India reacted sharply on Monday to sabre-rattling by Pakistani army chief Raheel Sharif, as the NDA government said the only matter to be settled with the neighbouring country was to get back parts of Kashmir under its illegal occupation.
Jitendra Singh, minister of state in the prime minister’s office, made the remark while hitting back at Sharif who called Kashmir the “unfinished agenda” of Partition.
“If there is any subject related to Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan it is how the parts of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) can be again included in India. That means the area, which after 65-66 years, even after being part of Jammu and Kashmir, is under illegal possession of Pakistan,” the minister said.
Raheel Sharif, earlier in the day, warned India of "unbearable damage" in case of a "long or short" misadventure.
"If the enemy ever resorts to any misadventure, regardless of its size and scale - short or long - it will have to pay an unbearable cost," he said in his address at a special event in Rawalpindi to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1965 war with India.
"Armed forces of Pakistan are fully capable of dealing with all types of internal and external threats, may it be conventional or sub-conventional; whether it is cold start or hot start. We are ready," Sharif said.
Though Sharif did not name India, his reference to “cold start” – a doctrine reportedly developed by the Indian Army for short swift attacks into enemy territory – made it clear who he was referring to.
“Let me reiterate that our armed forces stand fully capable to defeat all sorts of external aggression. If the enemy resorts to any misadventure, regardless of its size and scale, it will have to pay an unbearable cost,” he said.
Sharif reiterated his description of the Kashmir issue as the “unfinished agenda of the Partition in the subcontinent”. The Kashmiri people are allegedly being subjected to “injustice and atrocities” and the Kashmir issue can “no longer be put on the backburner”, he said.
In New Delhi, both the ruling BJP and main opposition party, the Congress, panned Sharif for his remarks. BJP secretary Shrikant Sharma described his statement as an “empty boast” and added that it was driven by desperation over Pakistan’s internal crisis as well as “exposure” of its role in sponsoring terrorism in India.
“As far India is concerned, our army has strongly responded to Pakistan army’s provocations in the past, continues to do so during the ongoing ceasefire violations and will do so in case of any future misadventure,” he said.
Terming Sharif’s remarks “belligerent and irrational”, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the only unfinished agenda before the world was to ensure that Pakistan ceased to be a safe haven for global terrorists.
The statements follow days of bickering after the Pakistani government decided to cancel a meeting of its national security adviser with his Indian counterpart, citing New Delhi's refusal to allow an expanded agenda and a meeting with Kashmiri leaders.
India-Pakistan relations are at a low, with the two sides regularly trading fire over the Line of Control in Kashmir in recent months.
On Monday, a civilian was killed and four others were injured in Pakistani shelling along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch district.