Says Democratic Process To Return Soon But Refuses To Give Timeframe
Jammu, June 26 (GNS): Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday said that the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) will be withdrawn from Jammu and Kashmir once permanent peace was established in J&K.
He also said that democratic process will soon start in J&K but declined to give a precise time frame for conducting the Assembly polls.
“I cannot provide a specific timeline but I assure you that it will not be a lengthy process. That is what I can confidently say,” he said.
Addressing a security conclave in Jammu, he said, “Today, the AFSPA has been removed from large parts of the northeast. I eagerly await the day when permanent peace will be established in Jammu and Kashmir and the AFSPA can also be lifted from the region.”
He said national security is the Government’s top-most priority and it is committed to protect the sovereignty, unity & integrity of the country.
He asserted that India has witnessed a paradigm shift in its security scenario in the last nine years. Singh pointed out that India’s image in 2013-14 was that of a weak nation which allowed its adversaries to create problems, but today the country has the ability to overcome every threat.
Elaborating on the blueprint on national security, he stated that the Government has been working on four directive principles- to enable the country to deal with threats to its security and sovereignty; to take every action to protect national interests; to create safe conditions within the country to facilitate progress, improve the lives of the people & fulfil their aspirations and to build an environment with friendly countries to tackle global challenges such as terrorism unitedly.
Singh stated that no stone is being left unturned to equip the military with latest weaponry and modern technology, assuring the Nation that the Armed Forces are fully capable of protecting the borders and the seas. “Our goal is to bring our Armed Forces in the frontline of modern militaries,” he said.
“Since long time, Pakistan has tried to destabilise peace and harmony in the country through cross-border terrorism. However, when we came to power, we launched an effective action against terrorism. We showed the world the meaning of ‘zero tolerance against terrorism’. The bold and first-of-its-kind moves to eliminate terrorists following the Uri and Pulwama incidents are proof of India’s ‘zero tolerance against terrorism’ policy and the unmatched valour of the Armed Forces. Today, most of the countries are united against terrorism. The joint statement issued after the Prime Minister’s meeting with US President Mr Joe Biden is an indication of how India has changed the mind-set of the world on the issue of terrorism,” the Raksha Mantri said.
Singh said that the network of militancy in Jammu & Kashmir has substantially weakened in the last few years as strict and consistent action is being taken. “(Militant) funding has been curbed. Supply of arms and drugs to (militants) has been stopped. Along with elimination of (militants), work is being done to dismantle the network of Under Ground workers,” he said as per GNS.
On the abrogation of Article 370, he said that the decision has connected the people of J&K with the country’s mainstream and helped them to usher in a new era of peace & progress.
On PaK, Singh said, Pakistan does not have a locus standi there as it has “illegally occupied” the area. The Indian Parliament has unanimously passed at least three resolutions, which state that PaK is a part of India, he said.
He termed the border situation with China as a matter of perceptional difference, but there are agreements and protocols, based on which the armies of both the countries carry out the patrolling. Referring to the stand-off in East Ladakh in 2020, he said, the Chinese Army ignored the agreed protocols and unilaterally tried to change the status quo on the LAC. He lauded the valour and dedication of the Indian Army which prevented the attempts by PLA to change the status quo.
Singh reiterated the Government’s stand to resolve the border issue through dialogue and in a peaceful manner. He said that the talks are continuing at military and diplomatic levels to resolve the dispute. He assured the nation that the Government will never compromise on India’s border, its honour and self-respect. “We will never let the sanctity of our borders be violated,” he added.
The minister touched upon the measures taken by the Government to bolster national security, including strengthening border infrastructure and achieving ‘Aatmanirbharta’ in defence. He listed out a number of steps taken to attain self-reliance, namely notification of positive indigenisation lists and earmarking 75% of defence capital procurement budget for domestic industry in Financial Year 2023-24. “India does not want to depend on imported weapons. Our national security will only strengthen when we become self-reliant in defence manufacturing. Our aim is to ‘Make in India, Make for the world’. Our efforts are bearing fruit. Today, we are manufacturing tanks, aircraft carriers, submarines and various kinds of weapons. Defence exports have crossed Rs 16,000 crore from a meagre Rs 900 crore before 2014. The exports will soon touch the Rs 20,000 crore mark,” he said.
Singh also enumerated the structural reforms undertaken by the Government, including the appointment of Chief of Defence Staff and setting up of Department of Military Affairs. He added that the Government continues to move forward and work is being done to set up theatre commands, which will be another revolutionary reform.
He also shed light on the transformed image of India on the global stage under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He stated that today the world keenly listens to India on international forums due to the Prime Minister’s credibility on the global stage.(GNS)