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Impact of PM’s proposed Kashmir visit
From ‘friendly firing’, NC-Cong set for ‘ceasefire’
SRINAGAR, June 2: With prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh scheduled to arrive in Kashmir on a two day visit on June 25, both the coalition partners, National Conference (NC) and Congress, are set to observe a “ceasefire” on political front.

Sources said the truce is expected to start before the visit and continue till the prime minister returns to New Delhi. The impact of the visit on the relations of the coalition partners will determine the durability of the “ceasefire.” Once the “truce” comes into effect, big guns on both sides including Dr Mustafa Kamal and Abdul Gani Vakil, which were roaring for quite some time, will fall silent.

Being in news for long for “daring to speak” against NC’s views and actions, PCC chief Prof Saif-u-Din Soz has already taken a cue. “I will not talk to media persons. They ask irrelevant questions and do not focus on my speech,” he told reporters in Anantnag yesterday. Today during a public meeting at Palpora-Langate, he alleged that media misquoted him by reporting that “I claimed that Congress will form the next government on its own in the state.” “I never said this. What I said is that Congress will emerge as the single largest party,” Soz said.

With an eye on next year’s assembly elections, the “friendly political firing” between NC and Congress had intensified since recent past. Some of the leaders did not hesitate hitting even the “sensitive targets” of each other thus the “friendly fire” sometimes went out of control.

Sources said that the message from top is loud and clear- Stop issuing such statement which can lead to embarrassment during Dr Singh’s visit. The two parties have been asked to make efforts for making the visit “successful.” Dr Singh is arriving here for the first time after the hanging of Mohammad Afzal Guru. This can be perhaps his last visit to the state as prime minister in his present term

Going by all the available indications till now, the visit is not going to be a path breaking one on internal political and security fronts this time also. It will remain confined to the inauguration of train service from Qazigund to Banihal, dedicating Mughal Road to people and meeting various delegations including those from the mainstream camp.

Separatist leadership has already made it clear that they will not talk to the prime minister if extended invitation for a dialogue with him. Not only Syed Ali Shah Geelani, but Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik, who held talks with Dr Singh in the past, have shown no interest for a dialogue this time. Malik has already called for a general strike on Dr Singh’s visit.

Prime minister is visiting Kashmir at a time when militants have already intensified their attacks, carried out some major strikes in different parts of Valley and inflicted casualties on police and security forces. Police and security men are also engaged in counter offensive and have killed a number of militants.

Army has been making statements regarding foiling of infiltration bids and subsequent casualties. In this scenario, the security establishment will try to have an edge over those from the mainstream camp, advocating revocation of AFSPA from some areas, during Dr Singh’s visit.

On the political front, PCC chief Saif-u-Din Soz too has started favouring AFSPA removal from some areas and even suggested to chief minister Omar Abdullah to convene the unified headquarter meeting to take army and other security agencies on board on the issue. Welcoming Soz’s “change of mind,” Omar asked him to use his good offices at the centre for repealing of the act.

Chief minister has come under severe criticism from different quarters for advocating AFSPA removal but not moving an inch for repealing Disturbed Areas Act (DAA) and Public Safety Act (PSA), which is ruthlessly being misused.

A few media reports had recently suggested that prime minister may announce the partial revocation of AFSPA during his visit. The media optimism was based on PCC chief’s latest statement on the issue. However, some sources rule out such a possibility on the grounds that with pre-election activities gaining momentum, the militants might try to intensify the attacks. Secondly, the UPA government at centre may not like to take such a decision in view of next year’s Parliament elections since army has publicly opposed revocation of AFSPA.

Some political observers here believe that whether or not the prime minister would address the internal dimension of Kashmir issue, but he may extend a fresh hand of friendship to Pakistan from the soil of Valley. After the election results in Pakistan, New Delhi did send some friendly gestures but the process can be set into motion formally from Kashmir by the prime minister. However, the impact of such a process cannot be that strong because of the coming Lok Sabha polls. Congress would not like to be seen as Pakistan friendly by the voters in the country during elections, feel the observers.

News Updated at : Sunday, June 2, 2013
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