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Pakistan army chief vows to defend “homeland” during his visit to Kashmir

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Pakistan’s new army chief has said the army is ready to defend the country if it comes under attack during his visit to the Line of Control that divides the disputed region of Kashmir.

“Let me emphatically state that the Armed Forces of Pakistan are fully prepared, not only to defend every square inch of our homeland, but to hand over the fight to the enemy if a war is imposed upon us,” Lt. Asim Munir. . Saturday. According to a statement issued by the media wing of the army.

He said, “The Indian state will not be able to carry out its heinous designs.

India’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Munir made the visit a few days after he assumed command of Pakistan’s powerful army.

Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh said in late October that New Delhi was ready to join Gilgit-Baltistan, a semi-autonomous region of Pakistan. India claims Gilgit-Baltistan as part of Kashmir and is illegally occupied by Pakistan.

Islamabad described Singh’s statement as “ridiculous” and said he represented New Delhi’s expansionist mentality and the hostility of its neighbour.

The two South Asian nuclear powers claim all of Kashmir but rule only parts of it. They fought two of their three wars in the Himalayan region.

Both sides often accuse each other of breaking the 2003 ceasefire by bombing and firing across the Line of Control, the 740-km de facto border that divides Kashmir in two. Since the beginning of 2021, the LoC has been generally calm after a new ceasefire.

Analysts said that the Pakistani generals retain strong influence over security and foreign affairs.

“Tough rhetoric on India was expected because the new president wants it to be strong,” Michael Kugelman, a South Asia specialist, wrote on Twitter.

But he said it was “still remarkable, given that public messaging around India has been rather weak during Bajwa’s last term as army chief,” referring to General Qamar Javed Bajwa, who retired last week.

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