Defense minister claims Army will defend homeland if India cross international border.
Pakistan will respond “with full force” if India continues to target the civilian population, Islamabad’s defense minister said Saturday, after 13 people died when the rivals traded fire across their disputed border.
Nine died near Sialkot in Pakistan, and more than 40 were wounded on Friday, less than a week after high-level talks were aborted amid a row over Kashmir. India said at least four villagers were killed in Indian-administered Kashmir by Pakistani fire.
“We will counter this situation on all levels. If war is forced on us we will take good care of them,” Defense Minister Khawaja Asif told AFP. “Absolutely we have the right to retaliate, and retaliate in kind, retaliate in full force,” Asif said after he visited the wounded in hospital. He added: “If India crosses the international border and aggression is committed again, we will defend our homeland and inflict much more damage than 1965.”
The 1965 war between the two countries took place over two weeks in September, and each Sept. 6 Pakistani media eulogizes the Army for thwarting Indian “aggression.”
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif would raise the issue of continued aggression at a U.N. General Assembly session next month, Asif said.
A meeting between the Indian and Pakistani national security advisers in New Delhi on Sunday was called off at the last minute following a dispute about whether the agenda should include Kashmir, the Himalayan territory both sides control in part but claim in full. The two sides regularly fire shells and mortars across the disputed border both in Kashmir and to the south in Punjab, killing civilians.
Pakistan and India have fought two of their three wars over the Himalayan region since both gained independence in 1947, and it remains a major source of tension. About a dozen militant groups have been fighting since 1989 for either the independence of the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir or its merger with Pakistan.
Shelling across the de facto border, known as the Line of Control (LoC) in disputed Kashmir and the “working boundary” in Punjab, has been on the rise this month.