Pakistan on Monday criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his remarks on Indian nuclear capability and described them as “unfortunate and irresponsible”. Islamabad said that “such nuclear brinksmanship” needs to be discouraged and highlighted a need for negotiations on confidence building and restraint measures.

On Sunday, Modi had said that his government had refused to be intimidated by Pakistan’s nuclear threats and that with the Balakot air strike, India had given Pakistan a “fitting reply”.

A statement by Pakistan’s Foreign Office referred to Modi’s statement as “rhetoric for short-term political and electoral gains with complete disregard to its effects on strategic stability in South Asia is regrettable and against norms of responsible nuclear behaviour”.

“We would also like to draw attention to the remarks of the Indian Prime Minister, sensationally referring to the night of February 27 and the missile related threat from India as ‘Qatal ki Raat’ [the night of murder],” the statement said. “It clearly contradicts the position of Indian officials, who had tried to give an impression that there were no such plans of India and instead had blamed Pakistan for ‘whipping up war hysteria’.”

Modi had made the comments on nuclear capability during a rally in Barmer district of Rajasthan. “What do we have then? Have we kept our nuclear bomb for Diwali?” Modi had said. The prime minister had said that his government had made the terrorists afraid from across the border and the results of it were visible as there were no blasts anywhere in the country in the last five years.

Opposition parties criticise PM Modi

The Congress, National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party criticised Modi for his comments.

Peoples Democratic Party chief and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti rebuked Modi for bragging about India’s nuclear capability. She accused Modi of “stooping low” and lowering the country’s political discourse. Mufti said, “If India has not kept nuclear bomb for Diwali, it is obvious Pakistan’s not kept theirs for Eid either. Do not know why PM Modi must stoop so low and reduce political discourse to this.”

Mufti said it was “amusing and baffling” to be trolled by the “right wing”. “Does one have to be enthusiastic about nuclear war to earn the credentials of a true patriot?” Mufti tweeted. “Disturbing that [Mahatma] Gandhi’s India is baying for blood.”

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah targeted Modi and Mufti in his criticism. “Whether Diwali or Eid, both PM Modi and Ms Mufti have used the threat of nuclear annihilation as some sort of PUBG type game where they can just hit the reset button and life will carry on,” Abdullah said. “Both of them would be well served to remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki when issuing such threats.”

Congress leader Anand Sharma said Modi’s speeches are indicative of a desperation in the BJP. “Prime Minister’s boastful claims of being ready for a nuclear missile attack on Pakistan and US intervention are uncalled for and not in interest of national security,” Sharma said. “It will be a sad moment that India is globally judged and you are equated with [North Korean leader] Kim Jong-un for making threatening statements of nuclear strike.”