New Delhi: India has a "new normal" in dealing with Pakistan, said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to NDTV today, declaring that Delhi's changed policy makes it clear that if Pakistan kills Indians, it will "pay a cost for it".
- 8 civilians killed yesterday by Pak firing in Jammu and Kashmir
- India no longer willing to suffer in silence: Arun Jaitley
- If Pak kills Indians, they will pay a heavy cost: Arun Jaitley to NDTV
Mr Jaitley spoke to NDTV after eight civilians were killed in Jammu and Kashmir within 24 hours, two young children and women among them. The deaths mark the single worst day for India in casualties caused by cross-border firing and shelling since a ceasefire was declared by India and Pakistan in 2003.
That truce is now virtually in tatters. Since September, when India carried out surgical strikes across the defacto border in Kashmir, Pakistan has violated the ceasefire nearly 60 times. At least eight Indian security troops have died since then - last week, a soldier was killed by terrorists who were given cover by Pakistani army fire; his body was left behind mutilated, prompting the army to vow revenge.
The Border Security Force has said that in recent weeks, it has killed about 20 Pakistani soldiers and taken out nearly as many Pakistani posts in retaliatory firing. The army has separately spoken of inflicting "significant casualties" without releasing details.
Pakistan should know "the times have now changed", Mr Jaitley said, referring to the government's swivelling away from the policy of strategic restraint used by its predecessor in dealing with Islamabad. "We have suffered enough in silence... the Government of India has a more proactive approach... The costs involved on Pakistan are going to be extremely severe," he said.
After Pakistani terrorists attacked an army base in Uri, leaving 19 soldiers dead, Indian troops entered Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir and targeted gathering areas for terrorists who were planning to attack major Indian cities, the army had said. Pakistan has accused India of misrepresenting cross-border firing as cross-border raids.
In statements since then, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other senior government officers have said that the army "has been given a free hand" to deal with unprovoked Pakistani aggression along the border.
Thousands of villagers have been evacuated in the last few weeks and moved into government-run shelters. Schools have been closed.