PM Modi speaks to people of Pakistan: Let us go to war against poverty, unemployment… let’s see who wins


Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a strong attack on Pakistan on Saturday, warning that India will not forget the sacrifices of the 18 soldiers who were killed in the terrorist strike at the Army camp in Uri last Sunday.

At the same time, he reached out to the people of Pakistan — differentiating between them and their government, which he said was the sole exporter of terror across the globe. Modi spoke directly to Pakistanis, telling them to ask their rulers why, at a time India was exporting software to the entire world, Pakistan was bent on exporting terrorism.

The Prime Minister acknowledged the nationwide “aakrosh” in the wake of Uri, but framed the conflict in terms of a long haul — reminding both his audience and Pakistan that while India would not forget the loss of 18 jawans, Indian forces had killed over 110 terrorists while foiling 17 attempted attacks, the most in recent years.

The confidence and faith of 1.25 billion Indians was what fired the soldier and gave him strength, the PM said.

Modi challenged Pakistan to go to war against poverty, unemployment, illiteracy and infant mortality instead, saying “let’s see who wins those wars”, India or Pakistan. “I want to say that India is a ready for a war… India is a ready for a war on poverty. Let both countries fight to see who would eradicate poverty first… I want to tell the youth of Pakistan, let’s have a war on ending unemployment… I want to call out to the children in Pakistan, let’s declare war on illiteracy. Let’s see who wins. Let’s declare war on infant mortality and maternal deaths,” he said.

Modi’s first public speech since the Uri attacks, at Kozhikode beach at the beginning of the BJP’s National Council meeting, struck a balance between responding to belligerent sections within his support base who have been seeking visible action against Pakistan, and positioning the PM as the statesman who saw the India Story as being bigger and brighter than the India-Pak tensions story.

At the same time, he repeatedly praised the armed forces, lauding their sacrifice and boosting their morale.

“Sacrifice of our 18 jawans will not go in vain,” he said. “Let the terrorists make no mistake, India will never forget the Uri attack… We will leave no stone unturned to isolate Pakistan in the world.”

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