SRINAGAR – India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused Pakistan on Tuesday of waging ‘proxy war’ by sending militants to attack India and used a trip to the Indian-held Kashmir to stress that reconciliation between the two neighbours needs peace.
Making his second visit since his election triumph in May to the disputed state, Modi vowed to strengthen India's armed forces. “The neighbouring country has lost the strength to fight a conventional war but continues to engage in the proxy war of terrorism,” he told officers and men from the army and air force in Leh area of Ladakh.
Modi, whose speech to troops in Leh was televised, gave no details of ‘proxy war.’ Pakistan has said in the past it gives only political support to the people of Kashmir who it says face human rights abuses at the hands of Indian troops.
In a second speaking stop, Modi went to Kargil, the scene of an undeclared war in 1999 between Pakistan and India. “The patriotism of the people of Kargil inspires the people of India. I bow to this land and to the people,” Modi said, paying homage to his political mentor Atal Bihari Vajpayee who was premier during the Kargil conflict.
Prime Minister Modi flew into Leh from Delhi where he met officers and men from the army and air force and addressed a rally in the town before leaving for Kargil. He also inaugurated power projects in Ladakh, beset by power supply problems. He promised to build new roads, develop tourism in the region and promised jobs for the youth.
“We want to make jobs available for the youth. We want educational institutions for the youth... The government is committed to developing tourism in this region." BBC reported that a lot was being read into the visit because regional elections in the state are due later this year and also because Modi is the first Indian prime minister to visit Kargil since the 1999 conflict.