Pakistan does not want war but is ready to “give the enemy the fullest possible response”, Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Friday against the backdrop of tensions with India over the effective revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.
In a message on the occasion of Defence Day, observed every year to mark the sacrifices of Pakistani soldiers in the 1965 war with India, Khan said Pakistan was facing a similar situation again, with the enemy “again showing aggressive postures on the Line of Control” and changing the status of Kashmir.
In a separate message, Pakistan army chief General Qamar Bajwa described Kashmir as “an unfinished agenda of the completion of Pakistan” and said the people and armed forces of Pakistan are “ready to sacrifice anything for their Kashmiri brethren”.
Pakistan’s civilian and military leadership have raised the pitch of their rhetoric since India’s Parliament scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5 and 6;India also decided to split the state into two Union territories — Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. Islamabad has repeatedly talked about the move leading to war. India has said the changes in Kashmir were purely an internal matter and rejected Pakistan’s stance.
“For Pakistan, Kashmir stands as its jugular vein. Altering its status poses challenges to Pakistan’s security and integrity,” Khan said in his message. He accused India of unleashing a “reign of terror” on the Kashmiri people.
Khan said he had called upon the world community to take note of the “doctrine of hate and genocide and push India to stop it forthwith” and to “consider the safety and security of India’s nuclear arsenal”.
“On our part, we as a nation are fully alive to any kind of misadventure by the enemy and will respond… I have informed the world that Pakistan does not want war, but at the same time, Pakistan cannot remain oblivious to the challenges posed to its security and integrity,” he said, adding that Pakistan is “prepared to give the enemy the fullest possible response”.
Both Khan and Bajwa said Pakistan will continue to offer moral, political and diplomatic support to the Kashmiris for their right to self-determination.
Addressing a ceremony in connection with Defence Day at the army’s General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, Bajwa expressed concern at the situation in Kashmir, which he said will remain an “unfinished agenda” till the issue is resolved in line with UN Security Council resolutions and aspirations of the Kashmiris.
“Kashmir is our jugular vein. We will fulfil our commitment towards Kashmir till the last bullet, soldier and breath,” he said.
Khan and Bajwa visited positions along the LoC on Friday, the military’s media wing said in a brief statement. They were accompanied by defence minister Pervez Khattak and foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
During the visit, the leaders interacted with troops and met families of martyrs, the statement said.