The Pakistan army has dismissed claims that India's military conducted "surgical strikes" against "terrorists" on its side of the border in Kashmir region. Pakistan rejected the claims as an "illusion" but acknowledged the loss of two of its soldiers in the exchange of fire that also wounded nine others on September 29, 2016.
The notion of surgical strike linked to alleged terrorists' bases is an illusion being deliberately generated by India to create false effects," the Pakistani military said in a statement.
Tension remains high between the neighbours following the killing of 18 Indian soldiers in Indian-administered Kashmir on September 18.
The Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, has been under intense pressure from his own party and the Indian public to respond to the Uri army base attack. Mr Modi came to power pledging to toughen India's response to what he calls cross-border incursions from Pakistan. He vowed earlier last month that the Uri raid "will not go unpunished".
Lieutenant-General Ranbir Singh, the Indian director-general of military operations, said the "surgical strikes" were launched following "very specific and credible information that some terrorist units had positioned themselves to infiltrate". "Significant casualties have been caused to these terrorists and those who are trying to support them," Singh said.
Interestingly, on September 21, an Indian online media, TheQuint.com, claimed that two units of the army's elite 2 Paras conducted the operation in the Uri sector and attacked three militant camps in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir. The operation happened during the intervening hours of 20 September and 21 September, according to The Quint.
However, Indian Army sources denied the report that Indian forces had crossed over the Line of Control near Uri to avenge the killing of 18 of its soldiers killed in Uri. The Times of India quoted the Indian Army sources as saying that no such action had been undertaken and the account was incorrect.
Japanese report questions India's claim
Interestingly, a Japanese magazine has questioned the Indian claim of conducting surgical strikes, maintaining India does not have capacity to do so. The Diplomat magazine has carried an article under the title: "Is India Capable of a Surgical Strike in Pakistan Controlled Kashmir?"
The article is written by Shawn Snow, who raised few questions about India's capability to conduct any surgical strike on Pakistan soil. "A surgical-strike operation by Indian forces begs the question of whether Indian forces have the capability to launch such a sophisticated and coordinated attack," Snow wrote in the magazine.
Giving information about the surgical strikes, it says, that the strikes can be conducted through airborne- or artillery-based precision guided strikes or ground force-based assaults; both of which require sophisticated intelligence collection, platforms to conduct collections, and surveillance of target sites and objectives.
It also raised doubts on India's airborne, artillery-based precision guided strikes, or ground force-based assaults. "India is still on the cusp of building a sophisticated and modernized asymmetrical capability to conduct counterterror operations, while much of its forces are still organized and trained on Cold War models," the report said.
Commenting over the air defense system of Pakistan, the report said: "Furthermore, a cross-border air raid by either heli-borne assets or drones would still prove exceedingly difficult as Pakistan boasts an incredibly impressive air-defense system."
"Pakistan-controlled Kashmir is a high threat area for shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles, some of which have found their way into the hands of militant groups. Any air operation over the territory would be under threat from these weapon systems," the report observed.
Raising further doubts about the operation, it said India has released little detail on the operation.
Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said at a daily press briefing that the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) had not "directly observed" any firing.