Pakistan Army chief Gen Raheel Sharif has responded to his Indian counterpart’s remarks about terrorist violence triggering short wars by saying Kashmir is the “unfinished agenda” of Partition and his troops are ready to inflict an “unbearable cost” for any aggression.
Sharif’s remarks, made during a ceremony held at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi on Sunday to commemorate the 1965 war with India, came days after Indian Army chief Gen Dalbir Singh warned Pakistan-sponsored violence in Jammu and Kashmir and other areas could trigger short and swift wars.
Sharif’s speech touched on several issues, including terrorism, the peace process in Afghanistan and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, but the focus was clearly the tense relations with India. Ties touched a new low after the recent collapse of planned talks between the national security advisers amidst diplomatic acrimony.
“Armed forces of Pakistan are fully capable to deal (with) all types of internal and external threats, be it conventional or sub-conventional; whether it is cold start or hot start. We are ready!” he said, according to a statement issued by the Pakistan Army’s media arm.
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.
“It should be clearly understood that enduring peace in the region will not be possible without a just resolution of Kashmir,” Sharif added. “The time has come that Kashmir issue should be resolved in line with the aspirations of its people in accordance with UN resolutions.”
Last week, Indian Army chief Gen Dalbir Singh told a seminar marking 50 years of the 1965 war that the country must be prepared for short wars if Pakistan-backed violence in Jammu and Kashmir intensified and spread to other areas.
“The border remains alive and active due to the frequency of ceasefire violations and infiltration bids by our western neighbour. Recent incidents of terrorist violence are clear pointers to the attempt to extend the arc of violence to other areas,” Singh said.
“In that context we have to be prepared for the short and swift nature of future wars that are likely to offer limited warning time," he added. “This calls for maintaining high levels of operational preparedness at all times, something that has now become inherent in our operational strategy.”