‘Will respond effectively if attacked’
Calling on the international community to help de-escalate the situation between the nuclear-armed neighbours, Pakistan government has alleged that India is preparing to launch a “surgical [military] strike” on Pakistani soil, an international news organisation Aljazeera reported.
Quoting Foreign Minister of Pakistan Shah Mehmood Qureshi while speaking to the press in the United Arab Emirates capital Abu Dhabi on Friday, the report said that he warned that Pakistan would retaliate if attacked.
“I have learned through our intelligence sources and they have picked up this information that India is planning a surgical strike against Pakistan,” the report quoted Qureshi as having said.
“This is a serious development and I also have knowledge that they have tried to seek tacit approval from important players who they consider to be their partners,” he added.
Qureshi warned that Pakistan would strike back at India “a notch above” if attacked.
“I want to tell India very clearly that Pakistan is fully prepared to respond and to defeat their designs,” Qureshi was quoted saying further.
“We will do it effectively as we did respond immediately and effectively in February 2019. And we will respond effectively if they choose this path.”
In this regard, Pakistan’s national security adviser Moeed Yusuf told Aljazeera that Pakistan had obtained “very specific and reliable intelligence” of the Indian plans to launch strikes.
“We remind the world that peace is a collective responsibility. The world must prevent India from destabilising the region in its attempt to divert attention from its domestic troubles,” the report quoted Yusuf as having said.
The two countries frequently accuse each other of sponsoring armed groups or planning attacks against the other.
In September 2016, India claimed to have carried out a “surgical strike” on Pakistan-administered Kashmir to hit armed groups linked to an earlier attack on Indian armed forces in Uri town in Jammu and Kashmir.
At the time, Pakistan denied Indian forces had ever entered Pakistan-controlled territory, the report said.
Meanwhile, the report quoting Pakistan’s military and the foreign ministry added that Indian armed forces fired on and damaged a UN vehicle in Pakistan-administered Kashmir on Friday.
“[The] Indian Army resorted to unprovoked fire in Chirikot Sector of LOC [Line of Control]. Indian troops deliberately targeted a United Nations vehicle with [two] military observers on board,” the military said in a statement.
The military also released images purportedly showing a bullet hole and other damage on the vehicle.
According to the report, Pakistan, last month, shared an intelligence dossier with the international community which it said contained evidence of Indian sponsorship of armed groups operating on Pakistani soil.
While such allegations by both sides are common, the revelations were unprecedented in their specificity, including audio recordings and documents said to be tied to specific attacks, armed groups and armed groups’ leaders, the report said.
Qureshi said the international community had been made aware of the Pakistani intelligence.
“We have communicated this to important capitals,” he said. “We have shared the information that we have picked up with important capitals and they are fully aware of Indian designs and our resolve,” the report quoted Qureshi as saying.
He warned that any Indian attack on Pakistan could have “catastrophic consequences” and would “seriously undermine” the intra-Afghan peace process, which began in September and which Pakistan has been facilitating.
“In our opinion, Pakistan feels that if they undertake this misadventure, it will seriously undermine the Afghan peace process, which has moved forward and if things go wrong, India would be held responsible for this,” he said.
“I urge the global community to caution India to refrain and desist. And to not test Pakistan’s resolve,” Aljazeera quoted Qureshi as saying.