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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

India Warns Pakistan Over Disputed Area

JAMMU, India -- India and Pakistan are close to the situation that existed before their war in 1965, India's army commander in Kashmir said Wednesday, warning that if pushed to the edge, New Delhi could choose military action against Pakistan's army and Islamic guerrillas.

In the most aggressive war signal in years by a military commander, Lieutenant General R.K. Nanavatty, head of the Indian army's Northern Command, said India must remain prepared for military action, and that the capture of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir was "achievable."

"The nuclearization of the subcontinent might have altered the situation, but despite that, the space exists for a limited conventional operation," Nanavatty said, referring to the Indian and Pakistani nuclear arsenals developed after 1998 tests.

The military had refrained from such references to war even during the 1999 frontier fighting between Pakistan and India that killed 400 Indian soldiers.

Tensions between the two countries have increased sharply since an Oct. 1 car bombing at the Kashmir state legislature killed 40 people. A group that operates openly in Pakistan claimed responsibility, then denied it weeks later.

The Indian army said a soldier was injured in all-night firing across the international border, which ended Tuesday. Also, six people -- four members of the security forces, one militant and a civilian -- were killed in a battle at Bijbehara village, 50 kilometers south of Srinagar. The army said it fired rockets into houses where militants had taken shelter after the rebels opened fire at surrounding troops.

"In August 1965, the situation was not entirely dissimilar to what it is today, when we undertook a limited, conventional war in the Haji Peer area," Nanavatty said. The Indian assault on the 2,700-meter Haji Peer Pass was the first major campaign by Indian troops in the 1965 war.

A Defense Ministry spokesman said the general's assessment of the situation was "theoretically correct."

"On the ground we are maintaining strict vigil and restraint. In case any action beyond this is required, it will need the will of the nation and a decision by much higher authorities," said P.K. Bandopadhyay, a Defense Ministry spokesman.

The spokesman for Pakistan's military-led government, General Rashi Quereshi, said Indian military officials "are totally mistaken" about being able to seize Pakistan's portion of Kashmir.

"Pakistan has tried unilaterally to defuse the situation and prevent friction," Quereshi said. "Pakistan withdrew forces unilaterally from the Kashmir border.

"If India wants to escalate tensions," he added, "Pakistan would continue to exercise restraint and take bare minimum measures."