Amidst raging debate over Jammu and Kashmir government's intention to revoke Armed Forces Special Powers Act from parts of the state, Army on Thursday made its case clear saying any such move will handicap the capability of the force to conduct counter insurgency operations.
"We have a situation which has now carried on for more than 20 years and the Army requires the provisions to enable it to act... Without the provisions, the Army will be handicapped," General Officer Commanding in Chief for Northern Command Lt Gen K T Parnaik told reporters, 200 kms from Srinagar.
The Army commander, who visited this village - located on the Line of Control - in north Kashmir's Kupwara district, said removing the AFSPA from certain areas of the state will make it difficult for the Army to operate.
"It is a question of the confidence and trust that you repose in your Army. If you are removing the Act from certain areas then it will become difficult for the Army to operate in the manner we operate now," he said.
Debate over the partial revocation of AFSPA and Disturbed Areas Act, introduced in 1990 to give the Army and paramilitary forces powers to detain suspects and use deadly force began last month when Chief Minister Omar Abdullah announced that Acts will be revoked from parts of the state "within few days".
Lt Gen Parnaik, who was accompanied by General Officer Commanding of Srinagar based 15 Corps Lt Gen S A Hasnain, termed AFSPA as an "enabling" Act and said it was not a draconian law.
"The fact is that partial revocation from the areas may be seen as a genuine thing because there seems to be peace here. But peace is very fragile," he said. "After all we have seen one of the most peaceful summers in 2011 and that has happened with AFSPA only," he said.
He said if AFSPA is revoked from certain areas, "terrorists and inimical elements" will exploit the situation. "We don't want that to happen," he said.
Linking the revocation of AFSPA with the dismantling of the militant infrastructure across the border, Lt Gen Parnaik said it is not the "correct time" to remove the law till there is interference from Pakistan.
"We are not looking only at a few places or counter- terrorist operations or peace in few areas. It (AFSPA) has to be seen in context of the entire proxy war which is going on. The proxy war in J-K is externally abetted by Pakistan," he said.
"Therefore, we feel that unless we are able to neutralize that infrastructure and unless we are able to remove interference from Pakistan, it may not be the correct time for us to think of revoking it partially," he said.
The commander said Army was not on a confrontational path with any one and pleaded that there should be more discussions before taking a final call.
"There is no confrontation with anyone and these issues need a lot of discussions and deliberations. We have made our stance clear to the state government. I have had discussions with the high powered committee which came here for review recently and we continue to have dialogue with them," Lt Gen Parnaik said.
He said the chief minister had asked the Army to give its recommendations earlier this year.
"On our part, we have sensitised them on the manner in which it will affect our operations," he said.
"We have to see whether the AFSPA's revocation is a matter of security or political dispensation. It will all happen after discussions with the people who are concerned," he said.