Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Sunday said that Islamabad has information that India will attack it again, Reuters reported. India rejected the statement as irresponsible and said Pakistan was trying to whip up war hysteria in the region, ANI reported.
“We have reliable intelligence that India is planning a new attack on Pakistan” Qureshi told mediapersons in Multan. “As per our information this could take place between April 16 and 20.” Qureshi did not elaborate on the evidence that Pakistan had.
“A new mishap could be staged...And its purpose will be to justify their [India’s] offensive against Pakistan and to increase diplomatic pressure against Islamabad,” Qureshi said, according to PTI. “If it happens, you can imagine the impact of the occurrence on the peace and stability of the region.”
Qureshi added that Pakistan had already briefed the United Nations Security Council’s permanent members over the matter. “We want the international community to take notice of this irresponsible behaviour and reprimand them [India] for taking this route,” he said, adding that India’s action could have an impact on the region’s peace and stability.
The Opposition party in Pakistan, the Pakistan Peoples Party, however, said, “The government has failed to deliver and now using the threat of war by India to distract public attention from issues faced by the people.”
“This public gimmick appears to be a call to Pak-based terrorists to undertake terror attack in India,” India’s Ministry of External Affairs said in response, adding that Pakistan has been advised to use the established diplomatic channels to “share actionable and credible intelligence” it has about terror attacks. “India reserves the right to respond firmly and decisively to cross-border terrorist attack.”
Ties between the two countries have been strained since a suicide bomber killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama on February 14. Pakistan based Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed responsibility for the attack. On February 26, India claimed to have carried out air strikes on a Jaish-e-Mohammad camp in Pakistan’s Balakot. A day after the cross-border strike, India and Pakistan engaged in aerial skirmishes.
On February 27, the Pakistani military claimed it had shot down two Indian Air Force jets – one had crashed in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and the other fell in Jammu and Kashmir. India maintained that Pakistan shot down only one MiG-21 aircraft while the Indian Air Force shot down a Pakistani F-16 jet during the dogfight.
During the same skirmish, Pakistan had captured Indian Air Force pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who was released and returned home on March 1.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan had on Saturday accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of “whipping up war hysteria” to win the Lok Sabha elections. “The truth always prevails and is always the best policy,” Khan tweeted. “BJP’s attempt to win elections through whipping up war hysteria and false claims of downing a Pakistani F-16 has backfired with US Defence officials also confirming that no F-16 was missing from Pakistan’s fleet.”
Khan’s comments came days after the Foreign Policy magazine, citing two unidentified US senior defence officials, claimed that India’s assertion about shooting down the Pakistan F-16 fighter aircraft was untrue. But the Indian Air Force and the defence ministry have dismissed the report.