The government will try to get as many political parties as possible to agree on measures to be taken to restore normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir at Wednesday's all party meeting.
High on the agenda is dilution or partial withdrawal of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), to which the BJP remains opposed. A discussion on ways in which to restart the political process in the strife torn state will also figure prominently.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi — who presided over last week’s core group meeting on Kashmir — will attend Wednesday’s meeting too. Mehbooba Mufti, chief of the opposition party in Kashmir, the People’s Democratic Party — who had skipped an earlier all party meet convened by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh — has indicated she will also be present, sources said.
She will be accompanied by senior party colleagues like Muzaffar Hussain Beigh. Since all flights in and out of Srinagar have been cancelled, the government has made special arrangements to fly in the PDP leaders from Srinagar.
The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) is expected to hold another meeting later. But a decision on when it will be held will be taken after the all party meet. “If everyone accepts the suggestion to send an all-party delegation to the state, the CCS could be deferred. Else it may meet tomorrow evening,” a government official said.
At Monday’s CCS meeting, sources said a broad consensus on some of the steps to be taken had been reached, though none of them have been announced.
“We had a long meeting but ultimately thought all major parties should be taken into confidence before a final decision,” Defence Minister A.K. Antony said.
Ahead of the meeting, BJP leader L.K. Advani lambasted the government for the administration’s complete collapse and opposed any change in the AFSPA. The Left called for a meaningful dialogue and withdrawal of armed forces.
Sources insisted dilution of the AFSPA or its proposed withdrawal from select districts was not the government’s single point programme to resolve the Kashmir problem.
“But the hope is that this initiative could be the trigger for dialogue,” a source said, pointing to the ‘bold’ PMO statement on Monday that recognised governance and trust deficit between the government and people of Jammu & Kashmir.