ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN - Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif warned Thursday that hostile statements against Pakistan by Indian leaders were harming the political atmosphere and taking the two nuclear-armed nations farther away from goals of regional peace and stability.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his cabinet ministers in recent days have repeatedly accused Pakistan of sponsoring terrorist activities in India and stocking a revolt in the disputed Muslim-majority Kashmir region.
The tensions spiked Wednesday when Indian officials claimed their special forces carried out a cross-border raid against militants inside Myanmar and said it was also a message to Pakistan.
Addressing a conference of Pakistani diplomats in Islamabad on Thursday, Sharif warned the rival nation against any such incursion into Pakistan.
“We will protect our vital interest, God willing, at all cost," he said. "This message must be heard loud and clear.”
Sharif reiterated that Pakistan desired a peaceful neighborhood and would stick to its policy of promoting dialogue with India, provided the neighboring country reciprocated and acknowledged Islamabad’s overtures.
“The entire [Pakistani] nation is dismayed by the recent irresponsible and, I must say, imprudent statements from the Indian political leadership," he said. "This vitiates the atmosphere and takes us further away from our goals of regional peace and stability.”
The Pakistani parliament, through a resolution unanimously approved Thursday, also condemned Indian leaders for threatening Pakistan.
A wide-ranging dialogue to normalize bilateral relations and resolve long-running disputes, including Kashmir, remains suspended. And events of recent weeks, critics say, have further dampened hopes for resumption of talks soon.
New Delhi has linked the re-engagement to a speedy and successful prosecution of several suspected Islamist militants being tried in Pakistan for their role in the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks. It also wants Islamabad to cut all ties to Muslim separatist groups in Indian Kashmir.
Pakistan insists that absence of credible evidence is hampering prosecution of the Mumbai suspects and that leaders have no control over the country’s independent judicial process.
Islamabad denies charges it is training or financing militants in Indian Kashmir and maintains Pakistan provides only moral, diplomatic and political support to those agitating against New Dehli’s rule over the divided Himalayan region.