Prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh, home minister P. Chidambaram and Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah are together playing a very dangerous game. After the unfortunate deaths of over 84 people in J&K in the recent spate of violence, the trio instead of going after the perpetrators of the violence are trying to deflect the issue to the armed forces special powers act; its dilution or lifting it from some parts of the state.
The three leaders – Dr Singh, Mr Chidambaram and Omar Abdullah were all seen as visionary leaders who would not only `think out of the box’ but also take the situation from better to best. On the contrary, one thing is clear from the events of the past couple of months – the situation has gone from bad to worse because neither men are either thinking out of the box or even interested in tackling the situation in the right earnest.
The situation in J&K today is not what it is because of the armed forces special powers act. It is because both Omar Abdullah and P. Chidambaram failed to stem the rot; each hoping the other would bell the cat. The prime minister is clearly more interested in winning browny points from the world community than actually sorting out the situation for the benefit of the nation.
The world criticises George W. Bush II for attacking Iraq when the real trouble was in Afghanistan. The Indian trio are doing just the same. The trouble is in Pakistan paying the separatists and disgruntled elements to foment trouble in J&K. Instead of tackling that – like Bush attacked Iraq, PM, HM and CM J&K are attacking the AFSPA. If you cannot catch the culprit hang the guy whose neck fits the noose.
General Ved Prakash Malik, former chief of army staff was on Centre Stage debate and he insisted the army would be handicapped in battling Pakistan sponsored terrorism in the state of J&K minus the AFSPA.
So is it in national interest to tamper with the AFSPA at this stage? Lawyer and activist Shabnam Lone was also on Centre stage on Monday evening and she raised the same point. The present crisis in J&K has nothing to do with the AFSPA. None of the 80 plus live lost in the state, especially in and around the valley have anything to do with the army. So why bring in the AFSPA at this stage.
Dr Manmohan Singh, P. Chidambaram and Omar Abdullah owe the nation an explanation. Are they playing politics with such a sensitive issue? Are they playing to the gallery?
The union government is of the considered opinion that the chief minister needs to do more to connect with the people. He also needs to be more assertive with his administration. Two things come to fore at this stage – one if the Hurriyat’s Gilani faction is indeed fomenting trouble in the state then those trouble makers need to be dealt with in the strictest possible manner, what ever the repercussions. And Omar Abdullah not only needs to spend more time in the state but also spend that time meeting with more people and not be flanked by just a coterie. As the youngest chief minister with popular mandate, he should reach out to the people directly than rely on either some ministers or officials who have their own axe to grind in the state.
As far as the people of the state are concerned – they need to wake up and appreciate the ground realities. Asiya Andarabi of Dukhtaran-e-millat is more interested in sending her son abroad for education but wants the kids of the valley to give up their future for the `cause.’
The Hurriyat leaders are being paid to create trouble in the state – more than one intercepted conversation has proved that point. Their only interest is in fomenting more trouble – just to keep their `shops’ running. So Clearly it is for the parents to decide – would they want peace in their lives and the state or keep chasing the mirage called `azadi’ and play right into Pakistan’s hands.
The governments both at the centre and the state too need to ponder – by advocating dilution or partial lifting of the AFSPA are they playing right into ISI’s hands or actually thinking of national interest.
Political interests are important but nothing is more important that national interest. And that is not just the job of the armed forces. It is the job of the nation and those who head it.