A day after India conducted air strikes in Pakistan’s Balakot, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj Wednesday said the objective was to act against a terror camp and that India doesn’t wish to see a “further escalation.” Addressing Foreign Ministers of China and Russia at the Russia-India-China (RIC) Trilateral meeting in Wuzhen, she said, that “India will continue to act with responsibility and restrain.”
Swaraj’s comments come a day after the Indian airforce carried out a strike in the Balakot region of Pakistan, following which China said it hoped both India and Pakistan will exercise “restraint” and “do more to improve bilateral relations.” In her opening remarks during her bilateral meeting with Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, Swaraj also blamed Pakistan for its “refusal” to “acknowledge and act against terror groups in its territory.”
“In the light of the continuing refusal of Pakistan to acknowledge and act against terror groups on its territory and based on information that JeM was planning other attacks in parts of India, Government of India decided to take preemptive action and the target was selected in order to avoid civilian casualties,” Swaraj said.
Swaraj said that terrorism tops the list of “existential threats that the world faces today.” Referring to the recent terrorist attack on security forces in Pulwama, Jammu and Kashmir which left 40 security personnel dead, she said: “Such dastardly terrorist attacks are a grim reminder for the need for all the countries to show zero tolerance to terrorism and take decisive action against it. Following the Pulwama terrorist attack, instead of taking seriously the call by the international community to act against Jaish-e-Mohammad and other terror groups based in Pakistan, Pakistan denied any knowledge of the attack and outrightly dismissed claims by Jaish-e-Mohammed.”
Explained | Why Balakot is a watershed
Further, she said that the target for the airstrikes by India was selected in order to avoid civilian casualties. “This was not a military operation. No military installations were targeted. The limited objective of the pre-emptive strike was to act decisively against the terrorist infrastructure of JeM in order to pre-empt another terror attack in India,” she said.
During the meeting held on the sidelines of Russia, India, China Foreign Ministers meeting, Swaraj also raised the Pulwama terror attack. Forty CRPF officers were killed after a suicide bomber rammed his car into the convoy in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district on February 14, sparking outrage in the country. Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad claimed the responsibility for the attack.
“I am visiting China at a time when there is grief and anger in India. It is the worst terrorist attack directed against our security forces in Jammu and Kashmir. Such dastardly terrorist attacks are a grim reminder for the need of all the countries to show zero tolerance to terrorism and take decisive action against it,” she said.
Stating that the JeM is banned by the UN and other countries, Swaraj told Wang that “this terrorist attack is the direct result of the impunity and cover provided to the JeM and its leaders by the Pakistani side”.“After the Pulwama attack the entire UN has spoken with a full voice to condemn it,” she said.
Swaraj who arrived in Wuzhen early this morning told Wang that this is their first meeting this year and therefore an opportune time for the two sides to take stock of the bilateral relations and look ahead for cooperation.
(With inputs from agencies)