Hours after the Indian Air Force carried out a strike deep inside Pakistan, New Delhi Tuesday reached out to the international community to mobilise support for its “non-military” and “pre-emptive” strike against a terrorist group, and restrain Pakistan from taking any offensive retaliatory action.
While China’s response was muted, Australia and France came out with statements supporting India’s action. The Delhi-based Dean of Diplomatic Corps too was supportive of India’s action since it was a “direct attack” to “limited and specific objectives” with “no civilian or military casualties”, and diplomats were told that there was “no intention to escalate”.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang, responding to a question on the “non-military” strike, said, “Fighting terrorism is a global practice and needs necessary cooperation.” “India and Pakistan are both important countries in South Asia. Sound relations and cooperation serve the interest of both countries for peace and stability in South Asia… we hope the two countries can keep restraint and do more to improve bilateral relations,” Lu said.
Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale and other secretaries in the Ministry of External Affairs briefed foreign envoys based in Delhi, including those of the United States, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom, on the air strike exercising India’s “right to self-defence”. This was the second briefing within a fortnight.
Immediately after the Pulwama terror attack, India began coercive diplomacy, briefing envoys on the attack on the CRPF personnel. More than 70 countries and the UN Security Council condemned the Pulwama attack.
On Tuesday, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj spoke to her counterparts in the US, China, Singapore, Bangladesh and Afghanistan and briefed them on the pre-dawn strike on the Jaish-e-Mohammad terror training camp in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, sources said.
Swaraj then left for Wuzhen in China for the Russia-India-China-trilateral meeting where she will meet Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday.
In a phone conversation with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Swaraj explained the reasons behind the strike and conveyed that the action was specifically targeted at the JeM camp. She also spoke to Wang Yi and apprised him on the “non-military, pre-emptive air strikes,” sources said.
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In Canberra, the Australian Foreign Ministry, in a statement, said: “Pakistan must take urgent and meaningful action against terrorist groups in its territory, including Jaish-e-Mohammed which has claimed responsibility for the 14 February bombing, and Lashkar-e-Taiba”.
“Pakistan must do everything possible to implement its own proscription of Jaish-e-Mohammed. It can no longer allow extremist groups the legal and physical space to operate from its territory. These steps would make a substantial contribution to easing tensions and resolving the underlying causes of conflict,” Canberra said, putting the onus on Islamabad, in a show of support for Delhi.
Australia urged both sides to “exercise restraint, avoid any action which would endanger peace and security in the region and engage in dialogue to ensure that these issues are resolved peacefully”.
France, which has been at the forefront along with the US to take action against Masood Azhar, said it “recognises India’s legitimacy to ensure its security against cross-border terrorism” and asked Pakistan to “put an end to the operations of terrorist groups established on its territory”.
“France most firmly condemns the terrible attack perpetrated on 14 February 2019 against Indian security forces in Pulwama, for which the terrorist group, Jaish-e-Mohammed, has claimed responsibility. France, which stands by India in the fight against terrorism in all its forms, is fully engaged in mobilising the international community to sanction the terrorists responsible for this attack and freezing their financing networks,” the French Foreign Ministry said.
“France solemnly calls on India and Pakistan to exercise restraint so as to avert any risk of military escalation and preserve strategic stability in the region. The resumption of bilateral dialogue between Islamabad and New Delhi is necessary to initiate a peaceful settlement of differences,” it said.
In New Delhi, the Dean of Diplomatic Corps, Frank Hans Dannenberg Castellanos, who is the Ambassador of the Dominican Republic, also issued a statement of support: “The diplomatic corps feels very satisfied for the quick and organised manner in which MEA briefed all heads of missions accredited in Delhi, simultaneously and by the highest of the authorities within the ministry for each regional group.”
“We received the same information given to the media that “it was a direct attack to limited and specific objectives with no civilian or military casualties, and it was expressed that there is no intention to escalate and will act in restraint and responsibly, based on credible intelligence that further attacks were planned in India,” he said.