Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said India missed an “golden opportunity” to resolve the Kashmir dispute during the 1971 war when “under global pressure” it released hundreds of Pakistani troops, who were in the custody of Indian Army.
At an election rally in Barmer, Modi said then Congress government signed the Shimla agreement (in 1972) “under global pressure” and released over 90,000 prisoners of war (PoWs) instead of resolving the Kashmir dispute “in lieu of the PoWs.” “Pakistan troops were in our custody. A big area of Pakistan was also captured by the Indian forces in 1971 but the Congress government lost it on table in the Shimla agreement and they were released,” he said.
“The government crumbled under global pressure and signed the Shimla agreement and the matter was closed. PoWs and the captured land were released. That was a golden opportunity to resolve the Kashmir dispute in lieu of the PoW,” he said.
Modi said India was not afraid of nuclear threats from Pakistan any more. “Otherwise, Pakistan used to give nuclear threats. What do we have? Have we kept it for ‘Diwali’ (Warna aay din nuclear button hai, ye kehte the. Hamare paas kya hai. Ye diwali ke liye rakha hai kya)”, Modi said.
Addressing another rally in Gujarat’s Patan, Modi said he had warned Pakistan of consequences if it did not return Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman.
He asserted his government’s commitment towards national security and said whether the prime minister's chair remains or not, he has decided that either he will be alive or the terrorists.
He also took a jibe at NCP leader Sharad Pawar, saying if he is unaware of his next move, then how can Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan gauge what he will do. Modi urged the people of Gujarat to help the BJP win all 26 Lok Sabha seats in his home state.
Following the air strike at Balakot terror camp in Pakistan, there was a dogfight between Indian and Pakistani fighter planes on February 27 in which the IAF wing commander was captured by the neighbouring country and released on the night of March 1.
He said after Abhinandan was caught, Opposition started seeking a reply from him. “We held a press conference and warned Pakistan that if anything happened to our pilot, you will keep telling the world what Modi did to you.”
“A senior American official said on the second day that Modi has kept 12 missiles ready and might attack and the situation will deteriorate. Pakistan announced return of the pilot, or else it was going to be a ‘qatal ki raat’,” he said.
“This was said by America, I have nothing to say about this now, I will speak about it when the time will come,” he said.
“The (PM’s) chair remains or goes, I have decided that either I remain alive or terrorists will,” he said.
He said the air strike at terror camps in Pakistan was people expected from him. “When Pulwama happened, what did the country expect Modi to do? Would you, would the country have pardoned me had I done what the Manmohan Singh government did after 26/11,” he asked.
Hitting out at the opposition parties, he said the Balakot strike made them uncomfortable. “Pakistan was repeatedly saying India bombed us, but people here were questioning if this was India's Balakot. They were proved false,” he said.
He also attacked the Congress for not providing new howitzers to the Army since 1985 and said his government has arranged for artillery manufacturing at three factories in the country, one being at Hazira in Gujarat which manufactures K-9 Vajra Howitzer. "Our Army will now get new howitzers regularly. We have made a howitzer that can strike Pakistan 48 km from Nadabet (in Gujarat bordering Pakistan)," he said.
Slamming the Congress, he said that since 1985, it did not care about securing Gujarat, a state bordering Pakistan, which needs Air Force, Army and Navy bases.
"A big air force station is taking shape near Deesa which will ensure safety of the entire state," he said, adding the factory at UP's Amethi will manufacture AK-47 assault rifles for the military and also export them.
"We are moving ahead with the promise to make India strong across land, water, air and space," Modi said, adding that the country was now capable of destroying a satellite.
"They (opposition) had problem with this also, saying the Model Code of Conduct was in force. Is there a code of conduct in such things? We are people who follow rules, but national security is a very important matter, and what India did made it the fourth superpower in the world.