Opposition remarks on IAF action hurt national interest: Jaitley

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New Delhi, March 3 (IANS) In a sharp attack on the opposition, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley here on Sunday said statements by opposition leaders after the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) counter-terror operation in Balakot had not only hurt India’s national interest by giving “smiles to Pakistan” but also become an instrument in its hands to discredit India.

Such statements should not have been made, he stressed.

Responding to Opposition barbs on counter-terror operation, Jaitley in a Facebook post wrote while Opposition leaders were entitled to oppose and ask questions, restraint and statesmanship too were essential ingredients of public discourse. “I hope, India’s opposition revisits its position and does not let down the nation,” Jaitley wrote.

Attacking the Congress, he said after an initial show of support for the IAF, “it tried to create a divide in India’s political opinion”.

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“At a meeting of 21 opposition parties, a resolution was passed accusing the Prime Minister of politicising the Pulwama and Balakot incidents. The government had twice taken the opposition leaders into confidence. No evidence of politicisation was given,” the Minister wrote.

“The statement was inappropriate. It gave a handle to the enemy. The media in Pakistan used the statement of 21 opposition parties as a trump card, an endorsement of the Pakistani position that India had taken the Balakot action because of the compulsion of its domestic politics and not as a part of its policy to defend the country against terrorism,” he remarked.

Jaitley said the pre-emptive attack by the IAF was intended to defend India’s sovereignty and was perfectly executed, pinpointed operation in which no civilian or military installations were targeted.

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Pakistan was globally isolated and the whole of India was speaking in one voice with public opinion overwhelmingly supporting the government’s decision and the IAF’s execution, he said.

Jaitley said the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee went a step further and started doubting the veracity of the incident and wanted to know the operational details. “The credibility of both the government and our Air Force is being doubted. Even Congress leaders have raised similar questions.”

He said the “most disappointing and objectionable statement” was of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. “He stated that he was disturbed with the ‘mad rush of mutual self-destruction’ by the two nations. According to him, perpetrator of terrorism and its victim are both at par.

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“In his speech, Singh implicitly doubted India’s right to defend its sovereignty from those who want to damage it through terrorism. He mentioned poverty, ignorance and disease in his speech. But violence and terrorism are of no consequence in his assessment,” the BJP leader said.

“These statements hurt India’s national interest. Seen collectively and cumulatively, the above three statements ought not to have been made. Does the opposition want the IAF to release operation details of the Balakot attack?

“The Opposition is entitled to oppose and ask questions, but then restraint and statesmanship are also essential ingredients of public discourse. I hope, India’s opposition revisits its position and does not let down the nation,” he said.

–IANS

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