ISLAMABAD – Pakistan on Monday cautioned rival India against any military aggression, saying it could spiral into a mutually destructive “final battle” between the nuclear-armed South Asian neighbors.
The warning by Pakistani Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed comes a day after his government formally alleged in a letter to the United Nations that New Delhi was planning to stage a cross-border attack.
“If she [India] dared to threaten our borders, it will turn into the final battle that history will remember,” Rasheed told reporters in Islamabad.
“Temple bells will stop ringing, grass will cease to grow, and birds will stop chirping,” the minister said, implicitly warning of a possible nuclear exchange with India in the event of a war.
Security sources say the Pakistani military, air force and navy have been “put on a high alert,” including the Pakistani-administered part of Kashmir, to guard against any possible “misadventure” by India.
The Indian government has not commented on Pakistani charges that it was plotting a military assault against the country.
The disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, most of which is administered by New Delhi, has sparked two of the three wars and several limited conflicts between India and Pakistan since both gained independence from Britain in 1947.
Islamabad on Friday accused Indian troops of targeting a U.N. vehicle transporting two military observers in Pakistani-ruled Kashmir. It said the two observers escaped unharmed.
The U.N. confirmed the incident, saying it was under investigation.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday denounced the incident as a deliberate attack on the clearly marked U.N vehicle with flying blue flag of the world body.
“I am making absolutely clear to the [international] community that if India was to be reckless enough to conduct a false flag operation against Pakistan, it would confront a strong national Pakistani resolve & be given a befitting response at all levels of the threat. Make no mistake,” Khan tweeted.
On February 26, 2019, Indian fighter planes flew into Pakistan and carried out airstrikes against what New Delhi alleged was a training camp run by a militant group blamed for plotting recent terrorist attacks against Indian security forces in Kashmir.
Islamabad denied the charges as baseless, saying Indian bombs landed in an unpopulated forest area in the Pakistani mountainous town of Balakot.
The next day, Pakistan retaliated with airstrikes of its own, shooting down an Indian plane and capturing its pilot in an ensuing fight over the de facto Kashmir border.
The aerial clash was the first between Pakistan and India in five decades, dangerously escalating tensions to a point where both countries reportedly mobilized their nuclear-capable missiles.
Islamabad returned the pilot two days later, lowering the tensions due to mediation by major powers, including the United States and China.