Pakistan rejects new Indian army chief’s ‘irresponsible statement on pre-emptive strikes across LoC’

Pakistan on Wednesday rejected the new Indian Army Chief Lt Gen MM Naravane’s “irresponsible statement” regarding “pre-emptive strikes” across the Line of Control (LoC) in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).

In a press release, the Foreign Office (FO) said: “There should be no doubt about Pakistan’s resolve and readiness to thwart against any aggressive Indian move, inside its territory or AJ&K. No one should forget Pakistan’s befitting response to India’s Balakot misadventure.

“Despite India’s provocations, Pakistan will continue contributing to all efforts of promoting peace, security and stability in the region and beyond.”

Gen Naravane, who was appointed as India’s 28th army chief on Tuesday, barely hours after taking charge said that New Delhi “reserves the right to preemptively strike across the Line of Control (LoC)”, First Post reported.

According to the report, in an exclusive interview with the Press Trust of India, the newly appointed army chief said: “If Pakistan does not stop its policy of state-sponsored terrorism, we reserve the right to preemptively strike at the sources of terror threat and this intent has adequately been demonstrated in our response during surgical strikes and Balakot operation.”

Gen Naravane said a “strategy of resolute punitive response” has been evolved to tackle cross-border terrorism,” Hindustan Times added.

According to HT, Gen Naravane served as India’s vice-chief of the army prior to his new appointment. Additionally, he has served in various command and staff appointments in peace, field and “highly active counter-insurgency environments” in occupied Kashmir and the northeast, the report added.

He also headed the force’s Eastern Command and commanded a Rashtriya Rifles battalion in occupied Kashmir and an infantry brigade on the eastern front.

Gen Naravane took over as the army chief after former army chief Gen Bipin Rawat was appointed as India’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), a day before his superannuation.

Last month, Rawat had said that the situation at the restive LoC could “escalate any time”. In response, Inter-Services Public Relations Director General Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor had termed Rawat’s remarks an “effort, as usual, to divert world attention from widespread protests” over the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) in India.

150 days of clampdown in occupied Kashmir

While rejecting the latest remarks from the newly-appointed Indian army chief, the FO added: “We deplore the continuing proclivity of Indian political as well as military leaders to fabricate facts with regard to terrorism or the situation along the Line of Control (LoC) as part of their attempts to mislead the world and with the possible intention of staging some false-flag operation.

“They would be well-advised to look inwards and curb the growing ‘saffron terror’, which is increasingly a matter of concern for the international community.”

The FO reaffirmed Pakistan’s “unflinching support and solidarity” with Kashmiris as the lockdown imposed by the Indian government in occupied Kashmir on August 5, 2019, crossed 150 days, with the security and communication clampdown also continuing in full force.

“India’s farcical claims of normalcy returning to the situation in IOJ&K carry no credibility whatsoever. We will continue to stress the importance of urgent and effective steps by the world community to address India’s state-terrorism against the Kashmiri people, who are demanding their legitimate right of self-determination as enshrined in the United National Security Council Resolutions,” the press release read.

The FO said India “must immediately” lift the lockdown and communications restrictions in occupied Kashmir, free all detainees, release senior Kashmiri leadership, remove all draconian laws, withdraw 900,000 security personnel and allow “unhindered access” to international humanitarian and human rights observers as well as the international media.

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