Srinagar, Aug. 12: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said Pakistan had lost the strength to fight a conventional war and was sending militants to kill civilians in a running “proxy” battle, in his first direct attack on the neighbour since assuming power.
The taunt, at a gathering of army and air force personnel in Leh, came as militants shot and injured eight BSF men in an attack on a convoy last night and killed a railway police head constable hours after the BJP leader had wrapped up his visit to the state.
Modi, who was in Leh and Kargil to inaugurate two power projects, did not mention the attack on the convoy but ripped into Pakistan for waging what he called a proxy war against India.
“It is our bad luck that our neighbour has developed this mentality. It has lost the strength to fight a conventional war but it continues to kill innocent civilians through a proxy war. So many innocents have been killed,” he told the army and air force troopers at Leh.
“Indian armed forces are suffering more casualties from terrorism than war.”
In his first visit to Jammu and Kashmir as Prime Minister last month, Modi had steered clear of contentious issues like militancy.
The proxy war, he said, was not a problem specific to India but the whole world. “All humanitarian forces of the world should unite to fight it. India is committed to strengthening and uniting these humanitarian forces,” Modi said.
The sharp attack, close on the heels of Delhi’s mounting concerns over repeated ceasefire violations by Pakistan, came more than two months after Modi took charge following his party’s landslide in the summer elections.
Modi, who had invited Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and other Saarc leaders for his May 26 swearing-in, said his government was “committed” to making India “self-reliant in defence manufacturing” and promised a National War Memorial to inspire future generations.
To boost the morale of the jawans, he said they should be assured that the “entire country” supports them.
In Kargil, the scene of the 1999 standoff when Pakistani troops infiltrated the border, Modi said: “The patriotism of the people of Kargil inspires the people of India. I bow to this land and to the people.”
At his rallies in Leh and Kargil, he held out hope for displaced people who he claimed accounted for 20 per cent of the state’s population.
Modi said his government would provide Rs 8,000 crore to develop four important roads and added that efforts were under way to boost production of pashmina and saffron and ensure they reached international markets.
The Prime Minister laid the foundation stone for a Rs 1,788-crore Leh-Kargil-Srinagar power transmission line at Leh and dedicated to the nation the 45MW Nimmo Bazgo hydroelectric power project on the Indus at Leh and the 44MW Chutak hydropower station in Kargil.