New Delhi: BJP on Thursday slammed Pakistan Army Chief Raheel Sharif for terming Kashmir as "jugular vein" of his country and asked the civilian government there to ensure that such "provocative" and "aggressive" statements are avoided for peace in the region.
Questioning the timing of the statement, the party maintained that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and such statements amount to "gross interference" in this country.
"The BJP condemns the provocative and aggressive comments made by the Army Chief General Raheel Sharif. It is for the civilian elected government of Pakistan to speak up in order that the region remains peaceful and help the development of all democracies around," BJP Spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said at a press conference.
She said such an "uncalled for" statement by the Army Chief should be rejected comprehensively and asked the Pakistan government to focus its attention on building a peaceful Pakistan and not allow its Army to pose a threat to the peace in the region.
"BJP voices its concern that such statements do not help in building good neighbourhood. The elected civilian government of Pakistan should ensure that it focuses its attention on building a peaceful Pakistan and not allow its army to pose threat and issue alarm calls against peace in the region," she said.
Sitharaman said Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and the Indian Parliament has in no uncertain words stated and also passed a resolution in 1994 that the entire J&K inclusive of those parts which are under illegal occupation by Pakistan belong to India.
She said the remarks are "interfering" with the territory of India and the Pakistan government is remaining silent.
"It is important that the Pakistan authorities remember that the peace in this region cannot be affected by their hawkish uncalled for statements," she said.
The Pakistan Army Chief termed Kashmir as the "jugular vein" of Pakistan and said the issue should be resolved in accordance with the wishes and aspirations of Kashmiris and in line with UNSC resolutions for lasting peace in the region.
"Matchless sacrifices offered by Kashmiris will not go in vain," he said addressing a ceremony to mark Martyrs` Day at Rawalpindi terming Kashmir as an internationally recognised dispute.
He also said, "Pakistan Army is in favour of peace but is always ready to respond to any aggression in befitting manner."
Condemning Gen Sharif`s statement, BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said, "This kind of exuberance by Pakistan Army chief is totally unacceptable."
He termed it as "a matter of gross interference".
Noting that the Lok Sabha elections are just a fortnight away, he said it is "grossly unfair and unwarranted" if such statements come in this situation.
"India knows how to handle its own strategic imperatives and requirements. But this is a case of gross interference. In this line, this kind of statement coming is grossly unfair, unwarranted," Prasad said.
"I condemn it on behalf of BJP and surely this time the Foreign Affairs Minister with Government of India must take suitable appropriate response in this connection," Prasad said.