JAMMU, June 26: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said today the Centre was ready to talk whoever is willing to talk but added that before holding talks with Pakistan the neighbouring country should first address the problem of terrorism emanating from its soil. He said if Pakistan is unable to stop terrorism in its country, then it should seek India’s cooperation.
“We have said that we will talk to whoever is willing to talk to us. We will even talk to Pakistan if it wants to talk to us. But Pakistan should first address the problem of terrorism emanating from it soil. I have been saying that if Pakistan is really serious in its fight against terror and acknowledge that it is unable to stop it, then it should seek India’s cooperation. We are neighbouring countries and we can do it together,” Rajnath said in an interview with The Week magazine.
Describing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Kashmir policy as correct, the Home Minister said: “there is no doubt about it. It will take time. The problem was not born today or yesterday”.
To a question on whether PDP-BJP alliance was a mistake, he said the BJP did its best and tried to do everything to bring peace and development to the Valley. On whether he missed former Chief Minister late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, he said: “we shouldn’t draw comparisons. Mehbooba also tried but it can be a matter of assessment of how successful she had been”.
Asserting that Kashmir problem is very old one and has been a major challenge for all Governments, Rajnath described Pakistan-sponsored terrorism as a major factor.
On talks with Pakistan or whether Pakistan was talking with the Kashmir separatists, Rajnath denied that Pakistan is talking to separatists He said he can’t disclose much on the options the Centre have but added that “if Pakistan wants to talk to us, they should say it upfront. A few days ago Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs) of both countries held talks. There was a let up in ceasefire violations for a brief period, but they began again”.
On whether India should hold talks with the Pakistan army, he remarked: “Pakistan should decide on who would represent it. He, however, admitted that National Security Advisors of India and Pakistan have been meeting. “Yes, that channel is always there and those talks keep happening. There are phone calls made from both sides. But both sides should honestly honour whatever is decided”.
To a question whether month long Ramzan ceasefire in Kashmir was a mistake, Rajnath said: “it is not true that big attacks haven’t happened on Eid in the past. I don’t think that the ceasefire was a mistake, It was a decision that was taken keeping in mind those people in Kashmir, who wanted peace and celebrate pious month of Ramzan in true spirit.
“We are a democracy. So, we have to take certain decisions for the people, keeping their sentiments in mind. During Ramzan, security forces exercised maximum restraint but they were never stopped for neutralizing the terrorists, who infiltrate from the neighbouring country. We didn’t call it ceasefire but `suspension of operations’ for a month”.
Rajnath described as “well thought out decision” to send Dineshwar Sharma to Jammu and Kashmir as Centre’s Special Representatives.
“Dineshwar being the senior-most IPS officer, had wide administrative experience. He is also mature and competent. He has looked after Kashmir affairs at the Intelligence Bureau. He has spoken to lot of people in the interiors,” he said.
Asked whether Jammu and Kashmir Government had mishandled Kathua rape case, the Union Home Minister said the investigations have been completed and the matter is in court. “It is already under the supervision of the Supreme Court and we should wait for the judgment. The victims should get justice and we are committed to it,” he added.