PDP to attend PM's all party-meet on Kashmir

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New Delhi, Sep 15 (ANI): Jammu and Kashmir's opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP), which stayed away from the earlier all-party meetings to discuss the Kashmir Valley unrest, will on Wednesday attend the meeting convened by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to discussion the deteriorating situation in Kashmir.

"PM's initiative is a big meeting where all national parties will discuss the issue. Kashmir is a complicated problem and we want to be part of its resolution," said PDP President Mehbooba Mufti.

The PDP had earlier on July 12 boycotted a similar meeting despite calls from Dr Singh to Mehbooba Mufti, who advised her to attend the all-party meeting. The PDP had described the exercise as futile claiming that the State Government had nothing new to offer as it had exhausted all its options.

The PDP was of the view that Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had done 'nothing on the ground' to improve the security situation and start a dialogue with separatists.

"The PM called and advised (me) to attend the meeting. It was painful for me to convey to the Prime Minister that we can't as the state government was doing nothing on the ground," Mehbooba had then said at a press conference at her residence in Srinagar.

"No initiative at the state level could defuse the crisis. A bigger and concrete political initiative from the Prime Minister is necessary to normalise the situation here," she added.

The meeting is likely to discuss a whole range of issues, including the decision to withdraw or amend the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).

The Union Government is hoping to use today's meeting to evolve a consensus on restarting dialogue with different sections of people in Jammu and Kashmir.

On Monday, the Cabinet Committee on Security met and then decided to convene an all-party meeting.

Dr Singh is expected to make an opening statement at the start of Wednesday's deliberations, and then open the floor to other leaders to make their points of view on the situation prevailing in the state.

Wednesday's meeting is likely to be followed by another meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security, where participants are likely to discuss and evolve a series of confidence-building measures for Jammu and Kashmir.

Meanwhile, Defence Minister A K Antony has stressed that the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) is critical for ensuring legal immunity to officers and troops, who are fighting a "proxy war" in states like Jammu and Kashmir and the North East.

He also said a decision on the situation in the Kashmir Valley will be taken by the Centre after Wednesday's all-party meeting.

"Important decisions have to be taken after carefully assessing all aspects," he said.

Antony also appealed to all sides to show restraint.

The series of meeting held both in New Delhi and Srinagar over the past several weeks is because of the violence and rising death toll in the Kashmir Valley.

At least 75 people have died in the last three months. The valley has also been subjected to a series of shutdowns and frequent curfews during this period. (ANI)

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