Pakistan rejects new Indian army chief Lt Gen Manoj Mukund Naravane’s irresponsible statement about ‘pre-emptive strikes’, a spokesperson for the Foreign Office said on Thursday. In a statement, the spokesperson said Pakistan was fully able to respond to any Indian aggression in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and that New Delhi should not forget Islamabad’s befitting response to its aggression in Balakot last year.
The Foreign Office added that Pakistan would continue its efforts for peace and stability in the region despite India’s provocations. The Kashmiri people’s demand for their right of self-determination were justified and in line with the United Nation’s resolutions, it added.
India, the spokesperson noted, should permit international observers to visit occupied Kashmir.
A day earlier and shortly after taking charge as India’s new chief of the army staff (COAS), Lt Gen Naravane had said in an interview to the Press Trust of India (PTI) that New Delhi “reserve[d] the right to preemptively strike at sources of terror” and had “multiple options … to respond to any act of terror sponsored or abetted by Pakistan”.
He had said India had “evolved a strategy of resolute punitive response against sponsored terrorism”. Lt Gen Naravane’s comments were similar to those made by his predecessor, Gen Bipin Rawat, who, on Tuesday, was appointed India’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). Gen Rawat had maligned Pakistan in October last year.
Separately, Prime Minister Imran Khan had said last week that the Pakistan Army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, had assured him that the country’s military “was ready for India” in case of an attack on Azad Kashmir. “I am telling you now, [Indian Prime Minister Narendra] Modi will use this [protests in India] to do something in Azad Kashmir. I informed Gen Bajwa about this and he told me that Pakistan Army is ready for India,” he had said.
Both Prime Minister Imran Khan and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi have warned of the possibility of an Indian false flag operation in recent days. The Pakistani leadership believes India might engage in a military misadventure to divert attention away from its anti Muslim policies and it’s well recorded atrocities in Indian occupied Kashmir.