General Rawat said it is time to give peace a chance and benefits available to other citizens should reach people in Kashmir

NEW DELHI: The Pakistan nuclear bogey in retaliation to the withdrawal of Article 370 is a sign that there is a lack of conviction in its conventional forces, Army chief General Bipin Rawat told ET, adding it’s time to give peace a chance in Jammu and Kashmir.

General Rawat also said Pakistan has made fresh deployments along the Line of Control (LoC) as a 'precautionary' step, as it fears a strong retaliation in the event of any terror attack in India.

The Army chief said India has noted the emerging threats from Pakistan and is more-than-prepared to meet any challenge. On nuclear threats by Islamabad, General Rawat said that this was a sign of a loss of confidence in conventional forces in Pakistan.

“When you don’t have confidence in the abilities of your conventional forces to deter the adversary, you start using the nuclear bogey," the Army chief said, adding there have been signs that Pakistan has made additional deployments along the LoC even as it has given a free run to terror organisation operating from its soil.

“Pakistan appears to have made precautionary deployments because there could be attempts of a terror attack. Terrorists are getting a loose rope on their soil, they are getting emboldened. And should they succeed in carrying out a terror attack—though we are fully prepared—they would expect retaliation from us. If you perpetrate violence, you cannot get away," the Army chief said.

The security forces are on the guard in the Kashmir Valley as restrictions are slowly being lifted – land lines were activated in most parts of the state on Thursday – but are cautious that Pakistani elements would attempt to instigate violence. “There will be attempts to instigate violence in J&K once restrictions are lifted. Pakistan realises that it is good for it to instigate violence. We are ready to handle it,” he said.

General Rawat, who has visited the Kashmir Valley last week, said it is time to give peace a chance and benefits available to other citizens should reach people in Kashmir. The officer expressed hope that elders would help break the cycle of violence.

‘"It is time to give peace a chance in J&K. For 30 years, the people of J&K have suffered. We are hopeful the elders and the Sarpanchs can explain to the youth that peace and development should be given a chance,” General Rawat said.

The officer also came down hard on what he said was a ‘wrong perception’ that there is a big clampdown in the valley and people are being held ‘hostage’ in their homes for the past month. General Rawat said that there have been clear signs that work has not stopped and people are freely moving around for necessary work, adding that there is a motivated campaign to project a clampdown.

“Brick kilns are functioning, houses are under construction and hundreds of trucks of apples have crossed the Jawahar tunnel. If there was a clampdown, would these be possible?” Who are the elements who are trying to close shops These are the people whose survival depends on terrorism,” the Army chief said.