Our nuke arsenal is not for Diwali: Modi at rally

Updated on Apr 22, 2019 01:39 AM IST

“Every other day they [Pakistan] used to say, ‘We’ve nuclear button, we’ve nuclear button’...What do we have then? Have we kept it for Diwali?” Modi told a gathering in Barmer.

(REUTERSHe said the then Congress government signed the Shimla agreement (in 1972) “under global pressure” and released over 90,000 prisoners of war (PoW) instead of resolving the Kashmir dispute.)
(REUTERSHe said the then Congress government signed the Shimla agreement (in 1972) “under global pressure” and released over 90,000 prisoners of war (PoW) instead of resolving the Kashmir dispute.)
Ahmedabad/Jaipur | ByHT Correspondents

India is not afraid of Pakistan nuclear weapons any more, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in Rajasthan on Sunday, adding Islamabad must remember that New Delhi’s nuclear arsenal is not for Diwali fireworks.

Continuing with his narrative on national security, Modi also said that, in February, India warned Pakistan of serious consequences if it harmed Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who was captured after an aerial dogfight between fighter jets of the two nations.

“Every other day they [Pakistan] used to say, ‘We’ve nuclear button, we’ve nuclear button’...What do we have then? Have we kept it for Diwali?” Modi told a gathering in Barmer.

Modi added that India missed a “golden opportunity” during the 1971 war to resolve the Kashmir dispute by releasing hundreds of Pakistani troops from the Indian Army’s custody.

He said the then Congress government signed the Shimla agreement (in 1972) “under global pressure” and released over 90,000 prisoners of war (PoW) instead of resolving the Kashmir dispute.

“Pak troops were in our custody. A big area of Pakistan was also captured by Indian forces during the 1971 war but the Congress government lost it on the table in Shimla agreement and they were released,” he said.

The PM added that it was a trump card in the government’s hand, but the chance was lost.

In Gujarat’s Patan, where he brought up Varthaman, Modi said an official of the United States had remarked that New Delhi was prepared to launch 12 missiles as tensions escalated following the February 26 air strike on a terror camp deep inside Pakistan.

“While some people were busy preparing for candle light march [after Varthaman’s capture], we said, ‘Beware Pakistan. If our pilot suffers even a bruise [in your custody], then don’t tell the world later what Modi did,” Modi said in his home state where voting in all 26 Lok Sabha seats will take place on Tuesday.

“You all must be aware that the US had said India was planning something big. A senior American official said on the second day that Modi has kept 12 missiles ready and might attack and the situation will deteriorate. Pakistan announced the return of the pilot or else it was going to be a ‘qatal ki raat [night of bloodshed]’. This is America’s version. I will talk about this when I have to,” he said.

Gujarat Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi said, “To say our pilot was back because of him is so far the biggest of the series of lies the PM has told India. There is...a system under which Pakistan had to release Abhinandan. By making such a false statement, the PM is trying to undermining the system and fabric of India in front of the public.”

The Balakot operation was India’s response to the February 14 bombing of a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama. The attack, which killed 40 security personnel, was claimed by the Jaish-e-Mohammed. Issues pertaining to national security have figured prominently in India’s election narrative in the wake of Pulwama and Balakot incidents, with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stressing that it had zero-tolerance to terrorism and the Opposition asking for the proof of casualties in the air strike.In Gujarat, Modi stressed his government’s tough stand on terrorism, and said, “Whether this chair [of the Prime Minister] stays or not, either I will survive or terrorism.”

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