Rajnath Singh challenges Pakistan to conduct referendum; rubbishes Kashmir plebiscite

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New Delhi, Feb 6: During an election rally on Sunday, Home Minister Rajnath Singh challenged Pakistan to conduct a referendum to check if its citizens want to be part of India.

The HM's remark is seen by security experts as a smart way to bury the demand of Pakistan to conduct a plebiscite in Kashmir, to which the neighbouring country stakes a claim.

Rajnath Singh

"Now Pakistan wants referendum on Kashmir but one thing is clear that Kashmir was with India and will be with India and no power can change that. There should instead be a referendum in Pakistan, asking whether its people want to remain in the same country or want to merge with India," Singh said during a rally at Haridwar in the poll-bound Uttarakhand on Sunday.

The relationship between India and Pakistan soured to a great extent last year in the aftermath of Uri attack. Since then, the two countries are locked in an unprecedented diplomatic acrimony and border tension after the September 18 terror attack on a military base in Kashmir's border town of Uri that killed 19 soldiers.

"I want to tell this to Pakistan that India always wants to establish peaceful relations, but it was only Islamabad which has tried to disrupt the relationship. They need to stop these terrorists and those who are asking for referendum on Kashmir," Singh said.

"We want peaceful relations with Pakistan, but time and again Pakistan is responsible for notorious activities," he added.

Last year, India carried out surgical strikes against terror launch pads and killed an unspecified number of terrorists in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

"Through surgical strikes, we have showed the world that even we can take strong action. India is a peace loving country but, however, it is no longer a soft nation," the HM said.

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