Army Chief Advocates Political Initiative On Kashmir30 June 2010
New Delhi: Army Chief General VK Singh has said that bold and far-sighted political steps are urgently needed to control the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. In an interview with a Delhi-based newspaper, Gen Singh said that there is a great requirement for political initiatives which take all the people of Jammu and Kashmir forward, together. “I feel there is a great requirement for political initiatives that take all people together,” he said. “Militarily, we have brought the overall internal security situation in Jammu and Kashmir under control. Now, the need is to handle things politically,” Gen Singh said. “If the Jammu and Kashmir situation has come under control, it’s the forces which have sacrificed with their blood,” he added. He said that the Jammu and Kashmir police, too, needs to become more active. However, ruling out any immediate troop-cut, Gen Singh said: “it’s ‘slightly premature’ to go in for more de-induction of soldiers from J&K even though militancy has been brought down to its lowest ebb since 1989-1990. We don’t know how the situation will be after six months. We have to wait and watch and do a holistic assessment after that,” he said. He further said the Pakistan army also remains steadfast in its Kashmir agenda, resorting to its policy of giving ‘covering or distracting fire’ to help militants sneak across the LoC. Gen Singh also reiterated his opposition to demands to either ‘withdraw’ or ‘dilute’ the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from J&K, holding that ‘adequate measures’ have been instituted at all levels to ensure it’s not misused. “Police forces get protection under the CrPC. In similar vein, armed forces operating against well-trained and armed militants need legal protection. Any dilution-withdrawal of AFSPA may have an adverse impact on the security situation. We have seen this happening in Manipur, around Imphal,” he added. General Singh’s comments come at a time when the peace and reconciliation process in Kashmir valley has taken a major hit with the killing of eight youth in security related firing. Around 300,000 soldiers have been deployed along the borders as well as in Kashmir for counter-insurgency operations.