New Delhi: Amid the border standoff with China, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley today said that the Indian armed forces are strong enough to meet any challenge to the country's security as he underlined that lessons have been learnt from the 1962 war.
He also said in the Rajya Sabha that the people of the country have a predominant wish of retrieving the parts of Jammu and Kashmir that are occupied by Pakistan since 1948.
Mr Jaitley, while initiating a special debate to mark the 75th anniversary of the 'Quit India' Movement launched by Mahatma Gandhi in 1942, said India had faced many challenges over these decades but "we can proudly say the country became stronger with each challenge".
He said India had "learnt a lesson" from the 1962 war with China and that "the armed forces have been made fully capable...because even today the nation faces challenges from our neighbouring countries."
Compared to 1962, the armed forces were made stronger in the 1965 and 1971 wars, Mr Jaitley said. In 1962, India had to face a war imposed by China and suffer severe reverses. However, in the wars of 1965 and 1971 thrust by Pakistan, India had emerged victorious. "I agree that some challenges are still there. Some people are targeting our country's sovereignty and integrity. But I am fully confident that our brave soldiers have the capabilty to keep our country secure, may it be challenges on the eastern border or the western border," he said.
"The armed forces can give any kind of sacrifice for the security of the nation," the defence minister asserted.
Defence Minister Jaitley's message assumes significance as it comes amid a two-month-long border standoff with China in Doklam even though he did not specifically mention it. He also referred to the occupation of parts of Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistan soon after Independence.
"Initially (after Independence), we faced a crisis. Our neighbour had an eye on Kashmir. Even today, we cannot forget that a part of the country has got separated. It is a wish of every Indian today as to how to retrieve that part (of our country)," the minister said.
Mr Jaitley said that the country is facing a bigger challenge from terrorism and Left-wing extremism.
In a clear reference to Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, Mr Jaitley said "a prime minister and a former prime minister had to lose their lives to terrorism."
Mr Jaitley said that people from across the border and also some people within the country who have taken to arms, are trying to spread terrorism especially in the northern region of the country. He said that the security forces, including the Army, CRPF and Jammu and Kashmir police have contributed immensely in the fight against terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir, though some incidents still take place.
Mr Jaitley stressed that the House and the whole nation needed to commit in one voice to fight the menace of terrorism. He also emphasised on probity in public life and reduction of money use in politics.
Emphasising that different religions and castes are an integral part of the country, Mr Jaitley said it is important to manitain harmony in the country. The minister said that there should be no place in the country for violence in the name of politics, religion and terrorism. "The country should be freed from such violence," he said and added that on this historic day there is a need to take pledge to make India strong, just and economically progressive.