Making a strong pitch for phased removal of the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Wednesday asked the Centre to set in motion a mechanism which could guide in repealing of the act from the state.

Highlighting the situation in the State improved continuously, he said the year 2012 was by far the best in the past 25 years in terms of all parameters and all indices of violence have shown a constant and continuous decline.

“The percentage of terrorist related incidents have decreased by 35 per cent during the year 2012 as compared to the year 2011. During the year there has been a significant decline in all types of causalities, 54 per cent of security forces and 40 per cent of the civilians,” Mr. Omar said in his speech at the Chief Minister’s Conference on Internal Security being chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

“Most people will share my optimism that the overall security situation in the state of Jammu and Kashmir has improved significantly, and as of now, there are many districts of the state which have not witnessed militancy related incidents for quite some time,” he said, adding this “gives us the confidence” that some of special laws like AFSPA need to be revisited.

“I have been consistently advocating for phased withdrawal of AFPSA from the state, in the beginning from the areas which have been free from militancy for quite some time,” he said and cited the recommendation of working groups set by the Prime Minister as well as report of interlocutors who also recommended revocation of AFPSA.

“Keeping in view the improved security scenario, I would strongly urge the government of India to set in motion a mechanism which can guide us for the removal of AFPSA,” he said.

Advocating for early resumption of talks with separatists as well as Pakistan, Mr. Omar said, “I am of the firm belief that all outstanding issues, however contentious they may be, can be resolved through a process of sustained and sincere dialogue.

“I strongly hold the position that a constructive and a meaningful dialogue with people holding different shades of opinion in the state can narrow down the differences and facilitate towards a common agreed solution,” he said.

Similarly, there is also a need to resume the dialogue with the neighbouring country and further add to the list of confidence building measures, he said.

“The improved relations between India and Pakistan have a definite positive impact in the security situation in the state of Jammu and Kashmir,” Mr. Omar said.

The Chief Minister said that the youth of the state had been making great strides in education and other fields as the number of candidates qualifying the central civil services examination was increasing year after year.

“... However, our students pursuing studies outside the state in different parts of the country and those in other professions need a conducive and safe environment to enable them to realise their dreams and contribute in nation building,” he said and appealed to other Chief Ministers as well as the Centre to promote and provide safe environment to the people of the state who are pursuing their studies and vocations.

“This will be a positive step in boosting their confidence and encourage them to move to different parts of the country for seeking educational and employment opportunities,” he said.