Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday said Jammu and Kashmir would always be an integral part of India and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Gilgit-Baltistan were illegally occupied by Pakistan, while describing Article 370 as “an artificial barrier that stands removed”.
“Jammu and Kashmir will always be an integral part of India and the government is ensuring that the Union Territory, like the rest of the country, touches newer heights of progress. Article 370 was an artificial legal barrier. Its abrogation brought a new dawn of hope to the dreams and aspirations of the people, especially the youth,” said Mr. Singh, who was speaking on the occasion of ‘Kargil Vijay Diwas’ in Jammu.
He said Pakistan, after tasting defeats in direct wars of 1965 and 1971, adopted the path of proxy war.
“For over two decades, it has tried to ‘bleed India with a thousand cuts’. But, time and again, our brave soldiers have shown that no one can disturb the unity, integrity and sovereignty of India,” the Defence Minister said.
He said India wanted friendship with our neighbour “but don’t know why Pakistan is behaving differently”. “Pakistan’s behaviour is totally different. During the Kargil war, Pakistani intruders had sneaked into Indian territory, but when Indian soldiers launched their attack, Pakistani soldiers and intruders had to flee from Indian posts,” Mr. Singh said.
Terming PoK and Gilgit-Baltistan “illegally occupied by Pakistan”, Mr. Singh said, “A resolution to free it has been unanimously passed in Parliament of India,” he added
He said the entire area of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh became the main war theatre during the 1948, 1962, 1965, 1971 and 1999 wars. “Enemies tried to cast an evil eye, but those plans were thwarted by the gallant Indian soldiers,” he said.
The Union Minister said India had become a strong and confident nation, which was well-equipped to protect its people from anyone who tried to cast an evil eye.
‘Self-reliant defence ecosystem’
“The sole aim of the government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is to safeguard the interests of the nation and it has taken a series of steps to develop a self-reliant defence ecosystem that provides indigenous state-of-the-art weapons and equipment to the armed forces to fight all kinds of future wars,” Mr. Singh said.
He said the government’s priority “was to achieve ‘Atma Nirbharta’ in defence as it is central to developing a robust security apparatus for the safety and security of the nation.”
“To realise this vision, 68% of the defence budget has been earmarked for procurement of defence equipment from domestic sources. From a net importer, we have now become a net exporter, which is not only catering to our own needs, but is also fulfilling the requirements of our friendly countries, in line with the ‘Make in India, Make for the World’ vision,” the Minister said.
He said the government had set a target of ₹35,000 crores worth of exports to achieve by 2025 and become a top exporter in the times to come. “Our aim is to make India a global superpower. This will be a fitting tribute to our fallen heroes who made the supreme sacrifice while dreaming of an India which is strong, prosperous, self-reliant and victorious,” said the Defence Minister.
He also recalled the bravery of many soldiers who laid down their lives to protect the unity and integrity of India on the occasion.
Referring to challenges and international pressure during the Kargil war, Mr. Singh said the victory was a prime example of jointness among the three Services and their coordination.