India’s ‘surgical strike’ claim in Kashmir dismissed by Pakistan
New Delhi’s deadly cross-border raid in Kashmir didn’t happen, according to Islamabad
Pakistan has “completely rejected” India’s claim to have sent troops across its disputed border in Kashmir to kill suspected militants, as India evacuated villages near the frontier amid concerns about a military escalation.
In a rare public announcement of such a raid, New Delhi said it had carried out “surgical strikes” on Thursday, sending special forces to kill men preparing to sneak into its territory and attack major cities.
Indian officials said troops killed militants numbering in the double digits and its soldiers returned safely to base before dawn, but declined to provide any evidence of the operation.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said India fired unprovoked from its side of the heavily militarised frontier in the disputed region of Kashmir, the reason for two of three wars between the nuclear-armed neighbours, and killed two soldiers.
“The cabinet joined the prime minister in completely rejecting the Indian claims of carrying out ‘surgical strikes’,” Sharif’s office said. He said the country was ready “to counter any aggressive Indian designs”.
Domestic pressure had been building on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to retaliate after 19 soldiers were killed in a September 18 attack on an Indian army base in Kashmir that New Delhi blames on infiltrators from Pakistani territory.
A member of Modi’s ruling party declared himself satisfied with India’s “multi-pronged” response to the army base attack.
“For Pakistan, terrorism has come as a cheaper option all these years. Time to make it costly,” wrote Ram Madhav, national general secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party, in the Indian Express.
While India’s public and politicians have welcomed the operation, Pakistan greeted New Delhi’s version of events with scepticism and ridicule.
Television news channels and newspapers reported only small arms and mortar fire – a routine occurrence at the border.
Rising tensions have hit cultural ties. Pakistani cinemas have stopped screening Indian films in “solidarity” with the armed forces, and after an Indian filmmakers’ group banned its members from hiring Pakistani actors.
India’s Kashmir raid raised the possibility of military escalation that could wreck a 2003 ceasefire.