Pakistan's armed forces will mount an equal response "within minutes" if India carries out any surgical strike inside the country, army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has reportedly assured the nation's leadership.
During a meeting at the presidency on Tuesday, Kayani informed President Asif Ali Zardari about the operational preparedness of the military in the face of mounting tensions with India in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks.
The armed forces were "fully prepared to meet any "eventuality" and the "men are ready to (make a) sacrifice for their country", Kayani was quoted as saying by pro-establishment The News daily.
The report also quoted the army chief as saying that Pakistan would respond "within minutes" in the event of surgical strikes by India.
The report further stated that the "crux of the meeting" between Zardari and Kayani "was that any further buckling under mounting Indian pressure would prove counter-productive in the sense that it would further encourage New Delhi to further build up pressure on Islamabad".
The two leaders met hours after the Pakistan Air Force enhanced its vigilance and warplanes conducted sorties over key cities like Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Lahore. Speaking in Karachi, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani too said the nation would stand united in the event of any aggression "on the eastern border".
During a meeting last night with the visiting US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, Kayani said Pakistan reserved the right to defend itself in case of any aggression from India, Dawn News channel reported.
In his hour-long meeting with Kayani, Zardari said he believed in gearing up efforts for peace, which should not be taken as a sign of weakness.
Zardari also said Pakistan wanted peaceful and cordial relations with all its neighbours, but the "threatening statements" of the Indian leadership were creating an atmosphere of aggression and harming the regional environment, The News reported.
He said all national security agencies, the army, political leadership and the people are united to meet any aggression against Pakistan. The country has the right to defend its borders in case of any aggression, Zardari added.