India reasserts claim on PoK, Pak calls it expansionist

India reasserts claim on PoK, Pakistan accuses it of pursuing expansionist agenda

Our govt has been successful in sending message that Jammu and Kashmir's development is its priority, Defence Minister said

Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. Credit: PTI Photo

Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday re-asserted India’s claim on the territory currently under illegal occupation of Pakistan, even as Imran Khan’s government in Islamabad accused New Delhi “igniting border disputes with every neighbour”.

Notwithstanding continuing stand-off along India’s disputed boundary with China and escalation of its territorial row with Nepal, Singh said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Government in New Delhi would never compromise on “national pride”. He, however, added that New Delhi was keen to resolve the stand-off along the disputed boundary between India and China through talks and so was Beijing.

“Our government has been successful in sending the message that Jammu and Kashmir's development is its priority,” the Defence Minister said.

He added that the Modi Government’s August 2019 move to strip Jammu and Kashmir of its special status and reorganizing the state into two Union Territories had paved the way for speeding up development of the region. “Our effort in the next five years will be to change its face so much that people of PoK (Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir) will feel envious. They will wish that if they were part of India, then their fate too would have changed,” he said, addressing a virtual Jana-Samvad rally of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

“Let’s wait for what happens in future. There will be demand from PoK to be freed of Pakistan's occupation and to live with India. When this happens, then Parliament’s resolution (stating that the PoK is an integral part of India) will also be fulfilled,” said the Defence Minister.

His comment came on a day Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi cited the continuing stand-off along India’s disputed boundary with China in eastern Ladakh and the escalation of its territorial row with Nepal to accuse the Modi Government in New Delhi of pursuing expansionist aspirations.

“Perhaps with necessary introspection, the current Indian government would be less focused on igniting border disputes with every neighbour, behaving like an expansionist nation, and more focused on serving the poor, downtrodden and minorities of India better,” Qureshi posted on Twitter on Sunday.

A scuffle between Indian and Chinese soldiers on May 5 on the bank of the Pangong Tso lake in eastern Ladakh led to a stand-off. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) deployed a large number of soldiers along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) – the de facto border between the two nations – and hundreds of them transgressed the line in multiple locations to enter several kilometers inside India. The Indian Army also deployed additional troops in “adequate numbers” and the build-ups by both sides escalated tension between the two nations. 

Though the talks between diplomats and senior military officials of India and China led to disengagement in the Galwan Valley area over the past few days, the more-than-five-week-long stand-off on the bank of Pangong Tso continued till the latest report came in on Sunday.

"This is also our effort to defuse the tussle between India and China through military and diplomatic level talks," the Defence Minister said. “I want to assure that we will not compromise with national pride under any circumstance. India has become strong in its national security. India is no longer a weak India. Our strength has risen. But this strength is not meant to frighten anyone. If we are increasing our strength we are doing so to secure our country,” said Singh.