Pakistan got a strong warning from India that it would have to suffer “unaffordable costs” for its “adventurism” amid heavy-duty mortars from both countries continuing to boom across the International Border (IB). This attracted an aggressive response from Pakistan which invoked its nuclear arsenal and called a meeting of its national security council to review its options.
After retaliation from Indian troops, the Line of Control (LoC) remained relatively quiet for the second day running on Thursday; however there was a step-up in the cross-border mortar duels. In a departure from the practice of firing mainly during the nights, Pakistan began launching shells at villages in Arnia and RS Pura sectors along the IB right since the morning on Thursday that injured five civilians and three BSF jawans. In return, BSF let loose over mortar shells into Pakistan.
Underlining the Modi government’s hard-line approach, the defence minister Arun Jaitley accused Pakistan of “clearly being aggressor” with its series of “unprovoked” ceasefire violations. He said, “But forces will make the cost of this adventurism unaffordable.”
PM Narendra Modi, who is campaigning in Baramati, Maharashtra, also asserted that cross-border hostility would continue to be met with “courage” from the Indian armed forces.
Modi said, “Today when bullets are being fired on the border, it’s the enemy that is screaming. Our jawans have responded to the regression with courage. The enemy has realised that times have changed and their old habits will not be tolerated. People know my intentions and I need not express those in words. When the jawans have to speak, they speak with their fingers on the trigger, and they will continue to speak that way.”
Maintaining an aggressive stance with PM Nawaz Sharif, the Pakistan government called a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) on Friday to “discuss the recent ceasefire violations by India” on the border. Their defence minister Khwaja Asif wheeled out the N-card.
“We do not want the situation on the borders of two nuclear neighbours to escalate into confrontation. India must demonstrate caution and behave with responsibility.” Asif said in what was seen by many as a ploy to get the international community lean on India by raising the scare of a full-scale conflict between the nuclear-armed estranged neighbours.
From either side, with no signs on any let up in the offensive, the possibility of de-escalation anytime soon seems dim. Jaitley said, “How can you talk when firing is on? As long as that continues, how can there be peace? Our armed forces, particularly the Army and BSF, have only one option and that is to respond adequately and defend our territory and our people.”
“The offer of peace has to come from Pakistan. We are not the aggressor here. We have inflicted heavy damage on them but they keep firing. I do not understand why. This is akin to getting beaten up by the wrestler repeatedly but not leaving the ring.”
While both countries are concentrating their firepower along the IB, the civilians are getting severely affected!