Longevity of ceasefire along LoC depends on actions of Pak: Army chief

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Srinagar, Jun 3 (PTI) Army Chief General M M Naravane on Thursday said the longevity of the ceasefire along the Line of Control with Pakistan depends on the actions of the neighbouring country but asserted that there would be 'no slackening' of preparedness as terror infrastructure across the border was intact.

'The ceasefire along the LoC is holding as of now. The onus of making sure that the ceasefire holds is squarely on Pakistan. We are willing to observe the ceasefire as long as they do so,' he told a select few journalists at the end of his two-day visit to Kashmir.

The Army chief said other activities like terror infrastructure including terrorist camps and presence of terrorists on the other side of the LoC were continuing in Pakistan occupied Kashmir.

'Therefore, there can be no slackening of our level of preparedness,' he added.

Asked if Islamabad can be trusted as the ceasefire has been holding for 100 days now, Gen Naravane said, 'There have been decades of mistrust between India and Pakistan. So, the situation on that score cannot change overnight.' He said if Pakistan observes ceasefire in letter and spirit, the small steps can lead to incremental gains.

'If Pakistan continues to desist from fomenting trouble in India, then the small steps can lead to that level of trust that you are talking about,' he added.

On the possibility of troops reduction in Kashmir, he said the deployment of the troops was a dynamic process and is reviewed from time to time depending on threat perception.

'We have a counter infiltration grid to prevent terrorists from coming in and we have a counter terrorism grid in the hinterland.

'The deployment is a dynamic process. If there is improvement in the situation, some troops are pulled from active duty so that they also get rest, but they are not pulled out completely,' Gen Naravane said. He said the entire country was working to bring peace and tranquillity not only in Jammu and Kashmir but across India. He said the job of the army was to bring down violence to the level where civil administration and local security forces can play their role for ensuring the developmental the region. The Army chief said Covid was another kind of a war which the entire country is fighting. And it was the responsibility of the armed forces to help the people to overcome the pandemic, he added. 'I don't think there is any family which has not been affected by Covid. Therefore it is our responsibility to help the people. We have not left any stone unturned in this hour of need. Not only in metros we have helped local administration in other parts in setting up additional beds, repairing oxygen plants and in some cases pulled out our medical staff from less affected areas and deployed them to more high pressure areas,' he said.

He expressed satisfaction that the number of Covid cases was coming down the country and India was on its way to beating down the second wave.

'As a result of the facilities we have set up in the past month and half, we are better prepared to tackle third wave which may or may not occur.' On the situation in Kashmir, he said he was briefed by the local commanders along the LoC as well as in the hinterland that there has been improvement and fewer incidents initiated by the terrorists.

'All these are indicators of a return to a sense of normalcy and all these are indicators that Awaam (people) also want the same,' he said.

Asked if the security situation was conducive for the annual Amarnath Yatra, Gen Naravane said the army was ready for smooth conduct of the pilgrimage but a final decision on whether to hold the Yatra is to be taken by the local administration. PTI MIJ ZMN

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