Talks with Pakistan only on Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK): Rajnath Singh
Talks with Pakistan only on Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK): Rajnath Singh
Photo by ANI

New Delhi: Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday set the agenda for future talks with Pakistan, saying that these would be restricted to the status of Pak Occupied Kashmir.

The minister's comment came days after he said that India is not hostage to its 'No First Use' N-pledge - the pivot of its nuclear weapons policy for decades.

It was seen as a reaction to Pakistan's move to externalise and raise the government's decision on Jammu and Kashmir in various international forums.

"If talks are held with Pakistan, these will now be on PoK," Rajnath said in a public address after flagging off of the BJP’s 'Jan Ashirwad Yatra' here, some 20 km from Chandigarh.

The Yatra, being held in the run up to Haryana's upcoming Assembly elections, will pass through the state's 90 Assembly seats and conclude with a rally in Rohtak on September 8.

This is a clear indication that the government expects its decision on Article 370 and upping of ante on PoK will translate into a huge vote surge on the ground.

Significantly, BJP's state election-in-charge and Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and his Cabinet colleagues attended the flagging off of the Yatra. 

Referring to August 5 abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution that accorded a special status to Jammu and Kashmir, Rajnath reiterated the government line that it was done for the development of the state.

"Our neighbour is knocking on the doors of the international community saying India made a mistake. Talks with Pakistan will be held only if it stops supporting terror," the Home said.

He recounted that a few days ago Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan told his country that India was planning to take action bigger than Balakot. "So, the Pakistan PM does acknowledge what India did in Balakot," he said.

On a validation of the promises made in their election manifesto, Singh said, "Our Prime Minister keeps telling us to remain committed to the promises made in the manifesto.

'Pran jaye par vachan na jaye'. We do not go back on what we had promised. We scrapped provisions of Article 370 and 35-A in Kashmir’s interests, keeping in view the future of its youth…," he said.

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