Indian Army chief Manoj Mukund Naravane on Thursday told NDTV that the Army had “various plans” for operations in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, and was ready for “any task”.
“We have our forces deployed all along the border including Jammu and Kashmir and we have various plans and if required, those plans can be put into action,” he told the news channel. “We will carry out and carry out successfully any task that we are tasked to do.” Asked if the Army can carry out large-scale operations in the occupied territory, the general replied: “Should that be the mandate.”
Naravane’s comments came a day after Islamabad said his statement about India’s “right to preemptively strike at sources of terror” was irresponsible. Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the country’s security forces were prepared for any “aggressive move” by India.
“In the context of situation in IOJ&K [Jammu and Kashmir], we reject the new Indian Army Chief’s irresponsible statement regarding ‘pre-emptive strikes’ across the LoC [Line of Control] inside Azad Jammu and Kashmir [a part of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir],” said the Imran Khan government. “There should be no doubt about Pakistan’s resolve and readiness to thwart any aggressive Indian move, inside its territory or AJ&K. No one should forget Pakistan’s befitting response to India’s Balakot misadventure.”
The foreign ministry said that despite India’s provocations, Pakistan would continue to contribute to efforts to promote peace, security and stability in the region and beyond.
The Balakot airstrike, in which Jaish-e-Mohammed training camps were targetted, came days after militants belonging to the Pakistan-based Islamist organisation killed 40 security personnel in Pulwama on February 14. The Indian government described the airstrike as a “non-military preemptive action”.
On Tuesday, the Indian Army chief had accused Pakistan of using terrorism as an instrument of state policy to carry out a proxy war against India. “There are ceasefire violations, we are aware that there are terrorists on the other side in various launchpads waiting to cross over but we are fully prepared to meet this threat,” he said. Naravane took over as Indian Army chief the same day.