Muzaffarabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has admitted that the Indian Air Force (IAF) carried out airstrikes in Balakot targeting several terror training camps even as he accused India of planning a more deadly military action in the Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK).
Addressing a special session of the PoK Legislative Assembly in Muzaffarabad as Pakistan marked its Independence Day "in solidarity with Kashmiris", Imran Khan said, ''India planned more extensive action than that of February, when its fighter jets struck inside Pakistan, following a dramatic escalation in tension between the rivals.''
"They have made a more horrendous plan to divert world attention from their recent move in Jammu and Kashmir, they plan action in Azad Kashmir," the Pakistani PM said while referring to PoK. Khan, however, warned that "The Pakistani army is fully aware that they (India) have made a plan of taking action in Azad Kashmir (PoK)."
Earlier on Wednesday, Imran Khan had travelled to Muzaffarabad, the capital of PoK, making his first visit to the region since becoming Pakistan's leader in 2018.
During his address, he also warned India against any "misadventure" in Pakistan, saying "miscalculation" on the part of New Delhi would elicit a "tit-for-tat" response from Islamabad.
The remarks from the Pakistani leader came amid heightening tensions between the two neighbours following India's move to revoke Article 370 granting special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
"We have information and we have had two National Security Committee meetings. The Pakistan Army has full knowledge that India has made a plan to take action in PoK," he said
"Like the action which they took in Balakot after Pulwama, according to our information, they have made a more sinister plan now. To shift the world's focus away from Kashmir, they want to take action in PoK," he said.
In a message to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the cricketer-turned-politician said, "... you take action and every brick will be countered with a stone. The Pakistan Army is battle-hardened and it is fully ready to respond to any violation by India. The entire nation is ready and stands alongside its armed forces.''
"A Muslim never initiates war. We are ready to respond to any (misadventure) by India. Kashmiris are also battle-hardened and they have no fear. We will respond to whatever you do - we will go till the end," he said in the address.
Calling India's move on Kashmir a "strategic blunder", the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief said, ''It will cost Modi and his BJP government heavily. I consider it a big miscalculation by Modi. He has played his final card."
He said it was a challenging task to draw the attention of world leaders to the "human rights violations in Kashmir, PM Modi has in fact helped internationalise the issue," Khan said.
"If a war breaks out, I'm saying this to the UN, you'll be responsible... This is now the UN's trial. The entire Muslim world is looking at the UN (to play its role). The UN must listen to 1.5 billion Muslims who are looking up to the global body for taking action against India which has turned Kashmir into a prison for 10 million Kashmiris," Khan said.
In his Independence Day message, Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa too said, "there can never be a compromise on Kashmir".
President Arif Alvi, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) President Shehbaz Sharif, Pakistan Peoples Party chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and several Pakistani politicians also expressed "solidarity with the Kashmiris", saying Pakistan stands "shoulder to shoulder" with them.
It may be recalled that India abrogated Article 370, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir on August 5 and imposed certain restrictions in order to maintain law and order and peace in the region.
Islamabad retaliated by suspending bilateral trade and all public transport links with India, as well as expelling New Delhi`s ambassador to Islamabad.