Pak­istan PM, army chief watch mil­i­tary drill at In­dia bor­der Dis­play­ing Pak­istan’s mil­i­tary might


Pak­istan’s prime min­is­ter and pow­er­ful army chief trav­eled yes­ter­day to a strate­gic area along the bor­der with In­dia to ob­serve a drill meant to dis­play the coun­try’s mil­i­tary might amid es­ca­lat­ing ten­sions with New Delhi over the dis­puted Kash­mir re­gion.

Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif and Army Chief Gen. Ra­heel Sharif watched the ex­er­cise dubbed “Strike of Thun­der” and com­plete with planes, tanks, ar­tillery and other heavy weapons - to test the army’s pre­pared­ness.

The drill, in the Khairpur Tamiwali desert area near the dis­trict or Ba­hawalpur, came three days after In­dian fire in Kash­mir killed seven Pak­istani sol­diers in a new es­ca­la­tion be­tween the two nu­clear-armed ri­vals.

The two sides have traded fire re­peat­edly in re­cent weeks across the Line of Con­trol, which di­vides the Hi­malayan re­gion into In­dia- and Pak­istani-con­trolled zones. Both Pak­istan and In­dia claim Kash­mir in its en­tirety.

Pak­istan’s army chief has less than two weeks be­fore re­tire­ment after his three-year term. The govern­ment has not yet named his suc­ces­sor. In a speech at the drill, Pak­istan’s prime min­is­ter paid a glow­ing trib­ute to the armed forces and re­it­er­ated his govern­ment’s com­mit­ment to fight­ing ter­ror­ism.

Nawaz Sharif also is­sued a veiled warn­ing to In­dia, say­ing that Pak­istan would de­liver a “be­fit­ting re­sponse” to any hos­tile en­emy ac­tion. The lat­est es­ca­la­tion was set off by a deadly Septem­ber at­tack on an In­dian mil­i­tary base in the In­dian-con­trolled part of Kash­mir. In­dia has blamed Pak­istan-based mil­i­tants for that at­tack and oth­ers, a charge Pak­istan de­nies.

Ten­sions have run high since In­dian troops killed a Kash­miri mil­i­tant leader in July. The killing ig­nited some of the most vi­o­lent protests in years, and dozens of peo­ple have been killed in In­dia’s re­sult­ing crack­down. De­spite pleas from the United Na­tions, the two sides have con­tin­ued to ex­change fire in Kash­mir. The vi­o­lence has forced thou­sands of vil­lagers on the Pak­istani side to flee for safety. In­dia says it has been re­tal­i­at­ing for Pak­istani vi­o­la­tions of a 2003 cease-fire. Two of the three wars be­tween In­dia and Pak­istan since 1947 have been fought over their com­pet­ing claims to Kash­mir.

HY­DER­ABAD: Pak­istani army sol­diers show a stu­dent to op­er­ate an as­sault ri­fle dur­ing their visit to a gar­ri­son yes­ter­day. Pak­istani Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif and the coun­try’s pow­er­ful army chief left yes­ter­day for a strate­gi­cally lo­cated se­cret area bor­der­ing In­dia to wit­ness a mil­i­tary ex­er­cise of ground and air power amid in­creas­ing ten­sion with In­dia over Kash­mir.

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