Army chief warns against ‘aggression’ amid Kashmir tensions

KAKUL: Army chief General Raheel Sharif vowed Saturday to thwart any “aggression” against the country, in a thinly-veiled warning to arch rival India after a spate of deadly cross-border firing incidents in Kashmir.
At least 12 civilians have been killed on the Pakistani side and thousands on both sides of the de facto border have fled their homes since October 6, which marked the beginning of some of the worst frontier shelling in years.
“Sentiments of goodwill and amity notwithstanding, let there be no doubt that any aggression against our beloved country will get a befitting response and no sacrifice will be too great in this sacred cause,” En Raheel said, in an apparent swipe at India.
The nuclear-armed neighbours, who have fought two wars over Muslim-majority Kashmir, have traded blame for the recent violence in the disputed Himalayan region.
“We persistently seek peace in the region and beyond,” Sharif said while addressing a parade at a military academy near Islamabad.
But “lasting peace in the region will only come about with the fair and just resolution of Kashmir issue,” he added.
Pakistan Army on Tuesday said it had voiced concern to India at continued firing across the Kashmir frontier and in Punjab province when senior officials from both sides spoke via a special hotline.
Clashes occur regularly along the disputed border known as Line of Control (LOC) as well as along the frontier dividing Indian Kashmir from Pakistan’s Punjab province.
Further, the chief said the people of Kashmir should decide their fate as the quest for peace is the nation’s greatest strength.
“Lasting peace in the region will only come about with a fair and just resolution of Kashmir issue in accordance with the will of Kashmiri people, as enshrined in the UN resolution,” said General Sharif.
Speaking on the war against terrorism, General Sharif stated that Operation Zarb-e-Azb was not merely an operation but a concept and a resolve and a commitment of the nation.
“The commitment is to cleanse Pakistan of the scourge of terrorism
once and for all,” said General Sharif.
The army chief said that the displaced people of FATA would return home sooner than expected as all intelligence agencies, law enforcement agencies and military operations were playing a commendable role in the operation.
Concluding his address, General Sharif entrusted the newly trained cadets with the responsibility of leading the country with dignity and honour.