Read Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhle's statement on IAF attack in Pakistan

Saul Bowman
February 27, 2019

Military spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor tweeted: "Indian Air Force violated Line of Control. The facility in Balakot was headed by Maulana Yousuf Azhar (alias Ustad Ghouri), the brother in law of Masood Azhar, chief of JeM", the Foreign Secretary said in the press briefing.

India claims the strike, which happened in the early hours of Tuesday morning, targeted a terrorist training camp in a pre-emptive attack. "In this operation, a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis who were being trained for fidayeen action were eliminated", the official said.

Pakistan, which denies harbouring the JeM, also dismissed India's claim, saying the Indian aircraft had dropped their bombs in a wooded area, causing no damage or casualties. There was no immediate explanation for the differing accounts, although India and Pakistan routinely contradict one another. He paid tribute to the military and said: "I assure the nation that the country is in safe hands".

"We hope that both India and Pakistan can exercise restraint and adopt actions that will help stabilise the situation in the region and improve mutual relations", China's foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said.

The Foreign Secretary reminded that Pakistan had made a "solemn commitment in January 2004 not to allow its soil or territory under its control to be used for terrorism against India". The war resulted in Maharaja of Kashmir signing the letter of accession to India even as the Pakistani Army, in support of local militia, occupied part of the region that is now administered by Pakistan. Since 1989, such groups have waged an insurgency to end Indian rule in Kashmir.

Kashmir has been at the heart of tensions between the neighbours since 1947, with both countries claiming the whole of the territory, but ruling it in part. Pakistan has scrambled fighter jets in response.

Pakistan has outlawed Jaish-e-Mohammad and seized its properties in south Punjab's Bawahalpur area, including religious schools and mosques. The hijackers had executed one passenger, Rupin Katyal, and finally negotiated the release of terrorists Masood Azhar Alvi, Syed Omar Sheikh and Mushtaq Ahmad Zargar from Indian jails on December 31, 1999, in exchange for the hostages.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy were among the first politicians who congratulated the IAF after news of the airstrikes began to trickle in. He called the attack an "unprovoked" violation of the 2003 cease-fire.

"The government should remain alert and watch out for what Pakistan is going to do", Raja said. They said jets pounded the camps in Balakot, Muzaffarabad and Chakoti. They said they had been expecting an Indian response after the attack earlier this month.

The US has said it supports India's "Right to self-defence" in the back of the attack.

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