Taking a tough line over ceasefire violations in Jammu and Kashmir, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday warned Pakistan that it would have to bear an “unaffordable” cost if it continued with its “adventurism”. He ruled out talks with Pakistan and praised Indian forces for a “commendable” job in the “face of these unprovoked acts of aggression”.
“Our jawans have given a fitting response to the aggression. I don’t need to talk, people know my intentions. My jawans are doing all the talking with their fingers always on the trigger. The enemy has got to know that things have changed now, that their old habits can’t continue,” he said.
A Reuters report from Islamabad quoted the Pakistan government as saying it was capable of responding “befittingly” to Indian actions. “We do not want the situation on the borders of two nuclear neighbours to escalate into confrontation,” the Pakistan Defence Ministry said in a statement. “India must demonstrate caution and behave with responsibility.”
Speaking at an election rally in Baramati, the home turf of NCP leader Sharad Pawar in Maharashtra, Modi criticised those targeting the government on the border issue, saying this would demoralise those fighting on the border.
“Such an issue should not be part of a political debate… Elections will come and go, governments will come and go, but please don’t demoralise those fighting on the border by debating these things for political gains.”
”I am shocked to hear from Sharadrao (Pawar) that while bullets are being fired by Pakistan on the border and innocent lives are being taken, I am busy campaigning for assembly polls. What can be more inspiring than being in the land of Shivaji Maharaj at such an hour. I want to ask him, when you were defence minister, there were several instances of aggression from China and Pakistan. Did you visit the border then?”
“When the Mumbai attacks happened, BJP was in opposition but never politicised the issue. We supported the government by treating it as an attack on the nation,” Modi said.
In New Delhi, addressing a press conference, Jaitley said: “India is a responsible state. It is never an aggressor. But at the same time, it has a paramount duty to defend its people and its territory. Our armed forces, particularly the Army and BSF in this case, have only one option — to respond adequately and defend our territory and our people.”
“Pakistan in this case has clearly been the aggressor. But it must realise that our deterrence will be credible. If Pakistan persists with this adventurism, our forces will make the cost of this adventurism unaffordable,” he said.
Reiterating that the response to Pakistani provocation will be “effective”, Jaitley said while he would not speculate on the “designs” behind the ceasefire violations, the firing could be “intended to be a cover for infiltration” and an effort to precipitate tensions for “both domestic and international reasons”.
“Pakistan should stop this unprovoked firing and shelling if it wants peace. As long as that continues, how can there be peace? How can you talk when firing is on?”
On the criticism by opposition parties, Jaitley said responses from “some” political leaders are “ill-informed”.
“Leaders across political parties must understand what our forces are doing there… I have seen some ill-informed responses from some senior leaders… in this, it is not only Congress leaders but also a NCP leader who has been a former defence minister… at least, he should have known,” he said.