Pakistan will have to dismantle terror infrastructure for normalisation of ties: Army chief | India News

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NEW DELHI: The renewed ceasefire in February has led to a major improvement in the security situation along the Line of Control but Pakistan will have to take ‘tangible action’ against the terror infrastructure operating from its soil for an upward trajectory in bilateral ties, Army chief general M M Naravane has said.
“The ceasefire is just the first step in the long road to normalisation of bilateral relations with Pakistan. From our side, we would like the ceasefire to continue and lead to an improvement in bilateral relations,” said Gen Naravane, speaking exclusively to TOI.
Pakistan, however, will have to address India’s core concerns by discarding its long-standing policy of fueling the cross-border proxy war and dismantling the 18-20 terror-training camps operating on its territory and PoJK.
With the ceasefire in force along the 778-km LoC and the 198-km international border, there has been a drastic decline in the number of infiltration attempts in the last three months. But there are still an estimated 220 terrorists, including 80-90 `foreign’ ones, present in J&K.
“We do not have any reason to believe the terror infrastructure in Pakistan and PoJK has been dismantled. JeM, LeT, Al Badr and other terrorist organisations still operate from PoJK. They remain a threat. The United Jihad Council also continues to be operational,” said Gen Naravane.
“Terrorism and extremism are the biggest challenges in South Asia. Once Pakistan takes tangible actions against these and there is a fundamental shift in its policy, the relations may improve,” he added.
There has been no exchange of cross-border firing, except for a stray incident between the BSF and Pakistan Rangers in the Jammu sector, after the rival DGMOs renewed the ceasefire agreement from February 25 onwards.
The fresh truce came after a particularly violent last year, with incessant artillery and mortar duels shattering all annual records since 2003. India recorded as many as 5,133 ceasefire violations in 2020, with another 591 this year before the ceasefire pact.
“Peace along the LoC is mutually beneficial. The civilian populations living on either side bear the brunt and suffer heavily due to the violence along the LoC. The ceasefire has greatly benefitted them. I am sure Pakistan Army is also concerned about its population and hopefully the ceasefire will hold,” said Gen Naravane.
The Army chief, however, warned adherence to the ceasefire does not mean the counter-infiltration and counter-terrorism (CI/CT) grids will be weakened. “Our fight against terrorism has not come to a halt. Our alertness and vigil will not be lowered,” he said.
“We will continue to undertake strong CI/CT operations. All options remain open to mitigate the threat as deemed fit by the commanders on ground. We will continue to monitor the situation and will maintain readiness to respond to any misadventure,” he added.



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