Welcoming the return of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman to India after being released by Pakistan, Azad said, "Peace talks cannot be held this time but appropriate steps need to be taken to avoid war between India and Pakistan."
Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad Saturday said parties need to rise above their political interests and work unitedly to eliminate the menace of terrorism which has “swallowed a generation of youth” in the Kashmir Valley. He said peace talks between India and Pakistan cannot be held now in view of the heightened tension between the two neighbours, although nobody is in favour of war as “our government has made it clear that the IAF strike inside Pakistan was not aimed at the country, its civilians or military installations but at terrorist camps.”
“Our stand from day one is that the Congress is against terrorism and want its elimination. We will support whatever steps our security forces will take in this direction,” the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha told reporters here.
Welcoming the return of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman to India after being released by Pakistan, Azad said, “Peace talks cannot be held this time but appropriate steps need to be taken to avoid war between India and Pakistan.” “Nobody is in favour of war… We (India) are not in favour of war which was evident from the briefing of the foreign minister and home minister to the opposition parties. Our (IAF) strike was not against Pakistan, its people or military installation, but was aimed at terrorist camps. It is the responsibility of the world to see that the fight is restricted to the elimination of terrorism alone.”
“Jammu and Kashmir is the worst sufferer of terrorism. A generation of our youth in the valley was finished by terrorism. If the menace is addressed, it will bring happiness to the state and the country,” the former chief minister of the state said. He said terrorism not only caused loss of life in the state but also pushed it backward, both economically and educationally, compared to other parts of the country.
Azad congratulated the security forces, state police and the people for their relentless efforts to end terrorism and said, “I am hopeful that the people and security forces will overcome terrorism and restore peace in the region which will help in revival of economy, tourism and open new vistas for our youth.”
Asserting that the Army does not belong to a particular party, like the entire country cannot belong to a single party, he said, “The nation belongs to every one and the credit for the good work of the Army goes to the nation.” Alleging that a particular party was trying to take credit for the actions of the armed forces, the Congress leader said, “They should avoid dividing the nation and the Army.”
Azad said there are many issues for which the BJP-led NDA government at the centre can be criticised, but “today, Congress is of the opinion that in the prevailing situation and tension on the borders, we should forget political differences and stand united”. “We are expecting the same from the ruling party,” he said. He, however, said the Congress cancelled all its programmes, function and even meetings in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack on February 14 in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed, unlike the BJP which “did not cancel even a single function or public meeting”.
“The Congress and other parties respect the martyrs and stand with the security forces and we expect the ruling party to follow suit and did not indulge in politics over the sacrifices of the jawans,” he said. Azad appealed to people of Kashmir and Jammu divisions to stand united and avoid any type of tension in the present crisis.
“The tension on the border is more compared to past several years which also witnessed manifold increase in the ceasefire violations and casualties. We need to restrict tension on the borders and not allow it to have any impact in the hinterland,” he said. “Both Jammu and and Kashmir divisions are interdependent. The goods transported to Kashmir goes through Jammu while Jammu’s economy is dependent on Kashmir. The functioning of government for six months each in the twin capitals, introduced by Maharaja (over a century ago) was a befitting move to cater to the needs of the people,” Azad said. He said people of both the regions should fight terrorism together as hatred against each other is neither good for Jammu nor for Kashmir.
Expressing concern over the intense shelling from across the Line of Control (LoC) in the twin districts of Poonch and Rajouri which left four people dead in the past few days and forced migration of many, Azad said, “Our party delegation is visiting the shelling-hit border villages to express solidarity with the people, lend support to them and also assess the damage.”