By our correspondents
NEW DELHI/ISLAMABAD: Indian army chief Gen Manoj Mukund Naravane on Saturday said if his army receives orders from the Indian parliament to ‘reclaim’ Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK) from Pakistan, it will take action, international media reported.
Addressing the media, the newly-appointed Indian army chief said: “If the (Indian) parliament wants (Azad) Kashmir to be a part of India, then we will take the necessary action to achieve that goal.”
“There is a parliamentary resolution that entire Jammu and Kashmir is part of India. If parliament wants it, then, that area (AJK) also should belong to us,” he added.
This is not the first time the new Indian general has indulged in provocative posturing. In an earlier statement, Gen Naravane had said that India “reserve(d) the right to pre-emptively strike at sources of terror”. He had said that India had “evolved a strategy of resolute punitive response against sponsored terrorism”.
Pakistan had rejected the statement, calling it ‘irresponsible’.
The Foreign Office in its statement had said Pakistan was fully able to respond to any Indian aggression in AJK and that New Delhi should not forget Islamabad’s befitting response to its aggression in Balakot last year.
Tensions have been high between the two nuclear-armed neighbours since New Delhi revoked the special status of Indian-Occupied Kashmir (IOK) on August 5 of last year, imposing a military lockdown in the valley.
The two countries had in February last year engaged in cross-border aerial missions, which had resulted in the capture of Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman by Pakistani forces. The captured pilot was eventually let go by Pakistan as a gesture of peace.
Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor said in response to the Indian army chief’s statement that Pakistan’s armed forces will give an ‘even stronger’ response than that of February, if India attempts any military action across the Line of Control (LoC).
The Indian army chief’s statement on Azad Kashmir was a part of routine rhetoric to divert attention from domestic issues in India, said the DG ISPR.
Major General Asif Ghafoor, in a tweet, said that Pakistan’s armed forces are ready to respond to any Indian aggression.
“Statements by Indian COAS to undertake military action across LoC are routine rhetoric for domestic audiences to get out of ongoing internal turmoil. Pakistan Armed Forces are fully prepared to respond to any act of Indian aggression,” he tweeted.
The DG ISPR called the Indian COAS’ statement a latest manifestation of extremist indoctrination in India’s state institutions.
”We are aware of the dangers of belligerent fascist mindset in IOJ&K and to regional peace. World needs to take notice of Indian atrocities in IOJ&K and against minorities across India,” he said. “The military spokesman added that India has experienced Pakistan’s response on Feb 27, 2019. “Same shall be even stronger next time,” said the DG ISPR.
Prime Minister Imran Khan said in his reaction that an extremist RSS had taken over a nuclear-armed country of over a billion people, leading to bloodshed, as its ideology was based on racial superiority and hatred of the Muslims and all minorities.
The prime minister tweeted, “An extremist ideology RSS has taken over a nuclear-armed country of over a billion people. It is an ideology based on racial superiority & hatred of Muslims & all minorities. Whenever this genie has come out of the bottle, it has always led to bloodshed.”
He also uploaded an article, published in a leading English daily, which says, “Police, police.” While protesters scrambled to flee over the rooftops of the block in old Lucknow, dozens of officers burst in below, raining blows on women and children. The Muslim families cowered from their attackers.
“Take her veil off, check if she’s a man,” one officer yelled, pointing to Salma Hussain, 29, who wept as she recalled the humiliation. The women were groped and officers commented on their breasts as they beat them. “One man put a gun to my head,” said Tabasum Raza, 26. “He said: ‘Tell me where the men are hiding or I’ll shoot you’. Two photographs could also be seen on his Twitter account: one shows a protest by apparently Indian Muslim women, including veiled ones, carrying posters, one of which reads, “who the hell are (PM Modi) you to say I am not an Indian”.
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