Pakistani Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif addresses the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Sept. 21, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
Pakistan has accused India of an “unprecedented arms build-up” along its border, warning that it would take all steps necessary to halt the move as tensions escalate between the two neighbors.
Addressing the annual United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said Pakistan would “take whatever measures… necessary to maintain credible deterrence.”
Sharif also blamed India for imposing “unacceptable preconditions” for potential peace talks over Kashmir to end the 27-year-long conflict between the two nuclear-armed rivals.
“Talks are in the interests of both countries. They are essential to resolve our differences, especially the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, and to avert the danger of any escalation,” the Pakistani prime minister said.
Tensions have risen after militants attacked an Indian military base in Kashmir, killing nearly 20 Indian soldiers on Sunday. The Indian army has blamed Pakistan-based militants for the assault, while Islamabad has denied any role.
Some Indian politicians and army veterans have called for a muscular response to the assault, including airstrikes on purported training camps on the Pakistani side of the Line of Control (LoC) that divides Kashmir.
Such a scenario would see a serious escalation between the traditional arch-rivals, which have already fought four wars since their partition in 1947.
Indian and Pakistani forces have been engaged in clashes in the disputed valley over the past months and accused each other of provocation.
Indian policemen are seen during a protest in Kashmir’s main city of Srinagar, July 18, 2016. (Photo by Reuters)
In 2003, the two countries agreed to a ceasefire along the LoC in Kashmir and launched peace talks a year later. The process was suspended after over 160 people lost their lives in the 2008 terrorist attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai.
The restive Muslim-majority region has witnessed an increase in mass protests and violent attacks since early July, when Burhan Wani, a top figure in a pro-independence group, was killed in a shootout with Indian troops.
Tens of thousands of government troops have been deployed to the region and nearly 80 people have lost their lives in the ensuing crackdown. The crackdown, however, has failed to halt the protests.