General Asim Munir, who took charge of the powerful military last week, visits truce line that splits disputed Kashmir, making strongest public statement on nuclear foe India since taking up the role.
Pakistan's new army chief has said the military was ready to defend "every inch of our motherland" if attacked, during a visit to the Line of Control (LoC) that divides the disputed Kashmir region, which is claimed by both Pakistan and neighbouring India.
"Let me make it categorically clear, Pakistan's armed forces are ever ready, not only to defend every inch of our motherland, but to take the fight back to the enemy if ever war is imposed on us," General Asim Munir said on Saturday, according to a statement from the military's media wing.
"Indian state will never be able to achieve her nefarious designs."
The visit came less than a week since General Munir took charge of Pakistan's powerful military, and were among his strongest public statements on arch-rival India since taking up the role.
Ceasefire breach accusations
The two South Asian nuclear powers both claim the Kashmir region in full, but rule only parts, and have fought two of their three wars over the area.
Both sides often accuse each other of breaching a 2003 ceasefire pact by shelling and firing across the LoC, a 740-kilometres de facto border that cuts Kashmir into two.
Since early 2021, the LoC has been mostly quiet, following the renewal of a ceasefire agreement between India and Pakistan.
Pakistan's army chief will play a key role in managing risks of conflict with India on its eastern border, while also dealing with potential friction with Afghanistan on its western frontier.
Pakistan Army's new chief headed to the ceasefire line in Kashmir today, in his first interaction with troops on the ground pic.twitter.com/JDdfnHRzGg— Siasat.pk (@siasatpk) December 3, 2022
Heavily militarised region
Kashmir, split between Pakistan and India, has been claimed by both sides in entirety since British rule of the subcontinent ended 75 years ago and Pakistan and India were born.
Rebels in the India-administered portion of Kashmir have been fighting New Delhi's rule since 1989. Most Muslim Kashmiris support the rebels' goal of uniting the territory, either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.
India calls the Himalayan region an "integral part" of its nation and is against holding a UN-backed plebiscite there. Pakistan sees Kashmir as an unfinished business of partition and its "jugular vein."
India-administered Kashmir remains one of the world's most militarised regions, where India has deployed more than 500,000 troops.
Tens of thousands, mostly civilians, have lost their lives in decades of conflict.