Army Chief General Bipin Rawat on Sunday asserted that the political initiative and military operations must go hand in hand in Jammu & Kashmir to usher in an era of peace in the state.
“The political initiative and all the other initiatives must go simultaneously hand-in-hand and only if all of us function in synergy, we can bring lasting peace in Kashmir. It has to be a politico-military approach that we have to adopt,” said General Rawat.
The chief expressed that there is room for ramping up pressure on Pakistan to cut the flow of cross-border terror activities. The statement comes just a week after the US President Donald Trump threatened to suspend the multi-million dollar financial aid to Pakistan for providing safe havens to terror groups.
The COAS, in an interview with news agency PTI, said that the conditions in Kashmir have ‘marginally’improved since he took over the reins of the Army from General Dalbir Singh Suhag. “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,” General Rawat said.
The Army has pursued an aggressive push to flush out terrorists and curb the insurgency in the state under Operation All Out. The Army chief in his annual press conference held on the eve of Army Day had also mentioned that the focus will now be shifted to North Kashmir from South Kashmir in the new year.
China mum over India Army chief's remarks on PLA troop reduction in Doklam General Bipin Rawat had on Monday said that there was a major reduction of Chinese troops in Doklam.
Talking about the appointment of Dineshwar Sharma as an interlocutor in the state to initiate dialogue, the COAS said, “When the government appointed an interlocutor, it is with 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.”
Meanwhile, General Rawat did not fail to mention the continuous need of the armed forces to formulate fresh strategies and device new tactics to deal with the situation on borders.
Facing flak over his statement saying the education system in Kashmir had corrupted and the youth are being radicalised, General Rawat reiterated that some youths continue to be radicalised and are joining militancy. The Army has been trying to maintain pressure on terror groups, he said, adding that the Army’s aim is to ensure that it continues to maintain the pressure on the terrorists and those fomenting trouble there.
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 cannot be status quoist. 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 the Army will have to evolve new strategies and new tactics to deal with the situation. At the same time, he said an overall approach was required to deal with the Kashmir issue.
Since 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 terror outfits. 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.