NEW DELHI: A day after stirring the pot with comments resembling the US president’s “my nuclear button bigger than yours” claim, Indian Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat appeared to row back on Sunday by giving space to political initiatives to bring peace to India-held Kashmir.

Political initiative must go “hand-in-hand” with military operations to bring peace to Jammu and Kashmir, Gen Rawat was quoted by the Press Trust of India as saying.

Quoting from an interview, PTI said the army chief favoured ramping up military offensive to pile up the heat on Pakistan to stop alleged “cross-border terrorism” in the disputed Himalayan region.

Gen Rawat said the armed forces operating in the region could not be “status quoist” and must evolve new strategies and tactics to deal with the situation, which he felt was “marginally” better since he took over a year ago.

Indicates that New Delhi will continue its military policy

Asked whether there was room for ramping up pressure on Pakistan, he said: “Yes, you cannot be status quoist. You have to continuously think and keep moving forward. You have to keep changing your doctrines and concept and the manner in which you operate in such areas.”

The news agency saw Gen Rawat’s statement as indicating clearly that the army would “continue its policy of hot pursuit in dealing with militancy”.

“The political initiative and all the other initiatives must go simultaneously hand-in-hand and only if all of us function in synergy, can we bring lasting peace in Kashmir. It has to be a politico-military approach that we have to adopt,” he said.

In October, the government appointed former Intelligence Bureau chief Dineshwar Sharma as its special representative for a “sustained dialogue” with all stakeholders in Kashmir.

“When the government appointed an interlocutor, it is with that purpose. He is the government’s representative to reach out to the people of Kashmir and see what their grievances are so that those can then be addressed at a political level,” the army chief said.

Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2018