Defence Minister Rajnath Singh delivered a strong message to Pakistan while addressing a rally in Leh on Thursday. Speaking about Kashmir being an integral part of India, he said “I want to ask Pakistan when had Kashmir belonged to it. Kashmir was always part of India.” Rajnath Singh made the statement when he was attending the 26th Kisan-Jawan Vigyan Mela in Ladakh.
The Union Minister stated that Pakistan has no locus standi on Kashmir. He was quoted saying “India wants to have a good neighbourly relationship with Pakistan, but it should first stop exporting terror to India.” He suggested that Pakistan should focus on addressing human rights violations and atrocities in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) instead. The Defence Minister declared that in a telephonic conversation with the US Defense Secretary, Rajnath Singh told him that abrogation of provisions of Article 370 was an internal matter of India and that no other country supports Pakistan on the issue currently.
Rajnath Singh supporting the government’s decision to scrap Article 370, stated “abrogating Article 370 was our commitment. It is not an arbitrary decision. We have not fooled the people of the country. This has been our commitment from our Jan Sangh days. And the people of Jammu and Kashmir, along with Ladakh are happy with this.”
Rajnath Singh arrived in Leh on Thursday. This was his first visit to Ladakh since the revocation of Article 370. The government had passed a resolution that bifurcates Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh into two Union Territories. Rajnath Singh is scheduled to hold meetings with the people of Leh, and military officials deployed in the area, his aids confirmed. Rajnath Singh’s comments come at a time when relations between the two neighbours have worsened over India’s decision to scrap Article 370 of the Indian Constitution which ended the special status of the former state of Jammu & Kashmir.
On August 5, the central government revoked Article 370 of the Constitution which granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir. Additionally, the states were bifurcated into two Union Territories - Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. In the aftermath of these events, Pakistan has taken various steps to internationalize the issue but it has failed to garner support on the world stage.