AFSPA can’t be permanent feature of governance: Mehbooba

mehboobaSrinagar: Reiterating its belief that laws like Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) can not be a permanent feature of governance in Jammu and Kashmir, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Wednesday strongly objected to the statement of the army chief on the subject.
In a statement, the party president, Mehbooba Mufti said AFSPA has outlived its utility and J&K is ready for full restoration of fundamental rights, which are severely, restricted by such laws.
Mehbooba said the people of J&K have repeatedly reaffirmed their faith in the democratic process, over the past many years, and it is time that Govt. of India responds positively to the growing democratic culture in the state.
She said while holding elections and participation of people in them are essential for a democratic polity, but democracy in the state will lack vibrancy as long as the civil institutions, judiciary and elected bodies don’t feel fully empowered, as in rest of the country.
Mehbooba said AFSPA was enacted at a time, when thousands of young people, disillusioned with democratic process that was brazenly subverted in 1987 elections, were forced to pick up guns. But now, according to government’s own statistics there are only a few militants operating in the state. “To win over even the last alienated young person, it is necessary that democracy and its institutions are fully functional and able to address and accommodate other views. We have to respond to an idea with a more creative idea, so that nobody is any longer compelled to pick up a gun or fall to philosophy of hatred and violence,” she said.
Referring to the recommendations made from time to time on the subject, Mehbooba said the special working group, appointed by prime minister had recommended rolling back of AFSPA. The PDP had taken up the matter with the prime minister in January 2007, in response to which a high level committee had also been appointed to review the law.
She said the PDP has time and again emphasized that gun and force from either side will not resolve the problem. “Instead it is democracy, engagement and dialogue that are needed for a permanent settlement of the problem for which a beginning had made with the initiative in 2003. Shrill statements will take us nowhere, in restoring the confidence in peace process and wining the hearts and minds of people,” said Mehbooba.