J&K quiet diplomacy to consider all issues brought to table: PC

Last Updated: Sunday, October 25, 2009 - 13:28

New Delhi: Union Home Minister P Chidambaram
on Wednesday said that the "quiet diplomacy" promised with "every
shade of political opinion" in Jammu and Kashmir will consider
"everything that is brought to the table".

He indicated that separatist Hurriyat Conference will be
part of the dialogue that will also cover issues like autonomy
in the state.
He also said that the issue of amendments to the Armed
Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), which the state would
like to be withdrawn, was before the Cabinet.

However, Chidambaram refused to discuss the roadmap for
the dialogue he had promised to the people of Jammu and
Kashmir during his recent visit to Srinagar or the issues that
may come up in that.

"We are not discussing this. If we discuss this, it
is not quiet diplomacy. As I said there are many sides
of political opinion in Jammu and Kashmir. We will consult
every shade of political opinion. But it will be done quietly,
far away from the glare of the media," he said in an interview.

Asked what kind of shades of opinion the government was
referring to, he said, "I said every shade of political
opinion will be consulted.

Does it include Hurriyat?, he was asked. "I am not
elaborating every shade of the political opinion."

When suggested that it is the crux of the issue, the
minister said, "That is the answer. There are many shades of
political opinion. Everyone will be consulted."

Asked when the exercise would begin, Chidambaram said he
could not discuss the starting date or the ending date.
"All I can say is that we intend to pursue the policy of quiet
diplomacy away from the glare of the media. I have no
fascination for photo opportunity."

About the issues that may be discussed in the dialogue,
he said, "Let us see, we will talk to everyone and then the
issues will be thrown up in those talks".

In reply to a question whether the issues include
restoration of autonomy, over which the Jammu and Kashmir
Assembly had unanimously passed a resolution in 2000 during
the tenure of Farooq Abdullah as Chief Minister, the minister
said, "As I said, anything that is brought to the table, it
will be considered and the table will be away from the media."

The Assembly resolution had demanded restoration of
autonomy to the state.

Asked about withdrawal of Army and paramilitary forces
from the Valley, he said the situation in the state was
improving everyday and the Centre has withdrawn some
battalions of paramilitary forces.

"But these are operational decisions taken by the Unified
Command there. There are times when the number of security
personnel will be enhanced, there are times when it will be
reduced.
"For example, before the Amarnath Yatra, we increased it.
Now after the Yatra, it has been reduced. These are
operational decisions, not political decisions."

On the AFSPA, Chidambaram said the Centre has promised to
revisit the law in pursuance of the statement made by Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh.

"Justice Jeeven Reddy Committee was appointed. They have
given a report. Based on that report and other inputs, we have
drafted amendments to the AFSPA, which are before the
Cabinet."

The Reddy Committee had recommended repealing of the
AFSPA, saying recommending the continuation of the present law
with or without amendments does not arise.

Asked whether the state police was capable of handling
the situation, Chidambaram said they were becoming more
capable as can be seen from the successes they have scored in
the last six or seven weeks on the border and near the border.

Only a couple of days ago, they were able to neutralise a
terrorist in Sopore, he added.

Bureau Report



First Published: Sunday, October 25, 2009 - 13:28

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