Islamabad - Taking notice of a hostile narrative being propagated by India, Army Chief General Raheel Sharif yesterday said the military was fully cognisant of the current regional situation and its impact on national security.

Presiding over a conference at General Headquarters, the army chief said the Armed Forces of Pakistan were fully prepared to respond to entire spectrum of direct and indirect threats.

“Armed forces together with their resilient nation have surmounted every challenge and will thwart any sinister design against integrity and sovereignty of the country in future as well,” ISPR quoted General Raheel Sharif as telling his commanders.

The strong message from the army chief comes amid reports that India was drawing planes to thrash out a ‘response’ to a deadly raid on an army base in Occupied-Kashmir blamed on militants from Pakistan, amid calls for tough action against the nuclear-armed nation.

The military conference took place hours after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s senior aide Sartaj Aziz said the attack on the Indian military base was a blatant attempt on New Delhi’s part to deflect attention from the pressing situation in Indian-held Kashmir.

On Sunday, Director General Military Operations (DGMO) rejected unfounded Indian allegations and told his Indian counterpart that infiltration was impossible because of the watertight border arrangements.

According to an ISPR statement, the conference at GHQ provided an in-depth review of the external and internal security situation and operational preparedness of the armed forces.

Commending the steady progress of Operation Zarb-e-Azb, Gen Raheel paid glowing tribute to officers and men of army, FC, Rangers and police who are rendering supreme sacrifices while successfully fighting against terrorists across the length and breadth of the country.

MODI THRASHES OUT RESPONSE

AFP adds: India’s prime minister on Monday summoned top security advisers to draw plans for a response to the militant raid on their army base in Kashmir.

Narendra Modi has vowed ‘to punish’ those behind the attack in which gunmen hurling grenades stormed the base, killing 17 soldiers in the biggest such attack in over a decade. An 18th soldier died in hospital on Monday.

The Hindu nationalist prime minister promised during his election campaign to take a hard line over Kashmir and has faced calls from army veterans – and even some in his own party – for a military adventure against Pakistan.

On Monday, he summoned his national security adviser and military leaders to formulate a ‘response’, which media reports said could include airstrikes on alleged training camps on the Pakistan side of the Line of Control (LoC) that divides Kashmir.

But security experts say India lacks the military capabilities to take on its neighbour in the divided Himalayan region, already tense after weeks of violent clashes between police and demonstrators protesting at Indian rule and seeking right to self-determination as promised by UN resolutions.

“It’s not like the US conducting airstrikes in Syria to tackle ISIS that’s hundreds of miles away from home ground, Pakistan is next door,” said Ajai Sahni, executive director at the Institute of Conflict Management think-tank in Delhi.

“India knows it can’t sustain a 15-day war against Pakistan and Pakistan knows it can’t sustain a similar war against India.”

Local media also urged caution, with the Indian Express saying calls for military action were “easier made than acted upon”.

Ranbir Singh, the army’s director-general of military operations, said the markings on some of the material recovered from the slain militants showed they had come from across the border, while insisting India had the resources to adequately respond to Pakistan.

“The Indian Army has displayed considerable restraint while handling the terrorist situation both along the Line of Control and in the hinterland,” he said at a media briefing Monday. “...We reserve the right to respond to any act of the adversary at a time and place of our own choosing.”

According to Times of India, the Indian army is going to turn the heat on Pakistan along the 778-km LoC with concentrated artillery barrages, sniping and other operations, even as a section of the Indian security establishment wants the government to also consider “limited but punitive cross-border strikes” to send an unequivocal message to Pakistan.

But while “enhanced military pressure” along the LoC is a tactical move to impose some costs on the Pakistan Army for continuing to aid and abet terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir, the government will have to take a considered decision on conventional cross-border strikes on terror-training camps because of possible escalation into a full-fledged conflict.

Army battalions along the LoC as well as forward IAF airbases on the Western front have in any case been put on “full alert” to take care of any contingency, government sources said.