In a candid admission, Minister of State (MoS) Home Affairs Hansraj Ahir said on Sunday that Pakistan has achieved some success in fomenting unrest in Kashmir over the last three years, adding that India nevertheless “had responded in equal measure” to the cross-border infiltration backed by Islamabad.
“Terror-related incidents in Kashmir have reduced significantly over the last two decades. In 1995, Kashmir witnessed over 5,000 terror incidents. In 2015, that number had gone down to 208. The next two years saw a marginal increase in terror activities in the Valley, with 322 and 342 terror incidents being reported in 2016 and 2017 respectively,” Ahir noted during his address at the National Security: Delhi NCR Dialogue, organised by Pune-based think tank Global Strategic Policy Foundation in New Delhi, a media report said.
“While after a considerable effort, Pakistan has been able to achieve some success in meeting its objective of creating trouble in Kashmir, our security forces have responded in equal measure,” said Ahir, the Lok Sabha MP from Maharashtra’s Chandrapur constituency.
The minister’s remarks came on the day when the government announced the resumption of counter-terrorism operations in Kashmir, which had been halted on May 17 as part of Narendra Modi government’s strategy to create goodwill during the holy month of Ramzan in the insurgency-hit state.
“The suspension of operations last month was a genuine attempt on our part to create goodwill and an atmosphere for peace in Kashmir. But peace can’t come at the cost of lives of our soldiers and civilians,” said Ahir, as he condemned the assassination of veteran journalist Shujaat Bukhari and Indian Army troop Aurangzeb this week.
The four-time BJP MP squarely blamed Pakistan for both the incidents, stating that Islamabad had always subverted India’s attempts to restore normalcy in Kashmir. “Each of their governments have tried to undermine the peace process in Kashmir. But we will continue with our battle till things in Kashmir get back to normal,” Ahir said in front of a crowd comprising largely of retired army and naval officers.
MoS External Affairs General VK Singh, another keynote speaker at the event, remarked that “exposing” the nexus between the Pakistani state and terror groups on various international fora had been a major achievement of the Modi government.