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Army wants AFSPA to stay, Omar insists Act must go


The army on Wednesday opposed Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah’s move to revoke the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from some parts of the state, but got tough talk from him in response.

According to sources present at a Unified Headquarters meeting, Abdullah Cong
remarked, “No (non-withdrawal of the AFSPA from certain areas) is not an option.”

With the CRPF, BSF and the intelligence agencies siding with Abdullah, the meeting remained inconclusive.

The sources said the army contended at the meeting security forces needed protection of the law in the militancy-troubled state to function effectively.

The AFSPA empowers security forces to shoot at sight or arrest people without a warrant in areas declared disturbed. The law shields security forces from prosecution (unless the union government gives sanction).

Top government sources said Chinar Corps Commander Lt Gen Syed Ata Hasnain made a presentation on the AFSPA at the meeting attended by Northern Army Commander Lt General KT Parnaik and other senior officers.

General Hasnain said Pakistan’s strategy towards Kashmir had to be kept in mind before revoking the law.

He made it clear that withdrawal of the AFSPA just on the basis of six months of peace in the Valley was not the best idea because it could be part of a larger plan of Pakistan to later show that the movement in the state was indigenous and not aided and abetted from outside.

A few hours before the meeting, Abdullah had iterated his commitment to revoking the AFSPA, an announcement he had made on October 21. “We can’t wait for last gun to fall silent,” he told mediapersons.

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