“Any local militant who is picking up the gun against security forces, he will no longer be a militant, that is one strategy that anybody who picks up the gun against the Army will no longer be a militant. The gun and the man will be separated. The man will go to the grave and the gun will be with us. But this is not the end of everything,” he said during a media interaction in Drass, where the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Kargil War victory was held at the Kargil War Memorial.
“We are trying to approach civilian society, the parents, Moulvis, the sisters and brothers of terrorists (to say) that this is not the way forward. You have to shun the gun and come over ground. I am quite certain that parents didn’t make them do PhDs to join terrorist ranks. They made them do PhDs and graduation in the hope that in old age these people will look after them. But that is not happening,” General Rawat said.
Apart from Chief of Army Staff General Rawat, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa and Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh took part in the wreath-laying ceremony at the memorial.
Terming the Kargil War anniversary a “historic” moment, General Rawat said that Pakistan is making attempts to keep the Kashmir issue alive. “These are desperate attempts to a venture that they feel is gradually dying down. Every attempt is made by them [Pakistan] to ensure the K [Kashmir] issue is kept alive because now they have been singled out as a state that has been sponsoring terrorism on Indian soil,” he said. “Radicalisation and social media is being extensively used to fuel trouble in our state of Jammu and Kashmir.”
The “economic condition” of Pakistan is in bad shape, he said, “that is why they are ready to do anything that will get them money.”
To a question about Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s remarks on US mediation on Kashmir, General Rawat said, “There is a difference between talk and action. And you should only believe in talk when you see action happening on the ground.”
Asked about operational challenges as Army chief, General Rawat said his “ Our soldier is capable of fighting even when there is no food available. The only thing he needs is good weapon, ammunition and devices… That is the only challenge and that is where the effort is…”
President Ram Nath Kovind was scheduled to arrive in Drass on Friday morning. However, the aircraft could not land due to bad weather. The President later paid homage to the Kargil heroes at a ceremony in Srinagar’s Badami Bagh cantonment.