Union Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj called for an all-party meeting Tuesday in the wake of a “non-military, preemptive action” by Indian forces on a major Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camp in Balakot across the Line of Control (LoC). Swaraj is likely to brief the Opposition on the IAF surgical strike.
External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted that the meeting would take place at 5 pm at Jawaharlal Nehru Bhawan in Delhi. Though there is no official word about who all would be in attendance at the meeting, sources say that West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC patron Mamata Banerjee is likely to miss the meeting despite making it to New Delhi by evening.
EAM @SushmaSwaraj has convened an All Party Meeting today, 26 February at 5 PM at JNB.
— Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) February 26, 2019
Confirming the attack, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said the target was chosen to avoid civilian casualties. He said the terror camp, located in thick forests on a hilltop away from civilian areas, was run by Maulana Yousuf Azhar, brother-in-law of JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar. He said there was credible information that JeM was planning suicide attacks similar to Pulwama in other parts of the country and hence this strike was necessary.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has convened an emergency meeting to review the situation, Radio Pakistan reported. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi who is expected to brief the media later today, said India has committed “aggression” by violating the LoC and Islamabad has “right to self-defence”.
Earlier, Pakistan armed forces spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor claimed Indian aircraft “intruded from Muzaffarabad sector” and “dropped a payload” near Balakot “facing timely and effective response from Pakistan Air Force”. The attack took place in the early hours of Tuesday.
The airstrikes in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir is the first time Indian Air Force has been used in Pakistan controlled air space after the 1971 war. During the 1999 Kargil conflict, the Vajpayee government had decided to restrict the use of IAF to own side of LoC.