army targeting, destroying terror camps in pak: defence minister

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‘We are finishing militants, decimating infiltration’

JAMMU: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said today that the Indian Army has been targeting and destroying terrorist camps in Pakistan to reduce number of infiltration attempts and militants sneaking into this side and declared that Pakistan has been isolated globally for aiding and abetting terrorism.

“We are doing it. We are finishing them (the terrorist camps). Please don’t ask for proof. I won’t disclose where, but we have been targeting and destroying the terrorist camps (in Pakistan),’’ Sitharaman said at ‘Agenda Aaj Tak’.

Reiterating that Pakistan continued to support terrorism and hasn’t taken any action on the dossiers given by India, the Defence Minister said the militants are still trying to infiltrate though their number has reduced.

“We are not leaving them. We are finishing them (the militants),’’ she said.

Nirmala Sitharaman’s statement assumed significance as Indian Army has been retaliated to ceasefire violations from Pakistan very effectively. There were reports that the ceasefire violations were aimed at infiltrating militants into Jammu and Kashmir.

“We are trying to decimate infiltration. We are in process of this. Army has been doing a lot on the borders,’’ the Defence Minister said.

However, she refused to disclose the Government strategy on dealing with the situation in Kashmir.

Asked what was the “Kashmir strategy’’ of the Centre, Sitharaman said the strategy can’t be disclosed in public.

To a question that Hafiz Saeed, Maulana Masood Azhar and Syed Salah-ud-Din continued to operate from Pakistan and whether India planned any United States like operation, which had targeted Osama bin Laden inside Pakistan, the Defence Minister said: “have trust and faith in the Government’’.

Pointing out that the Indian Government was constantly working towards isolating Pakistan at international level, Sitharaman said India has achieved massive success on this front and this was for the first time that there has been complete isolation of Pakistan at the international level.

“Even United States has imposed economic sanctions against Pakistan,’’ she noted.

She said the Indian Government continued to work for further isolation of Pakistan and economic pressure on them for aiding and abetting terrorism in India. Pakistan has started feeling the heat, she added.

Asserting that Indian Army has been exercising maximum restraint in dealing with civilians in the Kashmir valley, Sitharaman said: “You can see the pictures Army acting with extreme caution and patience against the stone wielding crowds to avoid casualties. They (the troops) have been operating with extreme caution. They are exercising maximum restrain dealing with the crowds’’.

On anger shown by former Chief Minister and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti over handling of situation in the Kashmir valley by the Centre and State Governments especially in the wake of killings of seven civilians in Pulwama, the Defence Minister said she had met Mehbooba thrice in the Valley when she was the Chief Minister.

“I briefed her that Army has been doing excellent job. It has been running Goodwill Schools for civilians, holding Bharat Darshan programme for students and many other people-friendly works like Skill Development,’’ she said, adding the Government is gearing up further to boost development in Jammu and Kashmir.

Responding to a question on remarks of former Northern Command Chief Lt Gen DS Hooda, who had executed the surgical strikes in 2016 that the surgical strikes shouldn’t have been politicise or over-hyped, Sitharaman said the Government never over-hyped the surgical strikes.

“We just wanted to finish terrorist camps in PoK. But it was the Opposition, which asked for proof of the surgical strikes. They should have trusted the Government statement on such a sensitive issue,’’ she said and asked: “Why the Government should have stayed silent when the Opposition was creating pressure and asking for proof’’?

The Defence Minister said such statements (by the Opposition) discourage the Army and affect tactical and strategic advantage the troops had gained.

She said if the Opposition had any issues, they should have talked privately to the Prime Minister or the concerned Minister. Instead, she regretted, the Opposition started questioning the strikes.

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