New Delhi: Pakistan Army chief Raheel Sharif`s remark describing Kashmir as "jugular vein" of his country today drew sharp reaction from Congress and BJP which condemned the "provocative" and "uncalled for" statement and rejected it.
Declaring Jammu and Kashmir as an integral part of India, Finance Minister P Chidambaram told reporters here that the Pakistani General`s remarks were "no different" from statements made from the neighbouring country in the past and "we should not take them seriously".
"We reject that statement. J &K is an integral part of India and will remain so. It is no different from statements made by Pakistan in the past. I don`t think we need to take them seriously. I don`t think anybody in the world has any doubt that J and K is an integral part of India," he said.
He also noted that Jammu and Kashmir had recently witnessed elections which were held in democratic and peaceful manner.
BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman termed Sharif`s statement as "provocative" and "uncalled for" and said the civilian elected government there should speak up and ensure that the peace in the region is not disturbed.
"The BJP condemns the provocative and aggressive comments made by Sharif.
It is for the civilian elected government of Pakistan to speak up so that the region remains peaceful and helps the development of all democracies around," Sitharaman told a press conference.
She said such an "uncalled for" statement by Sharif 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," Sitharaman said.
She 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 and K inclusive of those parts which are under illegal occupation by Pakistan belong to India.
Sharif has 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 yesterday addressing a ceremony to mark Martyrs` Day at Rawalpindi. He termed 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."