International

Pakistan still in denial mode on India’s surgical strikes

BJP cadres celebrate after India carriied out surgical strikes across Line of Control, in Siliguri on Friday. Photo: AFP

BJP cadres celebrate after India carriied out surgical strikes across Line of Control, in Siliguri on Friday. Photo: AFP  

However, a series of official meetings indicate that Indian Army's mission was being taken far more seriously than government and military would admit.

A day after >Indian special forces struck terror launch pads across the Line of Control >, Pakistan on Friday continued to deny the LoC operation, maintaining that there was only an escalation of firing at the LoC.

However, a series of official meetings indicated that the LoC mission by the Indian Army was being taken far more seriously than the government and military would admit. “No one will be allowed to cast an evil eye on Pakistan,” Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said, in an obvious reference to India during a Cabinet meeting convened hurriedly to review the LoC violence.

Next Wednesday, the Pakistani government has convened a special joint session of Parliament, which will be preceded by a National Security Committee meeting on Tuesday, for which Mr. Sharif has extended a special invitation to all the chief ministers to speak about the LoC situation.

“No one will be allowed to cast an evil eye on Pakistan,” Mr. Sharif said, in an obvious reference to India, during a Cabinet meeting convened hurriedly to review the LoC violence.

In New York, the Pakistani envoy met U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council president in an effort to have the LoC tensions taken up at the world body.

On Friday, Pakistan’s Army Chief Raheel Sharif issued a statement, referring to the commando mission in which the Indian Army said at least eight terror launch pads were attacked, killing many terrorists on the Pakistani side of the Line of Control, as “malicious propaganda.”

The statement warned India against any misadventure. A release said: “The highest state of vigil is being maintained along LoC/WB and all along the international border.”

Indian claim frivolous, Pak. tells envoys

The Pakistani DG Military Operations and the Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhury briefed ambassadors of the P-5 UNSC member countries, the Foreign Ministry said, calling the LoC operation a “frivolous Indian claim.”

“Pakistan is in denial mode as they can’t afford to be seen accepting that Indian troops came into territory they control,” says a senior government official watching Islamabad’s reactions closely, “But then what explains this series of meetings they are holding?” Another official suggested that the government was buying time so the military could complete enquiry into Indian commando operations on September 29 and plan response.

Briefing foreign envoys and journalists in New Delhi on Thursday, an MEA official said, “We know what Pakistan’s first response to the announcement is. But we also know that may not be its last response to the [cross-LoC commando operations].” In Pakistan, newspapers and TV channels appeared to close flanks with the government on the LoC strikes with the Dawn newspaper frontpaging a story asking “Was there a surgical strike?”, and The Express Tribune called the operation a “Surgical farce.”

“All newspapers, all civilian leaders are standing with the Army so far,” said noted anchor and defence correspondent Wajahat S. Khan, and referred to media running stories that Indian soldiers were captured or killed during operations.

On possible response

Asked about the possible military response, Mr. Khan said there was speculation that the “2003 ceasefire will be rubbished, which means extensive action on the Line of Control,” adding that the Pakistan Army actions in the next few weeks would have a direct bearing on how soon to retire Army Chief Raheel Sharif’s “larger than life legacy” would be seen in the country.

Pakistani military experts said they remained sceptical of the commando troops’ story unless photographic evidence was produced, and sought to play down the operation’s scale. “A few hundred meters across the LoC is no big deal, but a deep penetration, let’s say beyond 10 km would result in a similar response from Pakistan,” former National Security Adviser Maj-Gen (Retd.) Mahmud Ali Durrani said.

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