India has become involved in a wave of war hysteria after the Uri attack and the intensity of the Kashmir issue. New Delhi has blamed Pakistan for the attack on an Indian military base in Uri and India has since started making threatening statements against Pakistan.
The Indian army moved heavy artillery to forward bases along the 778-kilometre Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir. Indian military officials confirmed to BBC Urdu that large-calibre guns, including Bofors, have been deployed at forward positions in the region to target Pakistani defences. Indian military sources added they were not preparing for war but the latest exercises were carried out “to preempt any assault in future”.
“The army continues to upgrade its operational readiness all along the LoC, with the redeployment of troops and some forward movement of ammunition and fuel dumps,” Times of India (ToI) newspaper reported.
Though officials in Islamabad don’t see an imminent threat of war, Pakistani fighter jets have been conducting high-profile landing and take-off exercises on motorways for the past two days. “The defenders of our skies in a state of constant readiness, Alhamdolillah. Our motorways are our runways,” Defence Minister Khawaja Asif wrote on his official Twitter handle.
Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria played down the media hype about the ‘routine exercises’ but said the armed forces and the entire nation of Pakistan remain ready to defend country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity at all costs.
According to BBC Urdu, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi spent Thursday at a military operation room where he monitored the Indian army’s movement along the LoC.
“There have been other top-level meetings over the last two days, including with National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, to discuss the operational situation along the LoC, as well as the military options,” TOI quoted a source as saying.
Hawkish Indian officials have been talking about covert or overt strikes in Pakistan. And TOI reported that India’s options range from concentrated firepower assaults with 155mm artillery guns, Smerch rockets and BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles to ‘surgical air strikes’ by fighter jets to take out alleged terror camps through precision-guided munitions.
In December 2001 when militants laid a siege to the Indian parliament, New Delhi blamed Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group and massed troops along the LoC in an operation, codenamed Parakram, triggering fears of an all-out war.
Pakistani military officials say the consequences of any form of attack from India could be far worse than people realise on both sides of the border.
However, while India is thickening its aggressive posture along the LoC, Pakistan too has shored up its border defences, including reinforcing its artillery positions.
On Wednesday, authorities imposed ‘airspace restrictions’ and cancelled all flights to Gilgit-Baltistan. Sections of the motorway near Peshawar and Lahore were also closed to traffic to allow Pakistan Air Force (PAF) fighter jets practice landing and take-off. On Thursday too, PAF closed Lahore-Peshawar motorway in what it said was routine training not related to heightened tension.
Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the UN Dr Maleeha Lodhi said on Thursday that Pakistan would not be drawn into the war talk. “India has been beating the war drum in response to the diplomatic pressure (on prevailing rights human situation in Kashmir). We don’t think any such threat of war is imminent. Any such notion between two nuclear powers will be irrational,” she told a private TV channel.
Dr Lodhi said Pakistan never desired to escalate the situation rather always desired to resolve the issues peacefully. She said as next step Pakistan would approach the members of the UN Security Council, though a dossier had already been presented to the UN Secretary General on Kashmir situation.