India staunchly believes in peace, but not at cost of self-respect: PM Modi

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Launching an attack on Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday asserted that India believes in peace, but it won’t compromise on self-respect and sovereignty.

He said Indian soldiers will give a “befitting reply” to whosoever attempts to ruin peace and progress in India.

While India fiercely believed in peace, it would not compromise with its honour and sovereignty at any cost, he said.

Modi’s remarks came in his 48th episode of monthly radio programme ‘Mann Ki Baat’, a day after India celebrated the second anniversary of the 2016 surgical strike by the Army on terrorist hubs in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

Recalling the surgical strike as a reply to the “audacity of a proxy war under the garb of terrorism”, Modi, without naming Pakistan, said: “It has now been decided that our soldiers will give a befitting reply to whosoever makes an attempt to destroy the atmosphere of peace and progress in our nation.

“We staunchly believe in peace; we are committed to taking it forward… but not at the cost of compromising our self-respect and sovereignty.”

Modi’s attack came a day after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, speaking at the UN General Assembly, denounced Pakistan for its continued support to terrorism on Indian soil and blamed Islamabad for sabotaging the bilateral talks process.

New Delhi on September 21 called off talks by Foreign Ministers of India and Pakistan, blaming Islamabad for the killing of security personnel in Jammu and Kashmir and accusing it of glorifying terrorism.

Modi said: “India has always been resolutely committed to peace. In the two World Wars, over a lakh of our soldiers made the supreme sacrifice; that too in a war where we were not involved in any way.

“We have never eyed someone else’s territory maliciously. This in itself was our commitment and dedication towards peace.

“Even today, India is one of the largest contributors to various UN Peace Keeping forces in terms of sending personnel. For decades, our brave soldiers wearing blue helmets have played a stellar role in ensuring maintenance of world peace.”

Modi said that remembering the surgical strikes will remind “our youths about the glorious heritage and valour of our armed forces.

The Prime Minister called the Indian Air Force (IAF) one of the “mightiest and bravest” air forces and hailed its contribution both during wars and natural disasters.

“Be it the relief and rescue work or disaster management, our country is indebted to our Air Force for the commendable efforts of our Air Warrior,” he said, mentioning its role during the 1947-48, 1965, 1971 and 1999 wars.

The “Swachh Bharat Mission”, he said, had become a success story globally.

Noting how a small step of people can bring changes in the life of the most underprivileged, the Prime Minister invoked Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy and mantras and called upon the people to purchase khadi and handloom products on special occasions.

“What people purchase must benefit our countrymen… This is the mantra of Gandhiji, this is the message of Gandhiji. I firmly believe that a small step of yours can surely bring about a very big benefit in the life of the poorest and the most underprivileged person.

“The mantras of Gandhiji are very relevant even today,” he said.

He urged the people to participate in the ‘Run for Unity’, on the birth anniversary of Sardar Patel, on October 31.

He recalled former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, saying his mild persona always fills every Indian with a sense of pride.

The Prime Minister hailed the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

“It is essential for the freedom and peace of the exploited, victimised and deprived people and to ensure justice for them. NHRC has not only protected human rights but has also promoted respect for human dignity over the years.”

He said the NHRC, formed on October 12, 1993, had sparked hope and confidence among Indians.

(With IANS inputs)

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