New Delhi: In another provocation, Pakistan's Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif on Wednesday termed Kashmir as the "jugular vein" of his country.
Addressing the main ceremony to mark the 'Youm-e-Shuhada' (Martyrs' Day) at GHQ Rawalpindi, Gen Sharif said Kashmir was an internationally recognised dispute.
"Matchless sacrifices offered by Kashmiris will not go in vain," he said.
The resolution of the Kashmir issue is "indispensable" for lasting peace in the region, he said.
"Pakistan Army is in favour of peace but is always ready to respond to any aggression in befitting manner," he said.
Pakistan has often described Kashmir as the "jugular vein" but this is the first time Gen Sharif has used the term or spoken about Kashmir since taking over late last year.
Sharif's statement came a day after Pakistan Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan called Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's statement regarding attacking Islamabad to bring back bring fugitive underworld don Dawood Ibrahim as 'irresponsible and shameful'.
Modi had said if he wins the elections he would bring Ibrahim to India to be tried for the 1993 blasts in Mumbai.
The BJP later denounced the Pakistan's Interior Minister's comments, saying Islamabad should not interfere in India's internal affairs.
Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi said her party will tell Pakistan to "mend their ways".