New Delhi: Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat, who had recently warned against the threat from non-conventional weapons from non-state actors, stressed on Friday that political initiative must go hand-in-hand with military operations in Jammu and Kashmir in order to bring lasting peace in the state.
Army Chief, in a no-holds-barred interview with PTI, said that the political leadership of the country must exert more and more pressure on Pakistan to force it to stop cross-border terrorism.
”Political initiative must go hand-in-hand with military operations in J&K to bring lasting peace in the state,” Gen Bipin Rawat said.
Gen Rawat, while maintaining that ”there is room for ramping up pressure on Pakistan” also called for evolving new strategies to deal with terrorism in J&K.
”Army cannot be status quoist. It has to evolve new strategies to deal with terrorism in J&K,” the Army Chief said.
Gen Rawat also outlined that that Indian Army will continue to maintain pressure on terrorists and those fomenting trouble in Kashmir.
He favoured ramping up military offensive to pile up the heat on Pakistan to stop cross-border terrorism in the state.
Gen Rawat also expressed satisfaction that the situation in J&K is “marginally” better since he took over a year ago.
In October, the government had appointed former Intelligence Bureau chief Dineshwar Sharma as its special representative for a “sustained dialogue” with all stakeholders in J&K.
“When the government appointed an interlocutor, it is for that purpose. He is the government’s representative to reach out to the people of Kashmir and see what their grievances are so that those can then be addressed at a political level,” the Army Chief said.
Asked whether there is room for ramping up pressure on Pakistan to force it to stop sending terrorists to the state, he said, “Yes, You have to continuously think and keep moving forward. You have to keep changing your doctrines and concept and the manner in which you operate in such areas.”
Gen Rawat said that an overall approach was required to deal with the Kashmir issue.
Since the beginning of last year, the Army pursued an aggressive anti-terror policy in Jammu and Kashmir and, at the same time, forcefully responded to all ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops along the Line of Control with a tit-for-tat approach.
“Military is only part of the mechanism to resolve the Kashmir issue. Our charter is to ensure that the terrorists who are creating violence in the state are taken to task and those who have been radicalised and are increasingly moving towards terrorism are prevented from doing so,” he said.
Gen Rawat said some youths continue to be radicalised and are joining militancy. The Army has been trying to maintain pressure on terror groups, he said.
The Army’s aim is to ensure that it continues to maintain the pressure on the terrorists and those fomenting trouble there, Gen Rawat said.
“But at the same time, we have to also reach out to the people,” he said.
Asked whether the situation in Kashmir has improved since he has taken over as the Army chief a year ago, Gen Rawat said, “I am only seeing a marginal change in situation for the better.
“I do not think it is time to become over-confident and start assuming that the situation has been brought under control because infiltration from across the borders will continue.”
The LoC has remained volatile in the last year. According to official figures, 860 incidents of ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops were reported in 2017 as against 221 the year before.
India has also been effectively retaliating to Pakistani firing and even crossed the LoC to punish Pakistani troops on several occasions as part of tactical operations.
(With PTI inputs)