ISLAMABAD – Pakistan denounced Tuesday as “completely” baseless rival India’s latest allegations that hundreds of militants were waiting to “infiltrate” into Kashmir from the Pakistani side of the disputed Himalayan region.
Indian army chief Gen. Bipin Rawat alleged on Monday that the “terror camps” India’s air force had destroyed earlier this year in a cross-border attack in the Pakistani town of Balakot have been reactivated. The general also asserted that “at least 500 persons” from these camps were waiting to infiltrate into India.
The Pakistani government slammed the Indian military chief for threatening regional peace by making “irresponsible” statements
It is “a desperate attempt” by India to divert international attention from the humanitarian nightmare… being perpetrated by Indian occupation forces” in the Indian-administered Kashmir, the Pakistani foreign ministry said.
In its separate statement, the Pakistani military warned India’s unfounded allegations could be a ploy for “a false flag” cross-border operation “which if tried shall have serious consequences for regional peace.”
Tensions have escalated between India and Pakistan since August 5 when New Delhi abolished a decades-old constitutional autonomy for its part of the divided Kashmir. Authorities also have since placed India’s only Muslim-majority state under curfew restrictions and a communications blackout to counter violent reaction from Kashmiris to its actions.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in a meeting on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly Monday urged U.S. President Donald Trump to use Washington’s influence to help end India’s “siege” of Kashmir.
Trump told reporters at the start of the meeting with Khan that he hoped India and Pakistan could work together to resolve their differences over Kashmir. The president, who is scheduled to meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi later this week, reiterated to Khan that he would be willing to mediate between the two countries.
“I would be willing to help if both wanted. If both Pakistan, let’s say, and India wanted me to do that, I am ready, willing, and able. It’s a complex issue. It’s been going on for a long time,” Trump said.
Khan told Trump that Kashmir was facing a humanitarian crisis and it could get much worse unless India lifted its weeks of siege.
“Mr. President, I was going to raise it in private, but it needs to be said that, for 50 days, 8 million people are under siege by 900,000 troops. And it’s a humanitarian issue. And so I was going to say that — were you supposed to meet Narendra Modi now, I would’ve asked you to at least lift the siege,” Khan insisted.
The territorial Kashmir dispute has sparked two of the three wars between India and Pakistan since they both gained Independence from Britain in 1947 and it remains at the center of bilateral military tensions.
Indian fighter planes on February 26 carried out a cross-border airstrike in Balakot against what New Delhi alleged were training camps run by a Pakistani militant group responsible for plotting terrorist attacks in India.
Pakistan swiftly rejected the allegations as baseless and retaliated within hours by shooting down an Indian aircraft and captured its pilot who was later released to India, bringing back the two nuclear-armed rival nations from the brink of another war.