Groping for a response to deal with the Kashmir unrest, the Centre on Tuesday hoped to enlist support of all political parties at a meeting on Wednesday for a strategy that could include phased withdrawal of AFSPA, an issue on which the Armed Forces still voiced reservations.
Apparently wanting to move quickly to defuse the situation, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) is also likely to meet for the second time in three days after the conclusion of the all-party meeting which is expected to deliberate on the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA).
Defence Minister A K Antony said, "Important decisions have to be taken after carefully assessing all aspects... before we take a final decision, we will take into confidence all the major parties so that everybody is involved."
In a clear indication that he was with the Army on the AFSPA issue, IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal P V Naik said a soldier, to perform his duty efficiently, "deserves all the legal protection" that he could get. The CCS on Monday had deferred a decision on the AFSPA issue.
"I am sure the government is sensitised to this problem and whatever decision they will take I am sure it will be the correct one," Naik, who is also the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee.
Naik was asked for his opinion on the AFSPA, which the Centre is reportedly considering withdrawing from some parts of the border state. The Omar Abdullah government is also pressing for the phased withdrawal of AFSPA after the situation in the valley took a turn for the worse yesterday when 17 persons were killed in violence in one single day.
National Conference President and Union Minister Farooq Abdullah, who has returned from South Africa, said he will attend the meeting.
The meeting could have divergence of views mong the political class on how to tackle the situation with the main opposition BJP making it clear it was against dilution of the powers of the Army.
"Requirements of the security forces cannot be compromised for the vote bank politics of the Congress", said BJP spokesperson Prakash Javdekar, indicating the stance his party would adopt the all party meeting.
BJP also said it wanted total peace restored in the troubled region prior to any talks between government and separatists.