Lahore, Dec 25: Sabre-rattling from Pakistan reached a new level on Thursday as its Foreign Minister warned India of ‘stern response’ to any surgical strikes and Pakistani armed forces marched towards Jhelum.
Pakistan did not want war but is ready to defend its frontiers, Shah Mahmood Qureshi told reporters in his hometown of Multan. If India made the "mistake of carrying out a surgical strike", Pakistan will deal sternly with such an eventuality. Pakistan has purportedly moved its tenth brigade to Lahore and ordered its third Armed Brigade to march towards Jhelum.
It has also reportedly put its 10th and 11th divisions on high alert. Unconfirmed reports have said militants have also been stationed along with the Army at the said locations.
Also Pakistan's Army has reportedly stationed its troops in the Rajouri and Poonch sectors of J&K.
The move comes a day after Pakistan deployed its Army in place of the regular Pak Rangers along its border with India.
"A lot of military movement is being noticed in districts just across the international border for the last few days, which is not normal," said RC Dhyani, DIG of Rajasthan frontier BSF.
The deployment is an indication of the level of apprehension on the Pakistani side on an Indian attack. It should be noted that the last time Pakistan Rangers were replaced by Army during the Kargil war.
The State government of Rajasthan has ordered the residents of border villages to be prepared for relocation. According to sources, the order came after a meeting of state Director General of Police and Home Secretary with official of the Central government.
Diplomatic relations have gone into a tailspin between the two countries in the aftermath of a deadly terror attack on India’s financial capital Mumbai, believed to have been perpetrated by Pakistan based terrorists.
Meanwhile, after reports of a possible Indian attack on Pakistan, the Pakistan Air Force continued its state of high alert and started aerial surveillance of the Chashma power plant and other sensitive sites.
There were reports of the fighter jets continuing aerial surveillance over the Chashma nuclear power plant and other sensitive sites.
Pakistan had put its airbases on high alert amidst fears of Indian ‘surgical strikes’ in the wake of Mumbai terror attacks.
"We will not resort to provocation while remaining committed to cooperation but at the same time, we will not tolerate any pressure," he remarked. Pakistan, Qureshi said, should "hope for the best but be prepared for the worst".
The country and the armed forces are vigilant and keeping a close watch on developments. "The situation keeps changing and we will prepare a strategy after examining any change," Qureshi underlined. "We are continuously monitoring the situation on the ground and in the air. Our Air Force and armed forces are on alert."
Meanwhile, presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said "some elements in both India and Pakistan" did not want peace between the two neighbours.
"As Pakistan-India relations were improving...Mumbai happened. There are elements on both sides who not want Pakistan-India relations to improve. The Mumbai incident has occurred at that very moment when relations were not only improving but I think a strategic advancement was being made," he told Dawn News channel.
First Published: Thursday, December 25, 2008, 00:00