Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his third Independence Day speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort marked the first instance for a Prime Minister to talk about the situation in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), Gilgit and Balochistan and said people from there have thanked him for raising their issues.
In his address, the Prime Minister also hit out at Pakistan for ‘glorifying’ terrorists and wondered what kind of a country it was that drew inspiration from terror, an apparent reference to the eulogising of slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.
Referring to Peshawar school attack in which more than 140 people, most of them children, were killed, the Prime Minister said India's Parliament and the country's schools and children had felt the pain as the country has strong foundation of humanity.
“But look at the other side where terrorism is being glorified. Where killing of innocents by terrorists is celebrated. What kind of terrorism-inspired life is it? What kind of government is which is inspired by terrorism? The world will need to understand the double standards," Modi said.
His comments came against the backdrop of Pakistan declaring Wani a ‘martyr’ and organising programmes in his memory.
The Prime Minister asserted that India will not yield to terrorism and violence and asked youths to return to the mainstream by shunning the path of violence, comments which are seen as a message to youth of Kashmir.
The Prime Minister presented ‘two pictures’ before the world about the difference between ‘the people who are brought up on the basis of humanity and those inspired by terrorism’, appealing the world to ‘weigh it on a balance’.
“Terrorists killed innocent children in a school in Peshawar. Blood of innocent kids was spilled by terrorists. A temple of learning was bloodied. There were tears in the eyes of India's parliamentarians. Every school in India was crying. Every child in India was feeling the pain of kids of Peshawar. Tears did not dry up from their eyes. The child victims of terrorism in Peshawar gave us pain. It is reflective of inspiration derived from our culture. This is our humanity. But look at the other side," Modi said while hitting out at Pakistan, without naming it, for eulogising terrorists.
At the same time, he again raked up PoK and Baluchistan issues.
“From the ramparts of the Red Fort, I want to express my gratitude to some people -- the people of Baluchistan, Gilgit and Pak-occupied-Kashmir -- for the way they whole-heartedly thanked me, the way they expressed gratitude to me, the way they conveyed their goodwill to me recently. People in distant land, which I have not even seen, people that I have not met...when those people thank the Indian Prime Minister, greet him, it is an honour for the 125 crore people of the country,” he said.
“And that is why, Today I want to thank the people of Baluchistan, Gilgit and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir whole-heartedly," he added.
Chairing an all-party meeting on Kashmir on Friday last, Modi had said the time had come to expose the atrocities committed ‘by our neighbouring nation’ in Balochistan and the areas of Jammu and Kashmir under its illegal occupation.
The Prime Minister said though the "mother earth has been stained with blood", those taking the path of terrorism have not achieved anything.
"I want to tell the youth that the country will never tolerate violence, this country will never tolerate terrorism... come back and look at the dreams of your parents. Come to mainstream and live a life of peace and happiness," he said.
Yesterday, Pakistan raised the Kashmir issue while celebrating its 70th Independence Day, with President Mamnoon Hussain saying the country will continue to support Kashmiris in their bid for the right to self-determination.
In Indi, its envoy Abdul Basit dedicated his country’s Independence Day this year to Kashmir, and urged Pakistan to continue the ‘fight’ till the Valley ‘attains freedom’.
Basit, speaking in Delhi, said the sacrifice of the Kashmiris won’t go in vain and the struggle will continue till Kashmir gets its freedom.
PM Modi invites SAARC nations to fight poverty together
Talking about foreign policy, Modi said he had invited leaders of SAARC countries to the swearing in ceremony of his government in June 2014 to give a ‘clear message’ to improve relationship.
The Prime Minister said the countries of the region are facing a major challenge of combating poverty and all of them should join hands to deal with it.
"Come and lets fight against poverty unitedly. We are ruining ourselves by fighting among our ourselves. Fight against poverty will lead us to a path of prosperity and take us out of situation of destruction," he said, in comment seen as directed at Pakistan.
"I appeal all neighbouring countries to fight against poverty," he added.
The Prime Minister also referred to resolution of the 41-year-old boundary issue with Bangladesh.
India and Bangladesh last year had last year ratified a land boundary pact to resolve complex issue that has lingered since independence.