Pakistan has rejected India's new Army Chief Gen Manoj Mukund Naravane's statement that New Delhi reserves the right to "preemptively strike" across the Line of Control (LoC), terming his remarks as "irresponsible".
In an exclusive interview to PTI barely hours after taking charge of the 1.3-million strong force, Army Chief Gen Naravane on Tuesday said India reserves the right to "preemptively strike" at sources of terror. He asserted that a "new normal" in the country's response mechanism to acts of cross-border terrorism has already been "emphatically" displayed.
"If Pakistan does not stop its policy of state-sponsored terrorism, we reserve the right to preemptively strike at the sources of terror threat and this intent has adequately been demonstrated in our response during surgical strikes and Balakot operation," Gen Naravane said in New Delhi, in a stern warning to Islamabad.
Reacting to Gen Naravane's remarks, the Pakistan Foreign Office in a statement on Wednesday said, "We reject the new Indian Army Chief's irresponsible statement regarding 'pre-emptive strikes' across the LoC" inside Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
"There should be no doubt about Pakistan's resolve and readiness to thwart against any aggressive Indian move", inside its territory or PoK, it said.
"No one should forget Pakistan's befitting response to India's Balakot misadventure," it added.
Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated after a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed killed 40 CRPF personnel in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district on February 14.
On February 26, Indian fighter jets entered deep inside Pakistan and bombed JeM terror camps in Balakot.
The air strike was followed by an aerial combat between air forces of the two countries on February 27 when Pakistan jets entered India. While chasing Pakistani jet an Indian Air Force jet crashed in PoK following which its injured pilot was captured. The pilot was handed over to India on March 1.
"Despite India's provocations, Pakistan would continue contributing to all efforts of promoting peace, security and stability in the region and beyond," the statement said.
The Foreign Office also said it will continue to highlight the issue of Kashmir on international forums.
"Pakistan reaffirmed its unflinching support and solidarity with the Kashmiri people as the inhuman lockdown" in Jammu and Kashmir reaches 150 days, it said.
The FO also said India must immediately lift the continuing communication restrictions in Kashmir.
Pakistan has been unsuccessfully trying to drum up international support against India for withdrawing Jammu and Kashmir's special status on August 5 and bifurcating it into two union territories.
Reacting sharply to India's decision, Pakistan downgraded diplomatic ties with New Delhi and expelled India's high commissioner.
India has categorically told the international community that the scrapping of Article 370 was its internal matter. It also advised Pakistan to accept the reality and stop all anti-India propaganda.
Following the abrogation of Article 370, the Indian government imposed restrictions, including ban on mobile phones and Internet, in Jammu and Kashmir to maintain law and order. The restrictions are being gradually lifted in a phased manner.