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Forget Kashmir, fight terrorism or you will disintegrate: Rajnath warns Pakistan

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: October 13, 2019  | 23:31 IST

(Eds: Adds quotes) Karnal/Pataudi (Hry), Oct 13 (PTI) Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday told Pakistan to forget Kashmir and instead fight an "honest battle" against terrorism, warning that no power can stop its disintegration if it continued with its rant and did not mend its ways. He said India was ready to assist Pakistan in the fight against terrorism if it cannot do so on its own, but added that Islamabad's intentions were deceitful. Addressing poll rallies in Haryana's Pataudi and Chief Minister M L Khattar's home district Karnal, Singh also slammed the Congress for criticising him on doing "shastra puja" of the Rafale jet on Dussehra, saying the remarks by the opposition party emboldened Pakistan. He asked why Congress was objecting to "Om" being written on the aircraft. Singh hit out at Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan for saying he will continue to raise Kashmir issue on international forums, despite India warning that it was its internal matter. "Forget it. Don't even think about Kashmir. You have paid the price. In 1947, you divided India into two because of two-nation theory.... In 1971, Pakistan got divided into two," he said. "Pakistan should stop its Kashmir rant. Kashmir was, is and will be integral part of India and no power in the world can separate it from us," he said. "I want to suggest Pakistan: bring a change in thinking or else if you keep going on like this, no power in this world can stop Pakistan from disintegrating," he warned. Asking Pakistan to wage an "honest battle" against terrorism, instead of using it to weaken and break India, the defence minister said if Islamabad was finding it difficult to tackle the menace, India was ready to help its neighbour. "We will extend cooperation to them to fight terrorism. But Pakistan's intentions are deceitful," Singh said. His statements come amid tensions between India and Pakistan following the abrogation of the special status of Kashmir under Article 370 in August. Singh said Pakistan's situation is deteriorating and their economy is in bad shape, but to divert its people's attention, Islamabad was encouraging terror activities. "Pakistan is our neighbour. (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee ji used to say a neighbour is a neighbour. Friends change in one's life but neighbour does not. And, therefore, relations with neighbours should be maintained. He went with a message of peace and friendship to Lahore, but what did we get in return — Kargir War (in 1999)," Singh said. Referring to India getting the Rafale jets from France, he said, "We don't have to enter their (Pakistan's) territory to wipe out terrorists, now sitting here in India we can do 'Jai Shri Ram'.” But, he reiterated, the fighters were meant only for self-defence and not for aggression. At another poll rally in Karnal, Singh defended performing 'shastra puja' on Rafale aircraft. "I wrote 'Om' on it, broke a coconut (as per tradition), tied a 'raksha bandhan' around the plane. But Congress raked up a controversy, saying we have become communal. They have objection to even 'Om'," Singh said. "Is 'Om' not written in your homes? Sikh brethren sitting here, I want to ask do they not chant Ek Onkar," the senior BJP leader said. "Do our Christians not say Amen, do our Muslim brothers not say Amen... Questions are being raised on this. When I was performing 'puja', there were people of various faiths present there, including Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Sikhs. All of them were cooperating,” he said. He said rather than welcoming it, Congress started criticising the 'shastra puja'. "They keep saying (things) without paying heed to what they say. And if anyone gets emboldened with their statements, it is Pakistan. That is why I say they should be taught a befitting lesson in these assembly polls, like you did in Lok Sabha elections," he told the rally organised in the run up to the assembly polls on October 21. Singh's Rafale defence come as Congress leader Rahul Gandhi questioned the 'purpose' of his "unprecedented" visit to France, saying BJP leaders are bearing "guilt" in their minds for making "mistakes" in the controversial deal. Addressing a poll rally in Mumbai, Gandhi said, "It seems the Rafale deal is still hurting the BJP..." The Congress and the BJP have been engaged in a war of words over Singh's France visit to receive the first Rafale fighter jet and performing shastra puja on the aircraft, with the opposition party leaders slamming it as a "drama”. At a ceremony in France on Tuesday, Singh formally took the delivery of the first of the 36 long-awaited French-made aircraft acquired by the Indian Air Force. He also took a sortie in the two-seater jet. The Opposition party accused the BJP of politicising a defence acquisition. Singh also praised Chief Minister Khattar and said he comes from a humble background. "In other parties, the son of king takes the throne, but people with ordinary background can occupy high offices in BJP," he said. PTI SUN VSD ABH RT ABH ABH

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