Time not right for AFPSA withdrawal: Azad

Time not right for AFPSA withdrawal: Azad

Suhail Punjabi
Jammu: India’s Health Minister and senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad Monday voiced  his opposition to withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act(AFSPA)  from Jammu and Kashmir, few days after Omar Abdullah vowed to see the end of the controversial law during his tenure as the Chief Minister of the state.
“Chief Minister (Omar Abdullah) has to say what he likes and feels. I am not going to come in way of what is speaks but in so far as my opinion is concerned, time has not come to withdraw this particular statute which Government of India had (enforced) at a particular point in time,” Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters on the sidelines of a function here.
“We must be conscious about what is happening in our country and in the neighbourhood,” said Azad, who headed the state for almost three before Peoples Democratic Party withdrew support to his government following the  Amarnath land row.
Azad’s statement is not only at odds with Omar’s stand but also to the views of the incumbent state Congress chief Prof Saifuddin Soz who recently said that it was time to lift AFSPA from some areas “without politicizing the issue.”
Omar has repeatedly sounded opposition to the continuation of the Act which gives army and other forces special powers.
In fact,  last Monday, Abdullah had said he would take up the issue regarding the withdrawal of the Act again with the government of India later this year.
“Talks (for revocation of AFSPA) are on and I am of the opinion that because of the improved situation, there are areas in the state from where the AFSPA should go,” Omar had said.
Azad also said that the release of Jaish-e-Mohammed’s founder Masood Azhar during BJP tenure was not a  “great thing.”
“It has also proved that Pakistan is training, aiding and abetting militancy against India,” he said while responding to a query by the reporters.