Modi says India undermined Pakistan nuclear threat
NEW DELHI, Apr 15: Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday that India had called Pakistan's nuclear bluff in recent cross-border air strikes that almost triggered a new war between the nuclear-armed rivals.
Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have made national security the focus of their campaign for a national election now being held.
The prime minister told an election rally that an air strike inside Pakistan in February had shown that warnings hostilities could escalate into nuclear conflict were false.
"Pakistan has threatened us with nuclear, nuclear, nuclear," Modi told an election rally in Jammu and Kashmir near the border with Pakistan.
"Did we deflate their nuclear threat or not?" he asked the crowd that chanted "Modi, Modi, Modi" in response.
India says its fighter jets bombed a suspected militant installation in Pakistan on February 26 to avenge the killing of 40 paramilitaries by a suicide bomber in Indian Kashmir 12 days earlier.
Pakistan responded by sending its warplanes toward Indian airspace, leading to a dogfight and the downing of an Indian jet.
Military experts have long warned that a conventional armed conflict between the two countries could result in nuclear war and that this was holding them back from a serious showdown. Pakistan has never made a public nuclear threat. But its Prime Minister Imran Khan did call on both sides to pull back from the brink in February because of the "weapons we have".
Modi renewed his warning to Pakistan that "his new India" is capable of "eliminating terrorists in their homes".
India has long accused Pakistan of supporting militants in Kashmir, a charge its neighbour denies. The suicide bombing was claimed by a Pakistan-based group however. -AFP