A day after Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh advocated continuance of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958 (AFSPA) in Jammu and Kashmir, ruling National Conference (NC) on Tuesday said the controversial law had lost its relevance and should be phased out in a time-bound manner.
“National Conference is of the opinion that AFSPA has lost its relevance. The law has achieved what it was meant for in the first few years after its implementation in 1990. AFSPA should be phased out and that too in a time-bound manner,” NC Additional General Secretary Mustafa Kamal told reporters here.
Mr. Kamal, brother of Union Minister Farooq Abdullah and uncle of Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, said there is no justification for the continuance of AFSPA.
“The Prime Minister has himself supported the view that militancy has gone down in the state. The Chief Minister has said there has been a lot of improvement in the situation and the footprint of the Army needs to be lessened. NC president Farooq Abdullah has said that the Army should be withdrawn from areas where it is no longer needed,” he said.
Mr. Kamal said he was of the view that the anti-militancy deployment in the Valley should be rolled back.
The Army chief had on Monday said there should be no dilution of AFSPA in the state in view of the prevailing situation in the region, including possible terrorist spillover into the Valley after US drawdown in Afghanistan.
“We need to look at developments in Afghanistan in 2014 before we can look at perhaps tampering with or diluting the disturbed areas (act). This is in regard to the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Jammu and Kashmir,” he had said.
Mr. Kamal said Gen Singh’s statement gave an impression that the law was enacted by the Army and not by the government.
“AFSPA is a civil law and was implemented in the state in 1990 to fight militancy. The government called Army to help civil administration to deal with the situation. Gen Singh’s statement gives an impression that the law was enacted by Army and not by the government,” he said.
Advocating Indo-Pak dialogue to resolve all outstanding issues, including Kashmir, the NC leader said India should accept the offer of talks from Pakistan and overlook the isolated incidents happening on the LoC to achieve peace in the region.
On the possibility of a pre-poll alliance with coalition partner Congress in the run-up to Lok Sabha and state elections this year, Kamal said, “Our workers do not want a pre-poll alliance and we have conveyed their feelings to the party leadership which will take a final call.”
He said the state unit of Congress was creating confusion as sometimes it was saying it will form the next government in the state on its own and AT other times it was saying that it will head a coalition.
“Our stand is that National Conference has never entered into a pre-poll alliance except once when the party left two seats in the Parliamentary elections for Congress,” he said, adding that “we have always had good relations with Congress but the party’s intentions towards us are not good.”
On state Congress president Saif-ud-din Soz’s statement that elections should be a friendly match between various political parties in the state, Mr. Kamal said, “Soz’s assertion is childish.”
“Election is an election and there is no friendly match. Our workers, who have given sacrifices, cannot vote for Congress,” he said.