Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday said that Pakistan will not hesitate to use nuclear weapons against India if it finds itself losing a conventional war. However, he added that neither country can afford a full-scale war, PTI reported.

The chief minister told reporters in Amritsar that it is not in either country’s interest to use its nuclear arsenal, but added that Islamabad could “indulge in such a misadventure if faced with defeat in other battles”.

Singh refused to speculate about the number of terrorists killed by the Indian Air Force’s strikes in Pakistan’s Balakot on February 26. “Whether it was one killed or 100, the message had gone out loud and clear India will not let the killing of its innocent soldiers and citizens go unpunished,” he said.

The chief minister contended that Pakistan cannot afford a war with India because of the poor condition of its economy. Singh said Islamabad is “going around with a begging bowl and surviving on doles from other Islamic nations”. Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman had visited Pakistan last month, and signed agreements to invest $20 billion (Rs 1.41 lakh crore) in the cash-strapped country.

Punjab minister and Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu had earlier on Monday asked the Narendra Modi-led government if the Balakot air strikes were a “poll gimmick”. “300 terrorist dead, Yes or No?” tweeted Sidhu. “What was the purpose then? Were you uprooting terrorist or trees? Was it an election gimmick?” he said.