People's Democratic Party leader Mehbooba Mufti said at the all-party meeting here on Wednesday that her party was against making “cosmetic changes” in the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) as it would not bring any relief to the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Later, she told journalists that her party made it clear at the meeting that “as a first step, the government can immediately order release of young boys and political prisoners who are being held under the Public Safety Act.”
Stressing the need for initiating unconditional talks with all sections of the people, including separatists and both moderate and hardline factions of the Hurriyat Conference, she said “dialogue is the only way out of the current situation.” The ultimate aim was to arrive at an honourable and dignified solution to the Kashmir problem.
Asked whether Omar Abdullah should continue as Chief Minister in the present circumstances, Ms. Mufti said it was for the coalition partners — the Congress and the National Conference (NC) — to sort it out.
The 2002-2008 period, when the PDP ruled the State, was marked by “good governance” and the people had high expectations from the government, but it failed to build and consolidate upon gains which it inherited. “In fact, the situation is back to square one; there is no sense of security among people. The State government has failed to deliver,” she alleged.
At the all-party meeting, the NC, which was represented by its chief and Union Minister Farooq Abdullah and leaders from the State, sought the withdrawal of the AFSPA, at least partially from areas where the Army was not present.