Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif holds emergency cabinet meeting over Kashmir

ISLAMABAD,  Pakistani Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif will hold an emergency cabinet meeting on Friday over the “deteriorating situation” in Kashmir following India’s cross-border attack.

Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister of Pakistan seen here addressing the 71st session of the General Debate of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City on Sept. 21, held an emergency cabinet meeting on Friday following a cross-border attack in Kashmir by the Indian military. Photo by Monika Graff/UPI | License Photo

Two Pakistani soldiers — Naik Imtiaz and Havildar Jumma Khan — died in the incidentthat occurred late Wednesday described by India’s military as “surgical strikes” but downplayed by Pakistani officials as a cross-border exchange of gunfire.

The Pakistani cabinet on Friday said it condemned India’s attack.

Pakistan said there would be a “forceful response” to what it considered “unprovoked” Indian aggression. Sharif said Pakistan is capable of fighting back against any “evil design.”

“No external force has the capability or capacity to challenge the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Pakistan,” Sharif said in a statement.

The Indian military said it crossed the de facto Kashmir border to carry out the attack against what it called “terrorists,” but Pakistani officials said the Indian soldiers fired from their side of the border.

The United Nations has called on both nuclear-armed sides to show restraint amid escalating tensions.

“The U.N. Military Observer Group for India and Pakistan … is aware of the ceasefire violations and right now is liaising with the concerned authorities to obtain further information,” U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said Thursday. “The United Nations calls on the Governments of India and Pakistan to exercise restraint and encourages them to continue their effort to resolve their differences peacefully and through dialogue.”

Indian officials said Wednesday night’s attack was in response to two militant attacks on Indian positions in September, including one in which 18 Indian soldiers were killed when militants stormed an army base near the Pakistani border — an attack Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said would “not go unpunished.”

India and Pakistan both contest the Kashmir Valley, which has led to two wars over control of the territory since its independence from Britain in 1947.

By Andrew V. Pestano