Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is scheduled to visit Srinagar on September 29 and Siachen on September 30 to take stock of the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir, reported news agency ANI. During her visit, she is expected to meet senior commanders as well. This will be Sitharaman’s first visit to the state after she took charge of the ministry earlier this month.
Sitharaman’s visit to the state comes days after Union Minister Jitender Singh said there is need to “change the discourse” around J&K. He added that the only issue was “retrieving” the part which is under the illegal occupation of Pakistan. “There is need to change the discourse (on J&K) for future generations. We have to change the agenda.There is no such issue as Kashmir issue. It is as much a part of India as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar or any other state,” he was quoted as saying by PTI. “The only issue if at all is how to retrieve a part of Kashmir which is under the illegal occupation of Pakistan for the past 70 years and restore the Valley in the same format as was handed over by Maharaja Hari Singh.”
The Defence Minister recently held talks with US Defence Secretary James Mattis, during which she raised the issue of terrorist havens in Pakistan. In a joint press conference, Sitharaman had said, “The situation in our neighbourhood and the growing menace of cross-border terrorism were discussed in depth. We both recognise the importance of holding those who use terrorism as an instrument of state policy to account, and to dismantle the infrastructure that supports terrorism,” in a reference to Pakistan.
Mattis added that there can be “no tolerance to terrorism safe havens”.