NEW DELHI: India is now capable of making Pakistan “bite the dust” in less than 10 days in any new war with its arch-rival, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has claimed.
Modi is under pressure after weeks of ongoing protests against a new citizenship law, a slowing economy and the prospect of losing the latest in a string of state elections in New Delhi next month.
“Our armed forces will not take more than 7-10 days to make Pakistan bite the dust,” Modi declared in a speech to military personnel on Tuesday.
His comments follow last year’s incident when an Indian fighter jet was shot down — and the pilot captured — by Islamabad after a rare aerial engagement.
Wearing a maroon National Cadet Corps baseball cap at the event in the capital, Modi said India’s new prowess was thanks to what he called “youthful thinking”.
He said that Indian strikes in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and inside Pakistan proper in 2016 and last year were evidence of this.
In 2016, two Pakistan Army soldiers were martyred as Indian troops fired across the Line of Control in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. At the time, Indian army had claimed to have carried out surgical strikes, targeting “terror launchpads” along the Line of Control. The claims were rejected by the Pakistan Army as an “illusion being deliberately generated by Indian to create false effects”.
India and Pakistan have fought three wars: in 1947, 1965 and 1971, as well as in 1999 at Kargil.
Modi alleged that Pakistan continues to wage a “proxy war” against India by backing militants in occupied Kashmir — a charge repeatedly denied by Pakistan — where tens of thousands of people have died in recent decades.
Indian forces have been widely accused by Kashmiris and human rights groups of some of the worst violations reported during the last three decades of conflict; from summary executions, torture and rape to holding suspects as well as civilians for ransom.
Tension in the occupied territory increased last year after India stripped the region of its special status and imposed an indefinite curfew which has been in place for over 150 days.
By repealing Article 370 of the constitution, people from the rest of India will now have the right to acquire property in occupied Kashmir and settle there permanently. Kashmiris, as well as critics of India’s Hindu nationalist-led government, see the move as an attempt to dilute the demographics of Muslim-majority Kashmir with Hindu settlers.