ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's top civilian and military leadership have warned India of strong military response to its unprovoked firing across the Line of Control (LoC) and the working boundary between the two neighbouring countries.
At a meeting of the National Security Committee today in Islamabad, leaders expressed their disappointment over the fact that Pakistan’s sincerity has not been reciprocated by India.
The NSC was meeting under the Chairmanship of the Prime Minister, while Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Information Minister Pervez Rashid, Advisor to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, and Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif and other chiefs and senior civil and military officials attended the meeting.
The top-level meeting was called in the backdrop of a rise in tensions and continued cross-border firing along the disputed Kashmir border and the working boundary between India and Pakistan.
Dozens have been killed since heavy shelling and gun battles started between border troops late Sunday – the worst skirmishes between the nuclear-armed neighbours in over decade.
Pakistan says 13 civilians have been killed since clashes began, while at least eight have killed been on the Indian side of the border, according to different reports.
Friday’s meeting of the NSC discussed the situation arising from unprovoked firing by Indian forces, officials said, with the committee noting with deep concern that ceasefire violations by India have led to loss of precious lives and injuries to innocent people and Pakistani soldiers.
“Sadly, the unprovoked violations of ceasefire by the Indian Security Forces occurred in total disregard of the auspicious and festive occasion of Eidul Azha,” said an official statement issued after the NSC meeting. “The Committee expresses its full confidence in the capability of our Armed Forces to defend the country against any aggression and safeguard the territorial integrity of Pakistan.”
The committee observed that the “abrupt cancellation of the foreign secretary-level talks by India and refusal to resume the dialogue process are a setback to our efforts to establish good neighborly relations”.
India called off peace talks last month after Pakistan consulted with Hurriyat leaders before a scheduled meeting.
“The present situation on the LoC and Working Boundary (WB) is a further blow to these efforts. The Committee noted that these developments have not only disappointed the people in Pakistan and India but the international community too has shared this disappointment,” the statement further said.
The statement reiterated Pakistan’s rejection of war.
“Both countries are aware of each other’s capabilities. War is not an option. It is shared responsibility of the leadership of both countries to immediately defuse the situation,” it said.
However, it warned: “Pakistan’s earnest desire for normalising bilateral relations and defusing the situation at the LoC should not be seen as a sign of weakness … Any attempt to challenge Pakistan’s territorial integrity and sovereignty will be responded with full force. The Armed Forces assured the National Security Committee that they are fully prepared to deal with any adversity at our borders.”
The NSC stressed that the two sides should respect a ceasefire agreement reached in 2003, “without indulging in blame-game and point-scoring”.
Any escalation will complicate the environment for meaningful discussion on the Kashmir issue and the broader objective of regional cooperation, it added.
Following the meeting, Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan said the PM’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz would soon write letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon over the LoC violations by India.
“Special emissaries would also be sent to P-5 countries to apprise them about Pakistan's stance over Kashmir and LoC violations by India,” Nisar said.
PM on Zarb-i-Azb
During the meeting, the premier said that his visit to Miramshah was a very moving experience.
He also paid rich tributes to troops who were fighting against terrorists in North Waziristan and noted the sacrifices of soldiers who had laid down their lives in defence of their motherland.
Military operation Zarb-i-Azb was launched by the Pakistan Army on June 15 following a brazen militant attack on Karachi's international airport and failure of peace talks between the government and Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) negotiators.
Nearly a million people have fled the offensive in North Waziristan, which is aimed at wiping out longstanding militant strongholds in the area, which borders Afghanistan.