Islamabad has rejected claims by New Delhi that Indian commandos carried out strikes on “terrorist” targets inside Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
Indian sources said on Thursday that the commandos had carried out “surgical strikes” several kilometers inside Kashmir. New Delhi has evacuated villages near the frontier amid concerns about a military escalation.
The office of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said in a statement issued after an emergency cabinet meeting on Friday that the cabinet “joined the prime minister in completely rejecting the Indian claims.” The statement added that Islamabad was ready “to counter any aggressive Indian designs.”
During the Pakistani cabinet meeting, Sharif said Pakistan’s commitment to peace and stability “must not be construed as weakness.”
The United Nations has urged both sides to exercise self-restraint, saying it is watching the situation “with great concern.”
Sharif said Indian forces had opened unprovoked fire on Pakistani soldiers.
Islamabad said its troops had captured an Indian soldier on the Pakistani side of Line of Control (LoC). India said the incident was unrelated to the strikes as the man had inadvertently stepped across the frontier.
Pakistan, India leaders face domestic pressure
Nawaz Sharif and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are both under pressure at home.
Thousands of protesters gathered in the town of Raiwind to stage a rally near Sharif’s residence.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan had called for the protest as part of the party’s continuous demonstrations across the country to mount pressure on Sharif’s family over numerous corruption allegations.
In India, Modi has also been under pressure over the September 18 deadly militant attack on an Indian army base in the town of Uri in Muslim-dominated Indian-controlled Kashmir.
India blames Pakistan for the attack. Pakistan denies the accusation.At least 19 Indian soldiers were killed in the attack.
Modi and his Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party rose to power in India vowing to take a tough stance against arch-rival Pakistan.
The Modi administration has also launched a heavy-handed crackdown on dissent in Indian-controlled Kashmir.
Islamabad has repeatedly accused New Delhi of committing human rights abuses in Kashmir.
India has ordered the evacuation of more than 10,000 villagers living near the border. It has also tasked security forces with upgrading surveillance along the frontier in Jammu and Kashmir state, where hundreds of villages are being cleared along a 15-kilometer strip in the lowland region of Jammu.
“Our top priority is to move women and children to government buildings, guest houses and marriage halls,” said Nirmal Singh, deputy chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir.
Modi’s government has also been making efforts to isolate Pakistan in the international level.
The 19th Summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was scheduled to take place in Islamabad in November with India in attendance.
However, India announced on September 27 that it would not attend the summit prompting Pakistan to announce that it was postponing the summit and fresh dates would be released soon.
In a press release, the office of Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said, “A new set of dates for holding of the 19th SAARC Summit at Islamabad will be announced soon.”