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Times have changed, warns Modi


.— AP file photo
.— AP file photo

NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi cautioned Pakistan on Thursday that times had changed and ceasefire violations that New Delhi accuses Islamabad of carrying out across the Line of Control and adjoining international border in Jammu and Kashmir, would not be tolerated, reports said.

“Today, when bullets are being fired on the border, it is the enemy that is screaming,” Mr Modi told an election rally in Maharashtra where state polls are scheduled to be held on Oct 15.

“The enemy has realised that times have changed and their old habits will not be tolerated,” Mr Modi was quoted as saying.

The Indian Express said the remarks were in response to political opponents who have charged the prime minister with not speaking directly about this week’s clashes — the worst in a decade.

Mr Modi took a different view. “When there is a challenge at the border, it is soldiers who answer with fingers on the trigger; it is not for politicians to respond.”

The comments also came a day after Mr Modi raised hopes for an early end to the flare-up when he said: “Everything will be fine soon.”

Also read: Footprints: Back from the brink

Indian analysts, including a former envoy to Islamabad, blamed Pakistan for starting the heavy ordnance exchange across the border but added that the flare-up was tame compared to the relentless firing, which went on almost daily prior to their 2003 ceasefire agreement.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah differed with the government’s decision not to hold any flag meetings between the two militaries during the current upsurge. “The government says there won’t be any talks until Pakistan stops firing completely. It is precisely when the firing is on that we need to talk not when the guns go silent.”

Indian media is by and large aligned with the government narrative as usually happens in similar situations elsewhere.

Local reports said that overnight Indian forces retaliated to Pakistan’s gunfire and mortar bombs on about 50 border security posts. There was intermittent fire on Thursday.

Defence Minister Arun Jaitley reinforced the narrative. “If Pakistan persists with this adventurism, our forces will make cost of this adventurism unaffordable for it,” he was quoted as saying.

Indian theorists are many, and one such posited that Pakistan’s aggression based on the need to shift attention from its politically volatile landscape — Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has confronted huge opposition protests. Others believed Mr Sharif was too powerless to have any say.

Some Indians also believes that Pakistan wants to use the attacks to help militants infiltrate Kashmir.

Meanwhile, Mr Jaitley was quoted as ruling out talks with Pakistan and he praised Indian forces for a “commendable” job in the “face of these unprovoked acts of aggression”.

Mr Modi apparently joined Mr Jaitley in congratulating Indian forces for “responding to aggression with courage”.

Published in Dawn, October 10th, 2014