Initially on the defensive after US navy commandos raided Osama bin Laden's hideout in a Pakistani military town near Islamabad and killed the al Qaeda chief on Monday, Pakistan on Thursday charged the Indian establishment and armed forces with trying to subvert Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's peace agenda.In a statement that neither amused nor surprised New Delhi, Pakistan foreign secretary Salman Bashir warned that "any misadventure" would lead to a "terrible catastrophe" in the region.
He was reacting to army chief General VK Singh's remarks on Wednesday that all three wings of India's defence forces were capable of carrying out a US-like operation in Pakistan.
Though Bashir criticised the US for violating Pakistan's sovereignty by carrying out the operation without keeping Islamabad in the loop, his tough talk was aimed at New Delhi.
"Any other country that would ever act (similarly) on the assumption that it has the might... will find it has made a basic miscalculation," Bashir said.
Responding to Bashir's statement, an Indian official said, "When cornered, Pakistan usually employs such tactics to divert attention. This time, it is to divert attention from the present mess Islamabad is in."
The official, however, said "such rhetoric" would not derail the dialogue process resumed by Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani."Their aim is to provoke India in the belief that it will set off a chain reaction of allegations and counter-allegations. That is not going to happen," the official said.
The bilateral dialogue process - suspended after the Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008 - was given a fresh impetus by Singh when he invited Gilani for the India-Pakistan World Cup semi-final cricket match in Mohali on March 30.
The two countries have already held talks at the level of the secretaries of home and commerce. The two water resources secretaries will meet next, on May 11-14, followed by other teams to discuss the Sir Creek and Siachen issues later this month.
Indian sources told HT , "As far as we are concerned, the dialogue process as directed by the Prime Minister and his Pakistani counterpart in Thimpu and reiterated in Mohali will continue. We see the dialogue as a gradual approach towards a cordial and cooperative relationship with Pakistan."
PTI inputs from Islamabad