ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN - Pakistan charged Friday that its archrival India was plotting to stage a cross-border military assault against the Islamic nation, warning such an attempt would destabilize the region with “catastrophic consequences.”
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi cited “credible intelligence information” Islamabad had “picked up,” saying it had been shared with “important world capitals.” He did not name any country, nor did he offer any evidence to support the claim.
“I want to tell India very clearly that Pakistan is fully prepared to respond and to defeat their designs. We will do it effectively,” Qureshi told a news conference in the United Arab Emirates at the end of his two-day official bilateral visit.
Qureshi alleged the Indian government was orchestrating the attack to divert attention from domestic troubles facing India and urged the international community to intervene to prevent New Delhi from destabilizing the region.
India has not immediately responded to the charges.
Islamabad has repeatedly put out such warnings since New Delhi revoked the semiautonomous status of disputed Kashmir in August 2019, escalating military tensions between the two countries.
The nuclear-armed neighboring countries both claim the Himalayan region in its entirety and have fought several wars as well as limited conflicts over Kashmir since gaining independence from Britain in 1947.
UN vehicle hit
Pakistan’s military on Friday also accused Indian border forces of “deliberately” targeting a U.N. vehicle transporting the world body’s military observers in Pakistani-administered Kashmir.
The vehicle was damaged, but the two U.N. military officers escaped unharmed and were evacuated to safety by Pakistani troops.
“The U.N. vehicles are clearly recognizable even from long distances due to their distinct make and type and clearly visible markings,” the statement said.
Indian media quoted unnamed military officials as denying the allegations, saying reports emerging from the Pakistani side of Kashmir regarding the attack on U.N. vehicles were “completely false and factually incorrect.”
Afghan peace process threatened
Qureshi also warned Friday that any military conflict between Pakistan and India could derail the peace prospects in neighboring Afghanistan.
“If they undertake this misadventure, it will seriously undermine the Afghan peace process which has moved forward, and if things go wrong India will be held responsible for this,” the Pakistani foreign minister cautioned.
The United States has been pressing the Afghan Taliban and the government in Afghanistan to reduce violence and move quickly to negotiate a political settlement to their country’s long war.
U.S. and allied forces are withdrawing from the 19-year Afghan war, the longest in U.S. history.
Pakistan is credited with helping Washington initiate the two-year-old Afghan peace process.
Top Taliban leaders this week arrived in Islamabad from Doha, Qatar, where the insurgent group maintains its political office, for official meetings with Pakistani leaders.
The delegation met with Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday. A post-meeting statement quoted Khan as underscoring Pakistan’s “consistent” support for efforts aimed at ending war in Afghanistan.
“The prime minister expressed concern over the high level of violence and called on all sides for reduction in violence leading to cease-fire,” it said.