Surgical strikes were routine cross-border firing, says Pakistan envoy

Pakistan high commissioner to India Abdul Basit played down talks of a war with India Photograph:( AFP )

Delhi, India Oct 09, 2016, 05.18 AM (IST)

Pakistan has said India's surgical strikes last month were "routine cross-border firing" and that its army had an important role to play when it came to forging a policy for India.

Pakistan's high commissioner to India Abdul Basit, speaking to Indian newspaper The Times of India, also refuted India's claim of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani being a terrorist. 

Basit said that had India conducted surgical strikes on Pakistani soil, they  would have "responded immediately and proportionately". He also urged India to not create "false expectations" by making tall claims.

"We did not see anything extraordinary on September 29. It was routine cross-LoC firing in which 2 of our soldiers were martyred," said Basit, who was appointed as the high commissioner to India in 2014. 

"If you want to describe this cross-LoC firing as a surgical strike, we cannot stop you," he told the Indian daily. LoC is an abbreviation of Line of Control, a de facto border that divides Pakistan and India.

Basit also played down any talks of a full-scale war with their neighbours. "I would not like to think along those lines... I would never entertain such thoughts," he said.

Basit responded to India's perception of the army in Pakistan having more clout than the civilian government. He justified that since issues related to India are "security related... the army has an important role to play".

"It (the country's army) has important inputs to give. So to expect that it will not have any role in Pakistan's India policy... is incorrect," the envoy said.

Basit also maintained that there was no rift between the military and the Nawaz Sharif-led government over its future course of action.

Pakistan daily Dawn had reported a few days back that the civilian government wanted to take action against elements who are perceived as terrorists by India and the United States. The report further stated that the government had asked the military not to interfere when it cracked down on such elements.

He also refused to label Burhan Wani as a terrorist. Commander of a militant Kashmiri separatist group, Wani was gunned down by Indian security forces in a July 8 encounter, after which the state of Kashmir witnessed a wave of anti-India protests across the state.

"Are you suggesting that the hundreds of thousands who came out for his funeral were supporting a terrorist?" the diplomat said.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Ambassador to the US Jalil Abbas Jilani concurred with Basit, saying that "going to war was not an option at all". Jilani was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the annual fall meeting of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.