India’s war of words with Pakistan intensified on Monday as Indian forces attacked the Pakistani city of Lahore and the capital Islamabad.
A joint military exercise in the Indian-controlled border area between the two countries, which the Indian government says has seen more than 7,000 Pakistani soldiers killed and thousands wounded, had prompted widespread anger among Pakistanis.
In a tweet, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who has previously been critical of India’s actions in Kashmir, described India’s “provocative” action as a “provocation” and said he would call for an end to “insults and provocations” from both sides.
“My message to India is, stop provoking Pakistan, stop insulting our people and stop insulting the security forces of Pakistan,” Sharif tweeted, adding that he had been briefed by his military chief.
“Your provocative and unprovoked actions in Jammu and Kashmir and Lahore have caused great suffering and loss of life to our people,” he added.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry condemned India’s military action in Kashmir and said it would take “appropriate” action.
But the military said it had been ordered to exercise restraint in both cases.
The war of tweets has intensified since the Uri attack in October, in which the army claimed responsibility for killing an Indian soldier in the country’s deadliest attack on the Indian side since the 1971 war.
“India is using the Kashmir issue to divert attention away from the ongoing conflict in Indo-Pakistan and to distract the people from their daily concerns,” Sharif said in a statement.
“I hope that our people will respect our sovereignty and will be assured that our security forces are acting in accordance with the law and will not take unnecessary action.”
The conflict between India and Pakistan erupted in 2008 after a brief war that pitted the two nations against each other in Kashmir.
In response, Pakistan and India fought a two-decade war that ended in a ceasefire in 2014.
The two nations have been at odds over Kashmir ever since, with India accusing Pakistan of backing separatist groups and Pakistan saying it was pursuing a democratic agenda in Kashmir that includes a free and fair election for its people.
India has also accused Pakistan of trying to create chaos and instability in Kashmir by destabilizing the region.
The border is also a hotbed of religious and ethnic tension.
In July, India launched Operation Blue Star to target Pakistani Taliban militants in the disputed region, but that has also sparked fierce counter-insurgency operations in the region, including in the areas where the border meets India.
The Indian army said the operation was aimed at deterring any attack on Indian soil and in particular from Pakistan-based militants.
The operation came amid rising tensions over the border, as Indian troops launched a massive crackdown in recent weeks in the area, including on Muslim-majority areas of the Jammu region.