Khawaja Asif said Pakistan wants to live in peace and harmony with its neighbours (File)
Hours after Indian Air Force Chief BS Dhanoa said India had the capability of responding at short notice to a nuclear threat and locating, striking targets across the border, Pakistan's Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif warned, "If that happens, nobody should expect restraint from us".
Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa had spoken in response to questions about Pakistan's recent boast of short-range nuclear weapons to counter India's "Cold Start doctrine" - a strategy to avoid a full-blown war using a low-intensity offensive.
"We have a draft nuclear doctrine. It is answered in that. What happens when the enemy decides to use nuclear weapons on us... As far as the IAF is concerned, it has the ability to locate, fix and strike and that is not only for tactical nuclear weapons but for other targets across the border," the Air Chief said at a press conference ahead of the Air Force Day.
The Pakistan foreign minister, who is on a three-day visit to Washington, reacted to the comment during a discussion at the US Institute of Peace, a think-tank. "Yesterday (Wednesday), the Indian air chief said we will hit, through another surgical strike, Pakistan's nuclear installations. If that happens, nobody should expect restraint form us. That's the most diplomatic language I can use," Mr Asif said.
Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa had told reporters that while the Indian Air Force has the capability of striking nuclear and other targets in Pakistan, any decision on a surgical strike would be taken by the government.
There have been global concerns over the safety of nuclear weapons in Pakistan.
In August, a senior Trump administration official said the US was worried that nuclear weapons and materials in Pakistan might land up in the hands of terrorist groups or individuals.
The Indian Army had carried out surgical strikes last year on seven terror launch pads across the Line of Control inflicting "significant casualties" on terrorists preparing to infiltrate from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, 11 days after a terrorist attack on Uri army base that left 19 soldiers dead and several others injured.
Mr Asif said the "relationship with India is at a lowest ebb at the moment".
Responding to a question, he said, "Sadly, India did not respond to Pakistani efforts to improve relationship."