
AFSPA removal after army’s consent: BJP on PDP’s ‘alliance agenda’
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The Bharatiya Janata Party Sunday said the revocation of controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from Jammu and Kashmir "can take place only after the consent of security agencies and decline in the militancy graph."

The BJP's remarks come a day after the Peoples Democratic Party made its alliance agenda public, stating therein that the party wants "complete withdrawal of AFSPA" from J&K "within one year" and "immediate withdrawal from certain areas of the state."

In a chat with Greater Kashmir, BJP's MLA-elect Dr Nirmal Singh said the government has to be formed "after unanimous consensus" between the leaders of two parties.

"As far as the PDP's demand for dialogue with Pakistan is concerned, it is already on the Centre's agenda. But the point is our neighbor must show sincerity. Pakistan's former president, Pervez Musharaf is on record during the 2001 Agra summit that no part of the territory under his control would be used for terrorist activities against India," Singh said.

"Our leader and the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had made it clear that friends can be changed but not neighbors. The dialogue with Pakistan depends on the sincerity the country shows."

Singh, who is also BJP's national executive member, said the Prime Minister NarendraModi took a lead in ensuring friendly ties with Pakistan by inviting Pakistan Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif to his oath ceremony in New Delhi in May last year.

On revocation of AFSPA as demanded by the PDP, Singh said it depends on the "consent of security forces."

"It also depends on the situation like decline in the militancy level," he said. 

About talks with Hurriyat leadership—another proposal put forth by the PDP in its alliance agenda—the BJP leader said the party is open for any dialogue with separatists "but within the ambit of Indian constitution."

Dr Singh clarified that the party "would like to study and go by the recommendations of a working group constituted by the former Prime Minister Manmonah Singh on the return of power projects to the State."

The PDP has in its alliance agenda demanded return of power projects to JK.

The working group was headed by C Rangarajan.

Interestingly, the PDP has pitched for the return of Uri and Salal power projects as well.

On settlement of West Pakistan Refugees (WPRs), Singh said the issue "has to be seen through a humanitarian angle."

The PDP wants status-quo on the issue.

A top BJP leader in New Delhi said the party "wants to see a stable government in JK to ensure the crucial mandate of people of the State doesn't go waste."

"At the same time, we won't do some that would affect the sovereignty of our country. It can't be a government at the cost of India's interests," he said.

"Let us see what comes out of the talks with the PDP leaders in days ahead."

On the compensation to the JK due to IWT losses, the BJP leader said, they would like to see the quantum of losses, study the issue thoroughly and accordingly make a comment.

"This is something that needs to be studied," he said, refusing to elaborate further.

The BJP, according to party insiders, has already agreed to shelve the issue of Article 370 and "there is a yearning within the party that no more major concessions should be given for the sake of forming government in JK."

BJP's core-group member and the State Secretary (Organisation) Ashok Koul said the PDP's alliance agenda has been forwarded to the party's central leadership.

"My personal opinion is that all these issues can be discussed when the structured dialogue would take place with the PDP.

So far there is no headway," Koul said.

He said including Jammu and Srinagar among the 100 smart cities and declaring Dal Lake as the world heritage site can be incorporated in the party's development agenda.

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