Officials in India dismissed as “irresponsible and preposterous” on Sunday a claim by Pakistan’s foreign minister that New Delhi is plotting military action against Pakistan later this month.
In recent weeks, tensions between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan have escalated over the Himalayan Muslim-majority region of Kashmir, which both countries claim in its entirety.
A deadly February 14 terrorist attack in India-administered Kashmir’s Pulwama region — claimed by a Pakistan-based group — brought India and Pakistan to the brink of war, triggering reciprocal air operations by the two rivals, including a brief dog fight.
On Sunday, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi claimed that Islamabad has “reliable intelligence” that India is planning fresh attacks against Pakistan between April 16 and 20, the Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported.
At a press conference, Pakistan’s FM reportedly declared:
I am speaking responsibly, I hold a position of responsibility, and I know the words I utter will be picked up by the international media. Preparations are being made, and there are chances of another attack against Pakistan.
According to our information, the action could be taken between April 16 and 20.
A new mishap could be staged in Indian-occupied Kashmir, just like [the] Pulwama [attack]. And its purpose will be to justify their [India’s] offensive against Pakistan and to increase diplomatic pressure against Islamabad.
Indian officials denied the allegations within hours after Qureshi made the claims.
Raveesh Kumar, a spokesperson for India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), denounced the Pakistani FM’s allegations as false during a press conference Sunday, the Hindu reported.
“India rejects the irresponsible and preposterous statement by the Foreign Minister of Pakistan with a clear objective of whipping up war hysteria in the region. This public gimmick appears to be a call to Pakistan-based terrorists to undertake a terror attack in India,” Kumar proclaimed.
Despite a 2003 ceasefire, India and Pakistan regularly clash along the unofficial border known as the Line of Control (LOC) that separates Kashmir in two — New Delhi-administered and Pakistan-held territories.
Pakistan has ceded some of its Kashmir lands to its ally China. India contests China’s claims to territories on its side of the LOC.
Beijing tends to stay in the shadows of India-Pakistan territorial disputes in Kashmir, quietly backing Islamabad’s position.
Kashmir has surfaced as a top issue in the Indian general elections scheduled to start April 11.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ultra Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are expected to benefit from India’s confrontations with Muslim-majority Pakistan.
Although the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) organization has claimed responsibility for the Valentine’s Day attack that killed more than 40 Indian security forces in Kashmir, Islamabad has asked New Delhi to provide more evidence of the Pakistan-based group’s involvement in the assault.
Pakistan denies accusations by the United States, India, and Afghanistan that it serves as a sanctuary for terrorist groups like JeM.
The militaries of both India and Pakistan have reportedly been on high alert since the JeM attack in Pulwama. Both rivals have deployed reinforcements to the region.