New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day speech Thursday dwelt on this year’s Easter day bombings in Sri Lanka as he sought to highlight the threat of terrorism to the entire South Asian neighbourhood.
The scourge of terrorism, he said, had impacted not just India, but also its friendly neighbours Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.
The Easter day bombings in Sri Lanka on 21 April, which killed over 250 people, were evidence why all these countries should fight terrorism together, he added.
In a sharp taunt at Pakistan, he said his government had taken a firm stance against the countries that spread terrorism.
“We have already acted on our promise to eliminate the menace of terrorism and we remain firm on that stance,” Modi added.
The PM’s remarks come at a time when tensions are soaring between India and Pakistan over the Modi government’s decision to scrap Article 370 and Article 35A and bifurcate Jammu & Kashmir into two union territories — J&k and Ladakh.
To protest against the move, Pakistan downgraded diplomatic ties with India last week and suspended bilateral trade.
High-level engagement between India and Pakistan remains elusive owing to New Delhi’s firm stance that talks are impossible until Islamabad reins in the terrorism perpetrated from its soil.
The Modi government has carried out two surgical strikes in Pakistan to root out terrorists, both in the immediate aftermath of terrorist attacks: The 2016 attack on an Army camp in Uri, and the Pulwama attack on a CRPF convoy this February.
An independence day wish for ally
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister also wished ally Afghanistan on its upcoming independence day, 19 August.
Afghanistan will be celebrating its 100th Independence Day this year: 19 August 1919 was the day Afghanistan gained freedom from the British under the Anglo-Afghan Treaty of 1919. Although Afghanistan was never part of the British empire, Britain fought three wars in that country. The treaty granted completely neutral relations between Afghanistan and Britain.
Long a victim of terrorism, Kabul finds itself at a point of grave uncertainty as it has been left out of peace talks being held between the US and the Taliban with Pakistan’s help.
The Trump administration in the US wishes to pull out American troops from the country, stoking fears that the Taliban might return to power and once again subject citizens to its repressive diktats.