Pakistan has criticised Defence Minister Rajnath Singh's remarks that India is ready to cross the Line of Control (LoC) to maintain its honour and dignity, saying the "belligerent rhetoric" is a threat to regional peace and stability.
Speaking at the Kargil War Memorial in Ladakh's Drass town on the occasion of the 24th Kargil Vijay Diwas on Wednesday, Singh said no compromise will be made in protecting the sovereignty, unity and integrity of the country.
"We can go to any extreme to maintain the honour and dignity of the country...if that includes crossing the LoC, we are ready to do that...if we are provoked and if the need arises, we will cross the LoC," Singh said.
"The Kargil war was imposed on India. At that time, India had tried to solve the issues with Pakistan through talks... we are backstabbed by Pakistan," he said, adding that the armed forces have been given a free hand to eliminate the "nation's enemies". Responding to Singh's remarks, the Foreign Office in Islamabad said Pakistan is fully capable of defending itself against any aggression.
"We counsel India to exercise utmost caution as its belligerent rhetoric is a threat to the regional peace and stability, and contributes to destabilising the strategic environment in South Asia,” it said in a statement on Wednesday. This is not the first time that India’s political leaders and senior military officers have made "highly irresponsible" remarks about Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, it said.
Relations between India and Pakistan have often been strained over the Kashmir issue and cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan. However, the ties between the two countries nosedived after India abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution, revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcating it into two Union Territories on August 5, 2019.
India’s decision evoked strong reactions from Pakistan, which downgraded diplomatic ties and expelled the Indian envoy. India has repeatedly told Pakistan that Jammu and Kashmir was, is and shall forever remain an integral part of the country. India has said it desires normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan in an environment free of terror, hostility and violence.