Media See Modi Visit To Kashmir As Message To Pakistan

24 October 2014

New Delhi: Media interpret PM Narendra Modi's Diwali trip to Indian-administered Kashmir not only as an attempt to woo voters but also as a message to neighbouring Pakistan that the status of the disputed area is 'non-negotiable'. Before going to the Kashmir Valley that was devastated by floods last month, Mr Modi made a brief visit to the Siachen glacier. The area is claimed by both India and Pakistan, which each have thousands of troops stationed there. 'The BJP... is hoping to cash in on the anger of the people against Chief Minister Omar Abdullah's patchy rehabilitation of the seven lakh [700,000] people displaced by the September floods,' writes the Deccan Chronicle, referring to upcoming state elections in Jammu and Kashmir. But it adds that the prime minister had tried 'to kill two birds, domestic and international, with one stone'. With 'Mission Kashmir', India's leader also wanted to tell Pakistan 'that the status of Jammu and Kashmir is non-negotiable', the daily concludes. The New Indian Express also thinks that Mr Modi's trip 'was fraught with political significance that goes beyond the BJP's electoral imperatives'. 'Having given the armed forces full operational freedom to respond to the escalation of ceasefire violations by Pakistan forces, Modi wants to give a clear message that the trust gap between the country's civilian authority and the armed forces that lurked during the UPA [Congress-led United Progressive Alliance] dispensation no longer exists.' Commenting on the $120 million aid package announced for the state, the daily argues that the prime minister 'has offered a road map for reconstruction of the devastated region' that can 'be effective in bringing Jammu and Kashmir into the mainstream of the country's growth story'. The ruling parties in the state, the National Conference and its coalition partner Congress, have criticised the assistance as a 'big let down', arguing that it 'doesn't go far enough'.