ĎAgainst dilution of AFSPA; Siachen strategically importantí

The Army is against the dilution of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Jammu and Kashmir, Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh said on Monday. He also said that any move to demilitarise the Siachen glacier has to be taken after due consideration as the area is strategically important.

Making his stand clear, the Army Chief said the AFSPA is an enabling Act and any move to revoke it has to be taken after considering inputs from all stakeholders and security agencies. "I am of the view that we should not dilute provisions of the AFSPA. Terrorists are afraid of this because this gives us powers to carry out operations against inimical elements and enemies of the state who defy the rule of law," he said.

The Army Chief said that the Act was vital as it gave the Army the ability to operate in a difficult situation. "It gives us additional powers to operate in an environment which is marked by very high degree of uncertainty and complexity and an asymmetric environment where you cannot differentiate between a friend and a foe as the terrorist merges with the backdrop and hides amongst the locals," he said.

The Army Chief also said that the Siachen glacier remains strategically important for India and any decision to demilitarise it should be taken keeping in mind the sacrifices made by the Army to secure the region. "It is strategically important for us. It is our area and we need to continue to hold it," he said, adding that a decision in this regard should be taken while taking into account the trust deficit with the Pakistani Army. "It (the decision) is to be taken in the backdrop of the trust deficit which is to be addressed and we have got to wait and watch the conduct of the Pakistan Army and then take a call on it," he said.

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