Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Raheel Sharif on Thursday termed India’s ‘surgical strike’ a ‘drama’.
“If Pakistan were to conduct a surgical strike, it would become a chapter in Indian textbooks,” the army chief said.
The army chief, addressing members of a tribal jirga in Khyber Agency’s Bara tehsil said the Pakistan Army is “the strongest force against terrorism”.
“They have eliminated terrorism from Pakistan’s tribal areas,” he said.
“I kept the morale of Pakistan Army up in my time, but I will hand over the reigns to the next chief on Nov 29,” he told members of the jirga.
“We have fought the menace of terrorism together over the years,” the army chief said. “It has woven us eternally in an unbreakable bond.”
“I hope that the relationship between the army and the nation will continue, even after I say goodbye to the Pakistan Army,” he said.
Talking about his post-retirement plans, he said he would like to dedicate his life for the welfare of the families of slain soldiers.
The COAS is set to retire Nov 29 and is spending his last week as army chief on farewell visits around the country.
Tensions between Pakistan and India are running high as the army chief’s tenure comes to an end, with an escalation in ceasefire violations along the Line of Control and Working Boundary. On Wednesday, three soldiers and 10 civilians were killed in shelling by Indian troops near the LoC.
Cross-border firing appears to have become a new normal following an alleged ‘surgical strike’ by India, unrest in Kashmir and the Uri army base attack in September.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stepped up a drive to isolate Pakistan diplomatically after the Uri army base attack in which 19 Indian soldiers were killed. Hours after the attack occurred, Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh termed Pakistan a ‘terrorist state’ and accused Pakistan of involvement.
The Uri attack occurred days before Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was set to address the United Nations General Assembly regarding Indian human rights violations in held Kashmir.
Following the attack, India claimed it had conducted a cross-border ‘surgical strike’ against ‘launch pads of terror’ in Azad Jammu and Kashmir — a claim Pakistan has strongly rejected.
Pakistan maintains that India is attempting to divert the world’s attention away from atrocities committed by government forces in India-held Kashmir.
Pakistan and India have, most recently, locked horns over Kashmir since Indian forces stepped up a crackdown against protesters after Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed by government forces in July.