J&K Government Formation: Last-minute Hiccup Over AFSPA, Article 370
SRINAGAR: The People’s Democratic Party’s demand on partial revocation Armed Forces’ Special Powers’ Act is creating some last moment hiccups in the talks with the BJP regarding government formation in J&K, sources told.
Although both sides have agreed in-principle on partial revocation of AFSPA — which gives the army the authority to make arrests without warrants — from some peaceful areas, the nitty-gritty continues to remain subject of debate.In view of the security implications in the state, the BJP is reluctant to withdraw or revoke the Act — even partially — in haste.
The two parties also have different views on the modalities, timeline and how the matter is to be worded – “withdrawal” or “revocation”.
The Raj Bhavan has been given indications that a government might be formed by February 22, sources told NDTV. But PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has told his partymen that he would not enter into an alliance before all the issues on alliance agenda are accepted.
Besides AFSPA, the key issues in which the gap needed to be bridged include Article 370, which gives Kashmir special status under the constitution, and initiation of talks with Pakistan and separatists. The challenge before the two sides is to find a mutually acceptable language on the issue of article 370.
Hectic back channel negotiations are now on between the two parties to start a formal structured dialogue. Senior PDP leaders including party president Mehbooba Mufti are in Delhi.
The PDP has firmly opposed to any attempt to weaken Article 370 — which is seen as vital for the state’s autonomy by its residents.
It makes the consent of the state government necessary for laws except those related to defence or national security.
In the past, BJP leaders have suggested that the need for Article 370 should be debated because it promotes separatism.The PDP and the BJP had been placed first and second in the assembly polls – with one sweeping the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley and the other, the Hindu-majority Jammu. The back-channel negotiations regarding government formation had been fast-tracked after the Delhi assembly elections, which got over last week.