Army will be handicapped without AFSPA: Lt General

Lt Gen Parnaik termed AFSPA as an "enabling" Act and said it was not a draconian law.

Teetwal: Amidst raging debate over Jammu and Kashmir government`s intention to revoke AFSPA from parts
of the state, Army on Thursday made its case clear saying any such
move will handicap the capability of the force to conduct
counter insurgency operations.

"We have a situation which has now carried on for more
than 20 years and the Army requires the provisions to enable
it to act... Without the provisions, the Army will be
handicapped," General Officer Commanding in Chief for Northern
Command Lt Gen KT Parnaik told reporters here, 200 kms from

The Army commander, who visited this village - located on
the Line of Control - in north Kashmir`s Kupwara district,
said removing the AFSPA from certain areas of the state will
make it difficult for the Army to operate.

"It is a question of the confidence and trust that you
repose in your Army. If you are removing the Act from certain
areas then it will become difficult for the Army to operate in
the manner we operate now," he said.

Debate over the partial revocation of Armed Forces Special
Powers Act (AFSPA) and Disturbed Areas Act, introduced in 1990
to give the Army and paramilitary forces powers to detain
suspects and use deadly force, began last month when Chief
Minister Omar Abdullah announced that Acts will be revoked
from parts of the state "within few days".

Lt Gen Parnaik, who was accompanied by General Officer
Commanding of Srinagar based 15 Corps Lt Gen S A Hasnain,
termed AFSPA as an "enabling" Act and said it was not a
draconian law.

"The fact is that partial revocation from the areas may be
seen as a genuine thing because there seems to be peace here.
But peace is very fragile," he said. "After all we have seen
one of the most peaceful summers in 2011 and that has happened
with AFSPA only," he said.

He said if AFSPA is revoked from certain areas,
"terrorists and inimical elements" will exploit the situation.
"We don`t want that to happen," he said.

Linking the revocation of AFSPA with the dismantling of
the militant infrastructure across the border, Lt Gen Parnaik
said it is not the "correct time" to remove the law till there
is interference from Pakistan.

"We are not looking only at a few places or counter-
terrorist operations or peace in few areas. It (AFSPA) has to
be seen in context of the entire proxy war which is going on.
The proxy war in J-K is externally abetted by Pakistan," he

"Therefore, we feel that unless we are able to neutralise
that infrastructure and unless we are able to remove
interference from Pakistan, it may not be the correct time for
us to think of revoking it partially," he said.

The commander said Army was not on a confrontational path
with any one and pleaded that there should be more discussions
before taking a final call.

"There is no confrontation with anyone and these issues
need a lot of discussions and deliberations. We have made our
stance clear to the state government. I have had discussions
with the high powered committee which came here for review
recently and we continue to have dialogue with them," Lt Gen
Parnaik said.

He said the Chief Minister had asked the Army to give its
recommendations earlier this year.

"On our part, we have sensitised them on the manner in
which it will affect our operations," he said.

"We have to see whether the AFSPA`s revocation is a
matter of security or political dispensation. It will all
happen after discussions with the people who are concerned,"
he said.