STATING THAT India is not averse to holding talks with Pakistan, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has said that Islamabad should also “take some initiative” and demonstrate its intent by stopping infiltration attempts and coming forward to “jointly launch action” against terrorists.
While he admitted that measures to restore normalcy in Kashmir, through initiatives like the appointment of an interlocutor, have not had the desired results, Singh said the government was committed to restoring peace and may extend the ceasefire in Kashmir after Ramzan “if the situation remains peaceful”.
“If Pakistan is ready to talk, why won’t we talk? We want to have good relations with our neighbour. But even the neighbour will have to take some initiative. Pakistan is firing at our borders, indulging in ceasefire violations. It is trying to infiltrate terrorists. It is not mending its ways. But it will have to (mend its ways) one day,” Singh said in an interview to The Sunday Express.
“During Ramzan, we have announced suspension of operation. But you are indulging in ceasefire violation. You don’t want that our Muslim brothers and sisters in Kashmir should get an opportunity to have a peaceful Ramzan… It shows your intentions. Pakistan has no sympathy for Kashmiris. If they had any sympathy, they would have welcomed our move. This is something even the people of Kashmir should understand. Pakistan treats Kashmiris as its tools,” he said.
Saying that Islamabad should demonstrate that it is willing to talk, he said: “Pakistan should stop pushing in terrorists… make a public statement (on talks). They keep saying we are not doing this. If it is so, let’s come together and jointly launch action against these terrorists. If they have the intent and honesty, they should do this.”
He said India had taken all the initiatives so far. “Isse zyada pehel kya ho sakti hai (What more initiative can be taken)? A B Vajpayee took the bus to Pakistan. Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke all protocol and went to Pakistan to meet Nawaz Sharif. What more do we do? Doesn’t Pakistan understand our intent? So why don’t they talk? Did any prime minister of Pakistan take steps like Vajpayee? Doesn’t Pakistan understand this,” he asked.
While saying that Pakistan is the main troublemaker in Kashmir, Singh ruled out any mediation on Kashmir with Islamabad. “Kashmir and Kashmiris were ours and will remain ours. India will never talk to Pakistan on Kashmir. Kisi ki kripa pe nahin hai (We are not at the mercy of anyone),” he said.
Asked whether the government’s initiatives to restore normalcy in Kashmir had brought the desired results, Singh said, “No, but things are improving. The improvement was not as expected, but it will happen.”
Stating that the government was committed to restoring peace, he said: “We have no problem in extending the ceasefire. But let’s watch for a month. If the situation remains peaceful in the Valley, we will extend it. But if terrorists try to destabilise the situation, the operations will resume.”
After tough action by security forces and NIA against militants, separatists and stone pelters, the government last year appointed former IB chief Dineshwar Sharma as the interlocutor for Kashmir. However, the situation in Kashmir is yet to show any significant improvement.
Singh was also critical of certain sections of the media demonising Kashmiris on TV, and said the government had taken action on this. When told that Kashmiris have an issue with TV coverage that shows them as anti-nationals, Singh said, “We have put brakes on that to a large extent. You will see, it is not happening so much anymore.”