Defence Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday said the Indian forces were fully prepared for stern response to any ceasefire violation by Pakistan, and slammed its envoy for inviting Kashmiri separatists for talks by making it clear that now Islamabad has to decide what kind of relations it wanted with New Delhi.
After his day-long visit of forward posts along the International Border in Amritsar, the Union minister on his Facebook page posted, “Visited Kasowal BN enclave and interacted with our brave army and BSF jawans guarding the international border. Our jawans are fully prepared to respond to any ceasefire violations by Pakistan (sic).” He later made a similar post on Twitter.
In Amritsar, while responding to a query on India calling off the Foreign Secretary-level talks with Pakistan, he told reporters, “It is clear. With these kinds of provocation and ceasefire violation, and more seriously invitations being given to separatists for talks, it is for Pakistan to decide what kind of relations it wants with India.”
Jaitley’s visit to forward posts and the comment came on day when Pakistan Rangers fired mortars on at least 20 BSF posts along the International Border in Arnia and R S Pura sectors in Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistani forces have been regularly violating ceasefire along the border and the LoC this year and the recent spurt in such incidents came in the backdrop of Prime Minister Narendra Modi visiting Ladakh and accusing Pakistan of waging a proxy war.
The defence minister said for the last few days Pakistan was deliberately violating ceasefire. “And earlier this ceasefire violation used to be at the LoC, but was now taking place at International Border as well.”
This, he said, indicated that “Pakistan and powers in Pakistan do not want normal relations (between India and Pakistan)”.
The minister said he went to the International Border with Army Chief Gen. Dalbir Singh and saw Army’s preparedness. “I am confident that our soldiers are capable enough to give a befitting reply and are guarding the border effectively.”
Responding to a query relating to defence capability, Jaitley said, “Army has always been strong enough to face any challenge”. He, however, added the defence capability in terms of procurements needed to be stepped up.
Supporting proposal of 49 per cent FDI in defence, the minister pitched for indigenisation of weapons production and noted that 70 per cent of weapons used by India were purchased from overseas. “India has become the biggest purchaser of the weapons (from abroad). No one ever thought to manufacture these indigenously,” he said.
On the political front, while speaking a meeting of BJP and SAD leaders, he blamed the previous UPA government for the India’s current economic situation and asserted that the NDA government was working towards creating an investor-friendly environment.