ISLAMABAD (Web Desk) -The thunderous spectacle of Pakistani fighter jets touching down on a major highway on Wednesday and Thursday has fueled public speculation that something much more ominous is afoot, The Washington Post reported.
The display of military readiness has come amid an unusually tense showdown with India, Pakistan’s nuclear-armed rival, following a militant attack Sunday that killed 18 Indian soldiers in the disputed border region of Kashmir.
Indian officials have accused Pakistan of sending the armed attackers across the de facto border into the Indian portion of Kashmir.
Pakistani officials have strongly denied the charges, and its military leaders have declared that they are prepared to defend Pakistani territory from any attack by India, and also to launch a “counter-offensive” in case of an Indian strike.
At the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif delivered a strident speech Wednesday, denouncing what he called ongoing Indian repression against unarmed protesters in Kashmir.
“In response to Indian threats, Pakistani forces have also accelerated their preparations to safeguard the motherland and give a befitting response to any attack by the enemy,” the accompanying voice-over repeated each time. It said the closure of air space because of these maneuvers and to precautions in northern Pakistan resulted in 10 domestic flights being cancelled.
Pakistani air force officials described the activities as part of a routine air defense exercise, code-named “High Mark,” which they said had also been conducted in 2010. One official said that Pakistan’s new wide highways have been built in part so planes can land there in emergencies. “It doesn’t mean we are going to war. We are just exercising to check and increase our capacity,” he said.
Shahid Latif, a former deputy air force chief, said it was important to remind India of Pakistan’s military and nuclear strength as a deterrent to any impulsive act. He said the air force now has upgraded F-16s and JF-17 Thunder fighter planes.
“India is very frustrated and it could do something rash, such as launching surgical strikes,” he said. “Our forces are well prepared to counter any Indian attack, our air force is doing the exercises and the motorway is also being used for that.” If India attacks, he said, “our military command knows what it has to do.”