Drass (Ladakh), July 26: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday said while the jawans of the Indian Army did not step across the Line of Control (LoC) during the Kargil conflict in 1999, they could have ventured inside enemy territory if they so wanted.
Addressing an event commemorating solders, who laid down their lives on the line of duty, at the 24th Kargil Vijay Divas, on Wednesday, the Defence Minister said, "The honour and dignity of the nation are above everything else for us. And to save or restore our country's honour and territorial integrity, we can go to any extent. The reason why our forces did not cross the LoC after emerging victors in 'Operation Vijay' on July 26 1999 is because we are a peace-loving country, which is rooted to its values and are committed to international laws." "We did not cross the LoC (during the Kargil conflict) but it does not mean if could not or cannot do so. We reserve the right to cross the LoC to defend our borders and will do so, if needed. Let there be no doubt about it," he said.
He said the Kargil conflict was imposed on India.
"We did try to resolve all issues with Pakistan through diplomatic channels, but were backstabbed. Late Prime Minister Atal-Ji had made sincere efforts to address and resolve all issues, including Kashmir, by visiting Pakistan. However, as part of its nefarious designs, Pakistan sent its soldiers to capture some of our positions in Kargil. The enemy occupied vantage points and were strongly placed," the minister said.
He said that Indian Army gave a befitting reply to Pakistani intruders during "Operation Vijay", sending a message not only to the cross-border rival but the whole world, that when it comes to its national interests, the Indian army will not back down at any cost, Singh said.
"Even today, we are fully committed to safeguarding our national interests. It doesn't matter who is in front of us. The public has reposed its faith in us and knows that the government will never compromise on the issue of national interest. Whether it is about Kargil or another incident, our army shown that wars are not fought with bombs and guns but on the courage of conviction and valour," Singh said.
"Our government has given a free hand to the army to act however its wants to defend our borders and territorial integrity. Our army was always as powerful as it is today but the only thing lacking in previous years was political will. I want to assure you that the political will of the government has only become stronger in the last few years. The government stands firmly with our army," he said.