Pakistan on Thursday denied that Indian troops had carried out surgical strikes across the Line of Control, saying it had responded to “cross-border fire” from the Indian side that killed two soldiers and injured nine more.
Foreign secretary Aizaz Chaudhry summoned Indian envoy Gautam Bambawale on Thursday evening and rejected the “so-called surgical strikes” and condemned what he described as “unprovoked firing” by Indian forces on the LoC, state-run Radio Pakistan said.
Chaudhry said the Pakistan military “will continue to give a befitting response to any act of aggression”. He added that India had escalated tensions on the LoC to divert attention from the “grave human rights situation” in Kashmir.
Pakistan’s civil and military leadership reacted after India’s Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lt Gen Ranbir Singh said Indian soldiers conducted surgical strikes on terrorist launch pads across the LoC, causing significant casualties.
The first reaction came from the Pakistan military’s media arm, which said in a strongly worded statement: “There has been no surgical strike by India, instead there had been cross-border fire initiated and conducted by India which is existential phenomenon.”
The military dismissed the surgical strikes as an “illusion”, while defence minister Khawaja Asif referred to them as “a lie”. The military also said “if there is a surgical strike on Pakistani soil, same will be strongly responded”.
Asif said Pakistani troops had responded to “small weapons fire in five sectors along the LoC” that killed two soldiers and injured nine others.
“If India tries to do this again, we will respond forcefully,” said Asif, who had on Monday warned that Pakistan would use its nuclear weapons to annihilate India if the country’s survival was threatened.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif discussed the situation along the LoC during a phone call with army chief Gen Raheel Sharif, and convened a meeting of his cabinet on Friday to review the situation in Kashmir. National Security Advisor Nasser Janjua submitted a comprehensive report on the LoC situation to Sharif’s office.
Before India’s DGMO announced the surgical strikes, the Pakistani military said there was “Indian unprovoked firing” in Bhimber, Hot Spring, Kel and Lipa sectors of the 742-km LoC between 2.30 am and 8 am.
Prime Minister Sharif said Pakistan’s “intent for a peaceful neighbourhood should not be mistaken as its weakness”. He condemned the “unprovoked and naked aggression of Indian forces” and said Pakistan can “thwart any evil design to undermine” its sovereignty.
Pakistan also expressed disappointment at India’s decision to pull out from the Saarc Summit and conveyed its concern over threats to its envoy in New Delhi. It asked the Indian government to ensure the safety of the envoy and other officials in line with the Vienna Convention.