India has more effective options besides surgical strikes against Pakistan, Indian Army Chief Bipin Rawat said in an interview with Hindustan Times on Tuesday.
“Pakistan thinks it is fighting an easy war that’s paying them dividends, but we have options [other than surgical strikes] that are far more impactful and effective. Our army is not barbaric. I don’t want to [collect] heads because we are a disciplined force,” he said referring to the beheading and multilation of Indian soldiers on the border on May 1, allegedly by the Pakistan Army.
Rawat was skeptical about Pakistan’s will to rein in Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin, after the United States designated him a global terrorist. “I will wait and watch to see if Pakistan truly reins him in, because he was issuing a calendar of protests on the very day he was designated.” Rawat pointed out the instance of Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed, who had an official bounty on his head, but had not been subjected to any crackdown by Pakistan.
The Army Chief also said that talks with Kashmiri separatist leaders could only happen when there was peace. “The Army has to ensure that peace returns. I’ll hold talks with a person who assures me that my convoy will not be hit. The day that happens, I will personally hold a dialogue.” But he claimed that the Army is making efforts to reach out to Kashmiri leaders, and added that he did not want innocents to die in crossfire.
However, Rawat again defended Major Gogoi’s action of using a Kashmiri youth as a human shield, in a video that had gone viral. “The election commission staff called for help. What if they had been lynched?” he asked.
The Army Chief also dismissed claims of a skirmish between Indian and Chinese troops in Sikkim. “There was no incursion into our territory. I don’t know where the visuals are from, but they are not from Sikkim.”