Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s velvet glove touch for Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is off. After nearly two years of all kinds of soft diplomacy, Modi has hit out at Pakistan for being the root cause of all the trouble in the Kashmir valley.
Reeling out details of the number of terrorists arrested and weapons recovered since 1989, Modi said that in this period more than 5,000 militants who have infiltrated from across the border have been killed. ‘‘This is equal to five battalions in the army,” he emphasised.
Modi, who chaired an all-party meeting at the end of the monsoon session of Parliament, took the battle against Pakistan into Balochistan and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir while asserting that Islamabad has no business to criticise India for the use of force against protesters. ‘‘Pakistan forgets that it rains bombs on its own people through fighter planes. The time has now come when Pakistan would have to explain its atrocities against the people of Balochistan and Pakistan occupied Kashmir,” he said.
This is for the first time in Modi’s tenure that India has retaliated against Pakistan for making comments about the situation in Kashmir by referring to these trouble spots across the border; more so, since Pakistani leaders keep blaming the Indian agency RAW for terror attacks in these regions.
The all party meeting was a consensual affair reflecting the bipartisanship that was witnessed in Parliament session with every one speaking ‘‘in one voice and with one intent.’’ But as union minister Rajnath Singh said at a media briefing after the meeting there has been no decision on sending an all party delegation to Kashmir as demanded by almost all the political parties. Singh said that before such a delegation visits the state a lot of ground work has to be done and he has discussed this issue with state chief minister Mehbooba Mufti. A decision about the delegation’s visit would be taken after getting the feedback from the state government. “Once state Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti informs me that the ground work has been done, we will consider sending it,” Singh said.
Singh also said the government would reach out to the people of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir living in various parts of the world and reveal to them the pitiable conditions in the area.
On the controversial issue of the use of pellet guns for crowd control, Jaitley, who was also present at the media briefing, said an expert committee has already been formed by the Home Ministry and once a report is filed, a decision will be taken. “We have to see the security implications as well as the alternative options. The pellet guns have been used in 2010 also. It is getting highlighted this time only,” Jaitley said.
As regards talks with the Kashmiri separatist leaders, he said the decision will be taken on the basis of the prevailing situation.
In an oblique hint at the Islamisation of the Kashmir unrest, the union finance minister observed that the changes in the global scenario have also influenced the region. He said that the all-party consensus shows that the nation is united in its fight against Pakistan on this issue. ‘‘We shall maintain a strict vigil against terrorism and violence, but we shall also have empathy for the people of Kashmir. The out- reach process began with the home minister’s visit, and steps are being taken to restore normalcy,” he added.