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For Pakistan to stay together with India, it will have to become a secular state: Indian Army Chief Rawat

File photo.

Indian Army Chief Bipin Rawat, Friday reacted to the statement made by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan inquiring why India and Pakistan could not stay together if France and Germany could by stating that for that to happen, Pakistan would first have to become a secular state.

While interacting with the media on the sidelines of the Passing Out Parade of 135th course of National Defence Academy in Pune, which he reviewed on Friday morning, he made the statement.

“For this idea of countries coming together, Pakistan will have to look at their own internal situation. Pakistan has made itself into an Islamic State. If they have to stay together with India, they will have to become a secular state. We are a secular state. How can we stay together, when they say they are an Islamic State and there is no role for anyone else,” Rawat said.

He mentioned about the scope of increasing the role of women in the Indian armed forces and said that areas like information warfare, psychological warfare and role as interpreters in military diplomacy are some of the areas where there will be a bigger role played by women in coming days.

“We want to move forward in our relations with India. If France and Germany who fought several wars can live in peace, why can’t India and Pakistan,” Khan had said Wednesday while laying the foundation stone for the Kartarpur corridor.

The Kartarpur Corridor, which will facilitate the visa-free travel of members of India’s Sikh community to their religious site in Pakistan, was inaugurated in India on Monday and in Pakistan on Wednesday and is expected to be completed within six months.

PDP President Mehbooba Mufti on Thursday criticized certain media houses for claiming the the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor could facilitate the Khalistan agenda — the demand for a separate Sikh homeland.

This came after Punjab Chief Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu sparked fresh controversy after a photograph of him with Khalistani activist Gopal Singh Chawla was posted on Chawl’s Facebook wall on Thursday.

Earlier, the Union Cabinet headed by PM Narendra Modi announced building the Kartarpur road corridor up to the international border between India and Pakistan to let Sikh pilgrims visit the gurdwara on the banks of the river Ravi in Pakistan.

Both Pakistan and India made the decision to allow the pilgrims visit the holy shrine without having to secure a visa.

The foundation stone in Gurdaspur was laid by Vice-President of India Venkaiah Naidu in the presence of the CM and Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari on Monday.

The Government of Pakistan had also said that it would provide land to Sikh organisations for construction of modern hotels in Kartarpur, Nankana Sahib and Narowal, besides construction of a railway station in Kartarpur to provide state-of-the-art board and lodging facilities to Sikh pilgrims visiting Pakistan.

“I am saying today, that our political leaders, our army, and all other institutions are all on one page. We wish to move forward, we want a civilised relationship,” Khan had said. “I assure you that we can solve this problem. But determination and big dreams are necessary. Imagine, once trade begins, once our relationship is fixed, how much both nations could benefit.”

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