Maintaining that the men behind the Pulwama attack were killed within 100 hours, and that the UN Security Council’s resolution condemning the attack is a success of the Narendra Modi government, Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Saturday said that through terrorism, Pakistan wants to force India to start a dialogue, but this is “no time for dialogue”.
Calling the Kashmir issue a “one-line issue”, Puri, who was in Rajkot to lead the BJP’s ‘Bharat ke mann ki baat, Modi ke saath’ campaign, said Pakistan is using terrorism as an instrument of policy.
The Bharat ke Mann ki baat campaign is meant to seek public feedback to prepare the party’s Lok Sabha election manifesto.
Addressing the media, Puri said, “Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India — there cannot be a second opinion on this. But they (Pakistan) want to spread terrorism, and with such terrorist strikes they want to force us to the table for dialogue. But I believe, they have made a big mistake —- there is government of Modi (at the Centre), which is a very strong government.” Puri, however, refused to elaborate on what would be an appropriate response to the Pulwama attack.
Addressing the media here, Puri, Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs (independent charge), said, “Within 100 hours, those who staged the (Pulwama) attack, were killed. After that, Pakistan was isolated internationally. In the past, Pakistan’s friends used to block any condemnation by the UN Security Council (UNSC) of such attacks. But this time, the Security Council has condemned the attack and passed a resolution, terming the attack a heinous and cowardly act.”
Puri also pointed out that the UNSC has also named the terrorist organisation responsible for the attack, and specified that the organisation is based in Pakistan. “This is already a success of the Modi government,” he maintained.
Puri, a retired Indian Foreign Service officer who had served as India’s permanent representative to the UN, reiterated that unlike governments of the past, the Modi government had given a befitting reply to the attack.
On February 18, four days after the suicide attack on the CRPF convoy, two Pakistani militants and a local militant were killed in an encounter in Pulwama. Four soldiers, a police constable and a civilian were also killed in the encounter. Lt Gen K J S Dhillon, 15 Corps commander, had said the following day that the forces had eliminated the “Jaish-e-Mohammad leadership in the Valley, which was being operated from Pakistan,” in less than 100 hours after the attack on the CRPF convoy.
Taking a dig at Punjab minister and Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu for his remarks that the entire nation of Pakistan should not be demonised for the attack, and that the focus should be on eliminating terror and terrorists, Puri said, “This is no time for jhappi and pappi (hugs and kisses) politics. Even at the groundbreaking ceremony of Kartarpur Corridor (in Pakistan), I had warned that the deep state in Pakistan has not changed much.. But my friend from Punjab, who is a cricket player, doesn’t know much about diplomacy and politics. He also acts in TV serials.”
On the ongoing debate over whether to play Pakistan in the forthcoming cricket World Cup, the minister said he was not in favour of cricketing ties with Pakistan in the present circumstances.
While laying the foundation stone of Kartarpur Corridor on November 28 last year, the visa-free corridor for Sikhs from India to visit Kartarpur Sahib, where Guru Nanak is said to have spent his final days, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had praised Sidhu for attending the event.
While maintaining that he does not see the Kartarpur Corridor through the “prism of tension” prevailing between India and Pakistan in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack, Puri criticised the Congress government in Punjab for the corridor’s maps. “I am a Sikh, and sometimes I feel surprised by the cartography used by my Congress friends,” he said.
Country to be open-defecation free by October
Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri expressed confidence that the Housing and Urban Affairs ministry would achieve the target of making India an open-defecation-free country by October this year, and provide housing to every citizen of the country by the year 2022. The Minister of State holds independent charge of the ministry.
Puri sad that 94 per cent of the target for construction of individual toilets in urban areas under the Swachh Bharat Mission had been achieved. “I am confident that the target will be achieved cent per cent before October this year,” he said. As for community and public toilets, 100 percent of the target has been achieved, he said. The Mission is aimed at building 67 lakh individual household toilets and around five lakh community and public toilets in urban areas.