'Pakistan, thanks to God, is a nuclear power — not as an aggressor, but for our defence purposes,' Sharif was quoted saying

Pakistan on Tuesday subtly flaunted its nuclear power and warned of a nuclear flashpoint even as it expressed its willingness to talk to India, albeit with the rider that the dialogue should be held on “serious matters”.

“War is not an option,” Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said at an event in Islamabad. His comment came just days after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said that India was ready to cross its Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan if it was necessary in order to defend the honour and dignity of the nation.

“Pakistan, thanks to God, is a nuclear power — not as an aggressor, but for our defence purposes,” Sharif was quoted saying in a report by Dawn. “And God forbid if there is a nuclear flashpoint, who will live to tell what happened?,” he said, adding: “So war is not an option.”

“We are prepared to talk to them, provided that the neighbour is serious to talk [on] serious matters,” the prime minister of Pakistan said, without directly referring to India.

He, however, added that Pakistan expects its neighbour (India) to understand that the two nations could not become “normal neighbours” unless abnormalities were removed unless the serious issues were understood and addressed through peaceful and meaningful discussions.

New Delhi has been maintaining that Pakistan must behave like a “normal neighbour” and stop exporting terror from territories under its control if wants its relations with India to be normal.

Islamabad last week accused New Delhi of posing a threat to regional peace and security with its “jingoistic rhetoric”. “We counsel India to exercise utmost caution as its belligerent rhetoric is a threat to regional peace and stability and contributes to destabilising the strategic environment in South Asia,” Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, a spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Pakistan, said. She was reacting to the statement by India's defence minister on his nation’s capability to cross its LoC with Pakistan.

“We can go to any extreme to maintain the honour and dignity of the country...if that includes crossing the LoC, we are ready to do that...if we are provoked and if the need arises, we will cross the LoC,” Singh had said on July 26 last – while speaking at the Kargil War Memorial on the occasion of the 24th Kargil Vijay Divas, commemorating India’s victory against Pakistan in the 1999 conflict.

After Sharif had taken over as the prime minister of Pakistan in April 2022, his counterpart in New Delhi, Narendra Modi, had tweeted to congratulate him, asserting that India desired peace and stability in a region free of terror, so that it could focus on its development challenges and ensure the well-being and prosperity of its people.

Sharif in January this year had said that Pakistan had learnt its lessons after fighting three wars with India and it would now like to live in peace. His comment had been interpreted by some as a subtle offer by Islamabad for talks with New Delhi. His office, however, had clarified that any negotiation between Pakistan and India could not take place as long as the Modi Government in New Delhi would not reverse its August 5, 2019 move to strip Jammu and Kashmir of its special status and split the state into two Union Territories.