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Chidambaram asks PM Modi to take steps to de-escalate tensions with Pakistan

NEW DELHI: Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram Friday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take steps to de-escalate tensions with Pakistan and diffuse the crisis situation in the Kashmir Valley while trying to win hearts and minds of the people.

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Speaking at the India Today conclave here, he said Modi and BJP leaders and ministers should not try to take credit for the act of the Indian Air Force, which the opposition and the country have lauded.

“Going forward, Mr Modi either by his inner counsel or by consulting the opposition parties, adopt a strategy that will diffuse tensions with Pakistan and bring some kind of reassurance to the people of the Kashmir valley. These are two separate objectives that have to be addressed,” he said.

“Calm the people of the Kashmir valley and reassure them that their interests will be protected,” he said.

The former Union minister said the Congress was among the first to congratulate the IAF for the air strikes and after that it and other parties behaved in an exemplary manner.

“We did not go out and hold rallies, public meeting and address party workers, and in fact we cancelled the CWC and other meetings scheduled yesterday.

“On the other hand, we have not only the prime minister, we have the party president, home minister and other ministers fanning out all over the country addressing purely political meetings, party workers and booth workers meetings and claiming credit for what the IAF did.

“The IAF does not belong to the BJP, the IAF belongs to the country. So if the IAF did a good job, the whole country is proud, why should one political party while appealing to all other parties to observe restraint, try to exploit to the situation and try to gain political advantage,” he asked.

Chidambaram said when the prime minister is live on television channels, “I don’t think it is right for the leader of a political party which is the ruling party, to claim credit for what the IAF did. That is politicisation.”

He said that was not the occasion for claiming credit for which the Air Force did and suggested that he should have convened a joint session of Parliament and made a speech there and the opposition also would have joined in to praise the Indian Air Force.

The Congress leader said “only time will tell, whether it is a right move or not so right move.”

“But I sincerely hope that this move will not push India into one direction, namely the solution to the K issue is through a war or a limited war.”

On questions being raised by the opposition about extensive damage in the Indian Air Force strikes, he said while the IAF adopted restraint in its statement, the External Affairs Ministry said there were no civilian or military casualties in the operation.

But, it is the political party behind the government which claimed heavy casualties of militants, he said.

“I am prepared to believe my government. But over the last few days international media have made contrary claims.”

“I am prepared the world cannot be asked to suspend disbelief. If somebody is perhaps raised questions, that is perhaps Mamata Banerjee has referred to,” he said.

About criticism of the previous UPA government by some that it did not allow such action after the 26/11 terror attacks, he said a former general has said that and it is not true.

“26.11. 2008 was clearly a terror attack, origins of which was clearly Pakistan. After that till May 2014, there was no terror attack in India which had its origins in Pakistan. We have had three such attacks during this government that took place in Pathankot, Uri and Pulwama, that were linked to Pakistan.”

“This time, when aircraft have moved into Pakistan and bombed a site in Pakistan, which I think is a bold move. We have praised the IAF. We are not taking away the credit from the Indian Air Force,” he said.

Courtesy The Indian Express

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