By Syed Raza Hassan
KARACHI (Reuters) – Pakistan has “reliable intelligence” that India will attack again this month, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Sunday, as tension over a February standoff between the two nuclear-armed neighbors had appeared to ease.
The attack could take place between April 16 and 20, he said, adding that Pakistan had told the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council of its concerns.
Pakistan had also summoned the Indian deputy high commissioner to protest against any “misadventure”, Pakistani Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal said in a Tweet.
A suicide car bombing by Pakistan-based militants in Indian-controlled Kashmir killed at least 40 Indian paramilitary police on Feb. 14 and the risk of conflict rose dramatically on Feb. 27, when India launched an air strike on what it said was a militant training base.
The following day Pakistan shot down an Indian fighter jet and captured its pilot who was later released.
“We have reliable intelligence that India is planning a new attack on Pakistan. As per our information this could take place between April 16 and 20,” Qureshi told reporters in his hometown of Multan.
He did not elaborate on what evidence Pakistan had or how he could be so specific with the timing, but he said Prime Minister Imran Khan had agreed to share the information with the country.
India’s foreign office didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Khan blamed India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for “whipping up war hysteria” over claims that India shot down a Pakistani F-16 during the February standoff.
India said it, too, had shot down a Pakistani aircraft and the air force displayed pieces of a missile that it said had been fired by a Pakistani F-16 before it went down.
The success of Indian air strikes on a camp of the Jaish-e-Mohammed militant group in northwestern Pakistan has also been thrown into doubt after satellite images showed little sign of damage.
Pakistan closed its airspace amid the standoff but most commercial air traffic has since resumed and major airports have opened.
As a sign of apparently easing tensions, Pakistan said on Friday it would release 360 Indian prisoners this month. The first hundred were released on Sunday.
Due to rocky relations, prisoners who have completed their jail terms, many of them fishermen convicted of straying into each other’s territory, often languish in jails for months, if not years, afterwards.
“These are 100 Indian fishermen released from jail as a goodwill gesture by Pakistan,” Saad Edhi, an official with Pakistan’s largest charity, the Edhi Foundation, told Reuters at Karachi’s Cantonment Railway Station on Sunday.
“They are going to Lahore from where they will be released into India across the Wagha border crossing.”
(This version of the story deletes redundant third paragraph
(Writing by Nick Macfie; Additional reporting by Mayank Bhardwaj in New Delhi; Editing by Kim Coghill)