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Pakistan Rebukes India's Modi Over 'War-Mongering' Remarks


FILE - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (2-R) arrives to attend a military ceremony as part of Republic Day celebrations, in New Delhi, India, Jan. 29, 2020.

Pakistan has harshly criticized rival India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a day after he boasted his military could inflict a defeat on the neighboring country within 10 days.

A Pakistani Foreign Ministry statement said Wednesday that Modi’s “irresponsible and war-mongering” remarks reflected India’s “incurable obsession” with Pakistan and an attempt to divert attention from growing internal challenges facing the Indian leadership.

"We urge the international community to take cognizance of the Indian leadership’s continuing belligerent rhetoric and aggressive measures, which pose a threat to regional peace and security,” the statement said.

Tensions between India and Pakistan remain high over the Kashmir territorial dispute, which brought the two nuclear-armed nations close to a fourth war last February.

"Pakistan has already lost three wars. Our armed forces will not take more than 7-10 days to make Pakistan bite the dust," Modi was quoted as telling military officers in New Delhi on Tuesday.

His comments come as Modi's ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) faces increasing domestic and international pressure amid an economic slowdown and after weeks of ongoing protests against a new citizenship law that critics say discriminates against India’s Muslim minority.

The BJP government’s decision to unilaterally scrap the special constitutional autonomous status for the Indian-ruled part of Kashmir last August and place the Muslim-majority region under months of security lockdown have also drawn international criticism.

Islamabad swiftly denounced the Kashmir-related measures, saying it is an internationally recognized dispute under United Nations resolutions and neither country can unilaterally change the status.

Pakistan has since downgraded an already strained bilateral relationship, fueling mutual tensions and sparking almost daily military skirmishes across the Kashmir cease-fire line. Both countries control parts of the Himalayan region and claim it in full.

In his Tuesday speech, Modi cited a 2016 Indian cross-border military operation or so-called “surgical strike" in the Pakistan-administered part of Kashmir and last year’s airstrikes against alleged militant training camps in the Pakistani city of Balakot, as evidence of New Delhi’s military readiness.

The Pakistani military had dismissed as “fictitious” Indian claims of conducting any cross-border Kashmir operation and denied the existence of militant camps in Balakot. The Indian airstrike triggered a similar Pakistani response, leading to a rare aerial dogfight. Pakistani jets brought down an Indian plane and captured its pilot before releasing him two days later, bringing the two countries back from the brink of war.

“Pakistan’s immediate and effective response to India’s Balakot misadventure, including the downing of Indian fighter aircraft and capture of Indian pilot last year, should suffice to underscore the will, capacity and preparedness of our armed forces,” warned the Pakistani Foreign Ministry Wednesday.

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