The coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir will "thoroughly review the security situation in state" to determine the "need and desirability" of special laws, new chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed told the media after he and his 25-member cabinet took oath in Jammu today.
The reference was to the controversial and contentious Armed Forced Special Powers Act, or AFPSA -- which gives the army the authority to make arrests without warrants. His party, the People's Democratic Party, had demanded that AFSPA be removed from areas that were peaceful in the state. But alliance partner BJP and the Army had been unwilling to change their stand on the matter.
"The removing of AFSPA is not the main issue," the new Chief Minister said today. Asked if the current understanding on the matter was disappointing, he told NDTV, "I'm not disappointed. I am head of unified command. I know what's what. I will ensure that the army is accountable if there is any wrongdoing... if environment improves, AFSPA will also go."
But in PDP- BJP "Agenda of the Alliance," Mr Sayeed's party has conceded the decision on AFSPA to Union government. "The coalition government will examine the need for de-notifying 'disturbed areas'. This as a consequence, would enable the Union government to take a final view on the continuation of AFSPA in these areas," the CMP says.
The two parties, which had diametrically opposite views, took two months to come to an agreement. The result is a Common Minimum Programme, which will work as a roadmap for governing the state.
Offering some glimpses into the coalition government's stand on Article 370 - another contentious issue -- Mr Sayeed said, "While recognising the different positions of both parties, the present position will be maintained on all the constitutional provisions including special status."
On yet another demand of the PDP - initiation of talks with separatists, the coalition government's stand was to "facilitate and initiate sustained dialogue" with all internal stakeholders. Regarding talks with Pakistan, Mr Sayeed said, "I told the PM that we should be friends with Pakistan".
The coalition government, he said, "will be empowered to catalyse reconciliation and confidence-building measures" within and across LoC.