‘AFSPA talks on at appropriate level’
JAMMU, June 14: Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today said India and Pakistan should realize that war was no solution and all issues can be addressed through dialogue only. He insisted that India and Pakistan should not limit their talks to Siachen only but discuss the other issues of the State as well.
In an informal chat with reporters after inspecting passing out parade at Sher-i-Kashmir Police Academy (SKPA), Udhampur this morning, Omar welcomed Defence Secretary level talks between India and Pakistan on demilitarization of Siachen issue and hoped that both the countries would extend their talks to others issues including Jammu and Kashmir.
“War is not a solution to any issue, I don’t think there is any other alternative except dialogue. I hope both the countries would continue to engage in talks on all issues including Jammu and Kashmir’’, he said.
Omar, who earlier attended the passing out parade of 66 Deputy Superintendents from SKPA Udhampur pointed out that Pakistan wants to discuss only Siachen because “it is their compulsion”.
“Why don’t they want to discuss the other issues also, why only Siachen. Why don’t they talk on Sir Creek. There should be a comprehensive dialogue”, Omar said responding to a question about removal of troops from Siachen.
Worthwhile to mention here that Pakistan had lost more than 150 soldiers recently in a major snow avalanche at Siachen Glacier last month. Defence Secretaries of the two countries had held talks exclusively on Siachen issue in Islamabad on June 11 and 12 but failed to make any headway as both sides stuck to their known previous stand.
Calling for a comprehensive dialogue, Omar said: “Siachen too can’t be delinked from Kashmir as it was very much part and parcel of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan can’t raise it separately’’.
Replying to a question as to whether the issue of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) would be taken up once again with the Central Government after the change of guard in the Army with General Bikram Singh taking over as Chief of Army Staff (COAS) from Gen VK Singh, the Chief Minister observed that sensitive issue like partial withdrawal of AFSPA from the State can’t be debated publicly.
“At this moment, I can only say that discussion are on at appropriate level on the issue of partial withdrawal of AFSPA’’, he said.
It may be mentioned here that the Chief Minister had been demanding partial revocation of AFSPA from five peaceful districts of the State including Jammu, Srinagar, Budgam, Samba and Kathua. Former Army chief Gen V K Singh had strongly opposed even partial withdrawal of the AFSPA.
On security and other arrangements for Amarnath Yatra, Omar said the weather this year had been hostile and even today it was snowing and raining at various places along two tracks of the yatra.
“The administration was trying its best to clear the twin tracks and the base camps from snow. Entire machinery has been pressed into service. I hope that authorities would be able to clear the tracks of snow well in time to start the annual yatra on June 25’’, he asserted.
Assuring fool-proof security arrangements for the yatra, he said route sanitisation was on and the pilgrims would be provided full security cover from start of the yatra. He defended decision of Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) to start yatra from June 25.
On unscheduled and prolonged power cuts being enforced in Jammu during scorching heat, the Chief Minister admitted that the State had been facing problems on electricity front due to huge Transmission and Distribution (T&D) losses and less generation or revenue.
“We only get 30 per cent of the revenue from the masses. There is a huge deficit of revenue. So it is quite difficult to maintain a 24 hour supply of electricity”, he said, adding: “during winters the electricity problem remained in Kashmir and during summers people of Jammu suffered”.
The Chief Minister, who also held the portfolio of Power Department, said recently “we have introduced Voluntary Load Disclosure Scheme so that we come to know about specific load of the area. We hope the people would disclosure that load and some solution to power crisis would be found’’.
Omar, however, admitted that it was not possible to provide 24 hour power supply to the consumers in the present circumstances.