Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has taken exception to belligerent remarks by India's ministers after the army crossed over into Myanmar to kill terrorists responsible for the Manipur massacre.
"The entire nation is dismayed by the recent irresponsible and I must say imprudent statements from the Indian political leadership. This vitiates the atmosphere and takes us further away from our goal of regional peace and stability," he said at a conference.
Sharif spoke after the Pakistan Senate condemned the recent “disturbing pattern of provocative and hostile” statements by Indian leaders including threatening attacks against Pakistani territory.
Minister of State Rajyavardhan Rathore has gone overboard with claims of machismo, and warned that India might pursue terrorists and strike across the border with other nations too. Asked if there is a message that the government is trying to send to other countries like Pakistan, he said, "It is undoubtedly a message to all nations that harbour any intentions - be it the west or the specific country we went into right now."
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar added fuel to the controversy by saying that "Those who fear India's new posture have started reacting." He was speaking after Pakistan's interior minister Nisar Ali Khan, reacting to Rathore's statements, said that "Pakistan is not like Myanmar and cannot be cowed down from threats across the border."
India's statements seem to have rattled the Burmese side as well. The Myanmar government has denied that Indian forces had crossed the border. "Myanmar will never accept any foreign rebels using its territory and border area as a base," said a statement from the Myanmar presidential office. "Myanmar is willing to negotiate and cooperate with the Indian government to handle the problem."
The Indian Army has also said that its forces had engaged with militants along the border in Nagaland and Manipur. The statement did not say anything about crossing the border.
Pakistan leaders have clearly found both Rathore's and Parrikar's statements provocative. Former dictator Pervez Musharraf also jumped into the fray. "We do not want to use nuclear capability but if our existence comes under threat, who do we have these nuclear weapons for? If I say in Chaudhary Shujaat's style, do we have nukes saved to be used on Shab-e-Baraat?"
The government seems to have realized that Rathore's chest thumping didn't really help, and might actually have created a new problem with Myanmar, which might not be interested in cooperating next time militants cross over. India's Ambassador to Myanmar met with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday to explain the situation. "Myanmar operation had become an imperative after they killed 30 of our soldiers. But we are not going to pick fights unless they are imposed on us," said a senior government source.
The Congress said that the government should be more mature about dealing with such situations. "There should be sobriety and maturity. Jingoism and boastful claims are not going to help the operations of India's special forces," said Congress spokesperson and former union minister Anand Sharma.
This is also not the first time the Indian army has crossed the border to strike militant hideouts. It had done the same in 2006, also in Myanmar. But unlike Rathore, ministers in the UPA government did not turn that into a public affair.