Attari: India today asked Pakistan to end the atmosphere of terror along the border, saying that New Delhi wants to maintain friendly relations with the neighbouring country.

“Pakistan should ponder as to how long this atmosphere of terror (‘dehshat gardi ki mahol’) will continue. I want to ask Pakistan, how long do you want to keep the border red with terrorism? It must come to an end,” Home Minister Rajnath Singh said at a BSF function at this border crossing point between India and Pakistan near Amritsar in Punjab.

Recalling a statement by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Singh said one can change his or her friend but not neighbours and that is why the NDA government wanted friendly relations with Pakistan.

Lauding Vajpayee’s peace initiative with the neighbouring country in the late 90s, Singh said this was the same Wagah-Attari border from where the former prime minister had started his peace initiative with Pakistan.

“Vajpayee had offered the hand of friendship to Pakistan. He not only wanted friendly relations with Pakistan but heart-to-heart relations between the people of the two countries.

“But what did we get in return? Kargil war,” he said.

The home minister said India won that war and wants to move forward and make friendship with Pakistan “but, so far, we have not been able to achieve what we want”.

Hailing the role of BSF in guarding the border with Pakistan, Singh said that whenever required, the border guarding force has responded suitably to any challenge. He said that the government is preparing a comprehensive plan for ensuring foolproof security along the Indo-Pak border.

Earlier, the home minister laid the foundation stone for a new viewers’ gallery at Attari, the border post with Pakistan.

The Attari-Wagah Joint Check Post is famous for the beating the retreat ceremony held jointly every day by BSF and Pakistan Rangers. The new-look gallery, with an increased sitting capacity and additional facilities for tourists, will be constructed at a cost of Rs 25 crore.

Singh also congratulated the women’s camel contingent of BSF for reaching the Wagah-Atari border after completing a march of 2,300 km. The all-women safari, consisting of BSF women officers and women volunteers from Tata Steel Adventure, had started off from Bhuj in Gujarat on 26 February 2015.

Meanwhile, talking about the recent attacks on churches in the country, the home minister said, “There is no need to create a sense of fear among minorities, we should instead instil confidence. Whether it’s an attack on a temple, a mosque, or any religious place, whatever action is required under the law will be taken.”

Singh also said that the “percentage of women in police and the Central armed forces will be increased to 33 percent”.

He felicitated women BSF jawans and also watched the Beating-the-Retreat ceremony at the Attari-Wagah border.

Singh is the third home minister to visit Attari ever since the Integrated Check Post came up there, the other two being P Chidambaram and Sushilkumar Shinde.

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