In a response to Indian Army chief Bipin Rawat’s call for “stern action” to “avenge the kind of barbarism” carried out against Indian soldiers, Pakistan Army on Saturday said it is “ready for war” but chooses peace in the interest of its people and neighbours. In an interview to Dunya TV, Pakistan Army spokesperson Asif Ghafoor said Pakistan has a long-standing record of fighting terrorism and “we know the price [that is paid] for peace.” “Pakistan’s desire for peace should not be mistaken for weakness…War is imposed when you are not ready for it. But we are a nuclear nation and ready,” he said.
Rejecting India’s claim of killing and slitting the throat of one of its jawans in Jammu, the Pakistan Army spokesperson said, “We are a professional army. We never engage in such acts. We have struggled to achieve peace in the last two decades. We can never do anything to disgrace any soldier. They have in the past as well laid the blame on us for mutilating the body of a fallen soldier,” reported Dawn.
Pakistan’s Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry also accused the Indian Army of making “irresponsible” statements to divert attention from its domestic issues. “The Indian government is facing graft scandals at home. And in a bid to divert attention from their domestic issues, the Indian army is hurling irresponsible statements of war,” he said. “The Indian army chief needs to understand that he is not a BJP leader,” Chaudhry remarked, adding that “the world stands witness to who wants war and who wants peace. As a peace-loving nation, Pakistan desires peace [with India].”
On Saturday, calling for a change in strategy between India and Pakistan, Bipin Rawat said, “What we need to do is something which I would not like to say openly, but suffice to say that yes, it is time to give it back to them in the same coin, not by resorting to similar kind of barbarism, but I think the other side must also feel the same pain and, that is something which we certainly will contemplate.”
The war of words between the two countries was triggered after India called off the foreign minister-level talks with Pakistan in New York this month on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. The Indian side cited “two deeply disturbing developments” — the “brutal killings” of security personnel by Pakistan-based entities and the release of postage stamps glorifying Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani as the reasons for cancelling the talks.
Accusing India of “running away” from a dialogue, Ghafoor said, “They [India] should come forward for a dialogue. Whenever attempts for dialogue have failed, it is because India has run away from the table. The government of Pakistan’s offer still stands for India to come forward and hold talks with us.”
While the Indian side called the talks between India and Pakistan “meaningless in such an environment,” Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed disappointment at the “arrogant” and “negative” response of the Indian government. “Disappointed at the arrogant & negative response by India to my call for a resumption of the peace dialogue. However, all my life I have come across small men occupying big offices who do not have the vision to see the larger picture,” Khan tweeted.