Recently-appointed Indian Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Manoj Mukund Naravane has said that the army would act on “getting back” Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK) “if the parliament was willing and orders to such effect were received”.
Addressing a press conference in New Delhi, the army chief was asked if the Pakistan-administered region of the disputed territory could be a part of India as stated by the political leadership. In response to the question, Naravane said that there was a parliamentary resolution stating that the “entire Kashmir was a part of India”, and hence the army would take appropriate action if it received orders to take AJK back.
“There is a parliamentary resolution that entire region is part of India. If parliament wants it, then it [AJK] also should belong to us. When we get orders to that effect, we’ll take appropriate action,” the Indian army chief said.
This is not the first time the new Indian general has indulged in provocative posturing. In an earlier statement, Naravane had said that India “reserve[d] the right to preemptively strike at sources of terror”.
He had told the Press Trust of India that India had “evolved a strategy of resolute punitive response against sponsored terrorism”.
Pakistan had rejected the statement, calling it “irresponsible”. The Foreign Office had in its statement said Pakistan was fully able to respond to any Indian aggression in AJK and that New Delhi should not forget Islamabad’s befitting response to its aggression in Balakot last year.
Meanwhile, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General (DG) Major General Asif Ghafoor has said that Pakistan’s armed forces will give an “even stronger” response than given in February 2019, if India attempts any military action across the Line of Control (LoC).
Reacting to the Indian army chief’s statement, the ISPR chief said it was a part of routine rhetoric to divert attention from domestic issues in India.
“Statements by Indian COAS to undertake military action across LOC are routine rhetoric for domestic audiences to get out of ongoing internal turmoil. Pakistan Armed Forces are fully prepared to respond to any act of Indian aggression [sic],” he tweeted.