Union Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, who was on a two-day trip to Jammu and Kashmir, said on Sunday that India is strong enough to stop elements inimical to the country. His remarks came a day after the al-Qaeda released a video calling for jihad to liberate Kashmir.
“I am reasonably confident that the strength of India, as a state not to allow such elements to foment trouble in India, is considerable,” Jaitley said. He, however, was quick to sound a caution. “Even when I am optimistic, there is an element of caution in my optimism because people inimical to India, as the example you have just given, will try to foment trouble”.
Jaitley, addressing a press conference in Srinagar at the end of his visit, said the government would see how the situation develops. “Obviously, there are forces which are inimical to India,” he said. “We won’t like these to continue and therefore we factor all this in when we discuss the situation.”
The defence minister, who visited the LoC in Uri sector, said the peace process and the ceasefire violations can’t go hand-in-hand. “For the situation to normalise, I think it is extremely important that these kinds of violations which are taking place must stop,” he said. “That in itself is a Confidence Building Measure before any country can proceed”.
When asked whether Pakistan or China is a bigger threat, he downplayed it. “Well, there are not questions you answer in the abstract by using phraseology like threat,” he said. “India is quite capable of handling its own sovereignty”.
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Departing from Vajpayee’s “insaniyat ke dayirae mein (within the ambit of humanity)”, Jaitley said that talks with the separatists could be held only within the “framework of Constitution”.
“We are willing to talk to everybody who wants to function within the framework of the Indian Constitution and sovereignty,” he said. “These are two issues with which there can be no compromise”.
Though Jaitely said he is satisfied of the security situation in the state, he ducked a question on the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). “After this assessment, I am hopeful I am going back with a sense of reasonable satisfaction,” he said. “Over the period of time, we have to watch how the situation turns. Today I am not in a position to comment (on AFSPA).”