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India will respond with 'precision' to acts of terror: Army Chief warns Pakistan

New Delhi: In a stern warning to Pakistan, Army Chief Gen MM Naravane said India will respond appropriately and with "precision" to any acts of cross-border misadventure unless Islamabad gives up its policy of state-sponsored terrorism and coercing people in Kashmir to follow its "Azadi narrative".

In an exclusive interview to PTI, the chief of the 1.3 million-strong Army said Pakistan is still following a "myopic" and "limited" agenda of pushing terrorists into Kashmir and called the country a "global risk" to peace and stability.

Referring to the Handwara encounter, Gen. Naravane said India is proud of Col Ashutosh Sharma, the Commanding Officer of 21 Rashtriya Rifles battalion, and four other security personnel who laid down their lives saving civilians from terrorists at a village in Handwara in north Kashmir on Saturday night.

"I would like to emphasise that Indian Army will give proportionate response to all acts of infringement of ceasefire and its (Pakistan's) support to terrorism. The onus remains with Pakistan to bring peace in the region," the Chief of Army Staff said.

"Unless Pakistan gives up its policy of state sponsored terrorism, we will continue to respond appropriately and with precision," he added. After the Pulwama attack, India effected a doctrinal shift in its counter-terror policy by bombing a Jaish-e-Mohammad facility deep inside Pakistan.

Gen Naravane said the recent infiltration attempts by Pakistan along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir showed that Pakistan is not interested in battling the coronavirus pandemic and is still following its "own myopic and limited agenda of pushing terrorists inside India."

"Even in the hinterland, Pakistan backed terrorists are resorting to targeting innocent civilians with an aim to coerce them into following their Azadi narrative. Pakistan claims to be a friend of Kashmiris; I want to ask what sort of friend resorts to killing and spreads terror," he asked.

There have been frequent incidents of ceasefire violation by Pakistani side since India announced its decision to withdraw special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcate the state into two Union Territories in August last year.

On implementation of recommendations of anti-terror watchdog FATF by Pakistan, Gen Naravane said the country has sought to "blindside" the international community by making superficial changes and amendments to its "non-existent" checks on terror financing and money laundering.

"It still continues to employ proxies to inflict terror and violence not only inside India but also in Afghanistan where it supports the Taliban militarily and financially," he said.

"The sudden spurts in violence against Afghan security forces are indicative of the illegal and illicit drug and money laundering networks that fuel the conflict," Gen Naravane added.

He also referred to Pakistan removing names of "hardcore terrorists from the terror watch list", saying it proves that Islamabad still believes in exporting terrorism as an instrument of state policy.

"The low priority given to the Pakistani citizens by its own government and the army is apparent by the exponential rise in cases and massive shortages of medical equipment and supplies in Pakistan," he said.

Gen Naravane said even during an India-initiated SAARC video conference, Pakistan's "narrow-mindedness" was on full display when it used the platform to complain about "non-existent" violations of human rights in Kashmir instead of finding ways to keep its citizens safe from the pandemic.

"The increased intensity of ceasefire violations by the Pakistan army, where its targets innocent civilians on the LoC, just shows that the country is a global risk and is not interested in providing relief to its own citizens," he said.

The Army Chief also said that Pakistan has been trying to mislead the international community on the situation in Kashmir. "It is unfortunate that while the world has got together to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, Pakistan has resorted to firing heavy calibre artillery and killing of innocent Kashmiris to garner international attention," he said.

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