The Broad Mind | The Next Step for Peace in Kashmir

Easing AFSPA would undermine separatists and encourage democratic progress

In the Wall Street Journal, Sushant K. Singh, Fellow for National Security at Takshashila Institution, opines:

Every national government needs legal cover to fight insurgencies, but the devil in AFSPA lies in its particular draconian details. Not surprisingly, the continued application of this law to Kashmir has been a massive political problem.

Meant to protect soldiers who may kill a civilian by mistake during an operation, the act has ended up blocking all state-level attempts to prosecute soldiers for alleged charges of rape and murder. Separatists point to the law as an example of Delhi’s “imperialist designs” to occupy Kashmir. India’s reputation abroad suffers for its use of a law which arguably violates its international human rights obligations. But for the army’s insistence that it can’t do counterinsurgency without AFSPA, the law would have certainly been repealed by now.

Rather than wait endlessly for the law’s repeal, Mr. Abdullah this month proposed removing several peaceful districts in the state from the list of disturbed areas, which takes them out of AFSPA’s ambit. This move is welcome as both an acknowledgment of the improving situation in the state and a push toward complete normalcy.

Scaling back AFSPA’s application would bolster the standing of pro-India leaders in the state, allowing them to seize the political space in separatist strongholds. By taking away their strongest rallying cry, more separatists will be forced to seek negotiations with New Delhi, so that they can join the political mainstream.[WSJ]

Read the complete piece at the Wall Street Journal.

DISCLAIMER: This is an archived post from the Indian National Interest blogroll. Views expressed are those of the blogger's and do not represent The Takshashila Institution’s view.